The amount of time your cleaning team spends maintaining machine batteries could be better spent doing the actual cleaning. Not to mention, the safety risks involved with changing floor cleaning equipment batteries and the cost of hiring an outside company. But it does not have to be, there is a better way!
Advancement and enhancement of battery technologies in for equipment is continuously progressing and new technologies deliver more efficient batteries that are revolutionizing the floor care industry.
One of these new technologies is the lithium-ion battery, which is commonly used throughout different industries, but very suitable for use in floor cleaning equipment.
The lithium-ion battery is gaining popularity quickly. Because it is light weight it can be used in all kinds of devices including cellphones, laptops, and tablets. In the cleaning industry, the lithium-ion battery is even being used to power floor scrubbers and sweepers, for good reason.
For example, ICE Cobotics Intelligent Cleaning Equipment is equipped with lithium-ion batteries, providing extended run time.
Lithium-ion batteries are the current competitor of the more commonly used lead acid battery (LAB).
However, the lithium-ion battery market is forecasted to grow around 13% in the next seven years due to the realization of high safety combined with high performance, making it an attractive solution for all different purposes.
To better understand the benefits of lithium-ion batteries, we first need to examine them closer.
The lithium-ion battery is a rechargeable electrochemical device that produces power by moving lithium-ions. The battery is made from two parts, a negative electrode (the anode) and a positive electrode (the cathode), which store the lithium.
The electrolyte in the middle carries positively charged lithium ions from the anode to the cathode when discharging and in the opposite direction when the battery is charging. This movement is what produces the energy the machine uses.
Due to this movement, the battery can be sensitive to heat. Therefore, it is important to store the batteries in dry and cool spaces.
There are multiple reasons why these batteries are the better option when choosing the source to power your equipment.
When it comes to batteries, lithium-ion batteries are considered to be low maintenance. This becomes clearer when we compare them with the (flooded) lead acid batteries.
Wet flooded lead acid batteries require a lot of maintenance because the plates should always be submerged in a mixture of water and electrolytes, since this produces power. This mixture should be refilled weekly and the plates must be covered with distilled water before and after charging the battery. It should be noted that the water needs to be distilled, otherwise the battery will not function correctly.
Whereas lead acid batteries require extensive weekly maintenance, lithium-ion batteries are much simpler to maintain. These do not require filling with distilled water or monitoring the water level. A lithium-ion battery just needs to be charged properly and then it is good to go.
The low level of maintenance is a great benefit since it will save janitorial staff time and effort. To maintain a lead acid battery, employees need to be trained to add water and charge the battery correctly, since over-flowing the battery can be harmful to the machine and its users. Training can be quite costly and take up valuable time.
Lithium-ion batteries do not have to be watered and charging them is a simple procedure. Thus, the maintenance is simple and effective.
One of the benefits of lithium-ion is that these batteries can be opportunity charged. In between shifts, on breaks or whenever an opportunity presents itself. This can be done due to the fast-charging time of lithium-ion batteries and typically these batteries only take two to three hours to fully charge.
Lead acid batteries, in comparison, can take up to eight hours to charge. These batteries also need to be fully charged every time, so the machine will be down for a long amount of time. Lithium-ion batteries can be partially charged, this will not affect the battery.
Because lithium-ion batteries can be opportunity charged, staff gains flexibility when using these batteries. They can be charged whenever it is convenient, thus reducing the downtime of the machine.
Replacing batteries can be a costly expense for companies. Not only are batteries expensive products, but it might also take training of staff or the hiring of a service to replace the batteries. When it comes to replacing batteries, in the cleaning industry the average company pays around $200 per machine just to get the batteries replaced—per year.
A longer lifespan is therefore a great benefit of the lithium-ion battery.
When we compare the cycles of lithium-ion with lead acid batteries, it shows a significant difference. Depending on the battery, the charge/discharge cycle of lithium-ion batteries is between 2000-5000 cycles compared to 200-500 cycles for lead acid batteries.
Since replacing batteries can be so costly, it is extremely convenient that lithium-ion batteries last approximately 10 times longer than lead acid. However, these statements only apply when taking proper care of your battery. When you charge it properly, the battery will maintain its power and supply for a long time.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not a problem to charge the battery multiple times or not charge it fully each time. In fact, not charging the batteries for the full 100% can even help prolong the lifespan, since it will not put too much strain on them.
When choosing a battery, one feature you should always consider is safety. The power of batteries is beneficial but should never compromise the safety or health of people handling it.
Lead acid batteries can potentially be hazardous when charging.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) “the two primary risks are from hydrogen gas formed when the battery is being charged and the sulfuric acid in the battery fluid.” This can be why most companies do not want their employees to change the batteries and call for service to prevent liabilities.
The lithium-ion batteries contain no harmful metals or acids like lead, mercury or cadmium. This makes them safer for the environment in which they are used. Aside from that, thanks to their longer lifespan they will not have to be replaced as often, which also decreases the risks.
The risk of explosion or fire is always present when using batteries. The production of energy can cause a battery to heat up, which can cause fire when overheating. This risk can never entirely be taken away, but surely can be diminished.
Lithium-ion batteries have a better thermal stability which is important to decrease the risk of the battery overheating. It should be noted that proper use and care of the battery is key in preventing hazards. Never place batteries in direct sunlight and store them in a cool and dry space.
The price tag on a battery really does not say it all. Even though a battery may have a lower price point, the long-term care, durability, and disposal of the equipment could end up costing more than a battery with a higher upfront charge.
Chris Botting, manager of research at Delta-Q Technologies in Canada says that
Battery costs are usually the most problematic (especially replacement of the batteries) in the total cost of ownership.
To illustrate, a 36V scrubber needs six batteries, that cost around $1660 per set. With some maintenance the average battery will last about one year. As mentioned before, the replacing, training and maintenance of the batteries can cost up to $200 per year.
Because lithium-ion batteries do not have to be replaced as often and require less maintenance, they produce much less cost for their owner.
These features not only lead to less costs, but it can also help increase the productivity and efficiency of staff. Since cleaning employees will have to spend less time on the maintenance of the batteries, more time can be used running the machine. Moreover, because the batteries charge so fast, downtime will also decrease.
Another option to reduce battery costs is to consider a cleaning company that offers an all-inclusive subscription model that includes lithium-ion batteries. In this way, all costs of a machine will be covered at once, with no surprises.
Lithium-ion batteries do not only have a lower total cost of ownership, they can also help increase the productivity of the machine they are powering. When a company chooses to invest in these batteries, these are benefits they are likely to experience themselves.
ICE Cobotics is an industry leader and has manufactured Intelligent Cleaning Equipment for over 30 years. We also manufacture our own lithium-ion batteries.
If you'd like to read further, we suggest: Everything You Need to Know About Lithium-Ion Batteries