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Official Blog of Flux Power Inc.

Why UL Marks are Important for Lithium-ion Batteries in Industrial Applications / Walkie Pallet Jacks

Underwriter Laboratories (UL) is an organization whose mission is “to build a safer, more secure and more sustainable today and tomorrow” by helping companies establish trustworthy products in the marketplace. To achieve this mission UL requires products go through rigorous testing by industry-standard UL test labs.

To better understand why UL is important, it is best to understand what certifications are offered and how they differ. Currently UL offers two different certifications detailed below.
 

UL Listed

Products with a UL Listing have been tested to meet nationally recognized safety standards. They have been tested as complete final products, and found to be free from reasonably foreseeable risk of fire, electric shock and other hazards; and display the UL Listed Mark on product packaging and marketing materials (shown above).

UL Listed lithium-ion walkie pallet truck batteries can be used in all brands currently available, giving the end user a tremendous level of confidence that any equipment will run safely and ensure the protection of employees and property.
 
 

UL Recognized Component

Components covered by UL’s “Recognized Component” program are intended to be installed in another device, system or end product and are not a final product. They must be factory installed (no field installation) and they may have restricted performance capabilities that limit their use.

When looking at industrial lithium-ion batteries for walkie pallet trucks, this mark restricts which trucks the battery is compatible with, and further testing of the end product is required to obtain a full UL Listing.

UL Experience and Expertise

UL is the global standard for certifying the compliance and safety of electronic equipment. UL invests its resources in making sure it’s standards are up to date in today’s rapidly changing market ensuring tested products are safe for users. To help maintain trust, UL partners with law enforcement worldwide to seize counterfeit products that attempt to fraudulently bear UL marks.

Why Use a UL Listed Lithium-Ion Battery?

UL Listed lithium-ion batteries are creating a paradigm shift not only in the consumer world, but in the material handling industry as well. The long runtimes, no maintenance, fast-charge capability and reduced cost of ownership make lithium-ion an attractive choice for industrial equipment such as walkie pallet trucks and forklifts.

As with any new technology, questions about safety arise and it is informative and helpful having a trusted independent third-party such as UL conduct extensive product testing and certification. End users then have confidence in the safety of their employees and operation.
 
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Flux Power is pleased to offer the UL Listed LiFT Pack™ lithium-ion battery. The LiFT Pack fits almost any existing walkie pallet truck on the market, and is a drop-in replacement for lead-acid.

To learn more contact Flux Power at sales@fluxpwr.com or call us at 877-505-3589.  
 

Six Reasons Lithium-ion Batteries Work Better for Pallet Jacks than Traditional Power Sources

Lithium-ion batteries are gradually replacing older battery technologies in a variety of applications.  When it comes to material handling and electric walkie pallet trucks in particular, the switch is happening for a number of compelling reasons.

  1. No Need to Water Lithium-Ion batteries

Lead acid batteries require regular watering to maintain battery health. Watering is required because when lead-acid batteries charge, water in the electrolyte splits into hydrogen and oxygen, creating explosive dangerous gas that must be ventilated.  This process, along with evaporation, lowers water levels in the battery. If the water is not replaced and the battery stays in use, it causes damage and reduces the battery life.  In addition, overfilling the battery creates a risk of acid spills, a messy and dangerous business.

Lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, are completely sealed and require no watering. Charging and cell balancing is monitored by the battery management system so equalization charges are never needed and no dangerous gasses are ever generated under normal use.

  1. Lithium-Ion Batteries Charge Faster

Battery charge times vary depending on battery capacity, chemistry, and charger output.  Lead acid batteries produce a substantial amount of heat when charging and require a ‘cooldown’ period afterward.  A typical charge/use cycle for lead acid is 8 ours use, 8 hours charge and 8 hours rest/cooldown.  By contrast, a typical charge cycle for a lithium-ion battery could be 8 hours use, 1 hour charge, and 8 hours use (no cooldown needed).  This allows the battery to be used continuously, while charging during breaks and lunch.

When running two or three shift operations, lead-acid batteries must be swapped out for charging and cooldown, meaning additional batteries are needed as well as storage areas with ventilation for dangerous gases.  By contrast, with lithium-ion batteries running your fleet of walkie pallet jacks, you do not need to swap batteries nor do you need ventilated charging / storage areas.

  1. Say Goodbye to Acid and Lead Contamination

Acid spills and lead contamination are especially significant to industries such as food processing, grocery, pharmaceutical and beverage delivery.  No company wants walkie pallet jacks to be a source of contamination for their products or employees.  By shifting from lead acid to lithium-ion batteries, you never need to worry about acid spills and lead contamination again.

  1. Lithium-ion Lasts Longer

Lithium-ion technology is widely used in portable electronic devices because it provides long runtimes, and has superior cycle life.  Pioneers in the lithium-ion sector for industrial applications, such as Flux Power, are taking the benefits of lithium-ion and applying them to material handling applications.  Lithium-ion batteries for pallet jacks last 3-5x longer.

Runtime testing has shown that lithium-ion batteries have dramatically increased runtimes when compared to lead-acid. A Flux LiFT Pack lithium-ion battery in an electric walkie pallet jack runs 45% longer than similarly rated (amp-hour) lead-acid batteries.  This coupled with fast charging capabilities equals less downtime and greater productivity.

  1. Lithium-ion Batteries Are More Powerful

Lithium-ion batteries have flat discharge curves and provide higher constant power compared to lead-acid. This basically means that you can continue using your lithium-ion powered pallet jack without annoying sluggishness as the battery drains. Keeping your inventory moving and workers happy.

  1. Simple Switch to Green Technology

There are numerous benefits when converting to lithium-ion technology, including the simple fact that lithium-ion is a more ‘green’ solution, with zero emissions, no lead, and no acid.  The chemistry is also more efficiency, meaning you’ll be using up to 30% less energy, reducing CO2 emissions.  The batteries also last longer, meaning you’re using 3-5x fewer batteries, further reducing CO2 emissions.  The batteries are weighted to meet minimum truck requirements and can weigh a couple hundred pounds. A solution like the Flux LiFT Pack is plug and play. So you can convert an existing fleet of lift truck lead-acid batteries without any conversion kit required. Simply disconnect your old battery, lift and replace with your new lithium-ion battery to begin using a more convenient, productive and cost-effective power source.

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For more information on converting your walkie pallet jacks to lithium-ion power, visit fluxpwr.com.

 

 

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We are pleased to announce that Flux Power and our CEO Ron Dutt have been recognized by Food Logistics Magazine for our efforts in bringing our LiFT Pack lithium-ion battery technology to benefit operations in the food and beverage industry supply chain. In Food Logistics’ annual survey, Ron Dutt was named one of Food Logistics Magazine’s 2017 Champions: Rock Stars of the Supply Chain.

With over 24,000 subscribers and an active website and social media presence, Food Logistics is the only publication exclusively dedicated to food and beverage industry executives. While industrial battery executives are not often thought of as “Rocks Stars,” we completely agree that Ron is our star, and we are extremely grateful for the food and beverage industry’s acknowledgement of the hard work of the entire Flux team under Ron’s steady leadership. Flux’s press release announcing this honor can be accessed here.

For the past three years, Flux has been singularly focused on transforming the energy storage options available to the food logistics industry and other material handling intensive businesses. Flux’s state-of-the-art lithium forklift batteries deliver improved performance, efficiency, run times and useful life, with little or no maintenance and no risk of acid spills or vapor – all at a substantially lower total cost of ownership. It’s a win-win for the customer and the food logistics industry.

The acknowledgement by Food Logistics underscores the increasing interest, piloting and shipments of Flux LiFT Pack batteries to power multi-shift operations at a growing base of food industry distribution centers across America. Moreover, Flux LiFT Packs are based on safe cell chemistry and are the first UL 2271 listed lithium battery offerings to power forklifts – the indispensable workhorses of food logistics.

We thank Food Logistics for their coverage of important news and trends in the industry and in particular for highlighting how Flux battery solutions can support the future success of food and beverage industry participants. Not only does this honor support our existing dialogues, but the publication’s reach will expand awareness of the coming new age of Flux battery technology to more effectively power food and beverage operations.

Flux Power Holdings

Q1 ’17 Q&A with CEO Ron Dutt

1. What is the status of Flux’s lithium pack built for airline ground support equipment?

A: During our fiscal fourth quarter of 2016, we successfully completed a pilot of our custom-developed, 72-volt battery pack to power electric aviation ground support equipment with a leading regional airline at Los Angeles International Airport.  Feedback on our packs from both the airline and our distribution partner is very positive and Flux expects to break through with first sales to this customer in the quarter to come.  The successful development and 3-month pilot highlights the scalability of our design and engineering capabilities, as well as, our proprietary battery management technology for a broad array of motive power applications. Importantly it also moves us into a customer price point of roughly $20,000 to $25,000 per pack for several power rating alternatives, creating an excellent new leg of growth potential.

LAX is also the site of a second trial with another major airline that is progressing well.  The industry has taken note of the performance features of our lithium power solution and are eager to upgrade past legacy sources of power for ground support equipment.  Performance of our lithium packs is apparent, they only remaining hurdle to firm orders is to demonstrate cost value proposition of lithium power to the accountants who keep a firm eye on initial spending decisions.

Charlatte, the leading manufacturer of battery powered electric airport vehicles throughout Europe and the USA, is now conducting a review and trial of our GSE pack.  We believe the support of Charlatte will be a major influence in our exposure and sales growth.  

2. Can you talk about some of the large accounts that have just started the piloting process for their walkie pallet jack forklift fleets?

A: Flux has on-boarded more than a dozen large accounts over the last two years all of whom have transacted modest sales to date as a precursor to full deployment at some point in the future.  More recently, Flux has commenced the piloting process with another dozen or more large accounts that have caught wind through the industry grapevine of the performance and long term cost benefits of our lithium power solution.  I define ‘large accounts’ as an organization that maintains anywhere from 100 – 500 walkie pallet jacks in their fleet of equipment and in most cases owns or rents larger forklifts such as End Riders (a Class III cousin of walkie pallet jacks) in addition to Class I vehicles.  

The most active interest in our LiFT Packs continues to come from companies involved with food and beverage distribution, grocery stores and specialty retail operations. 

3. What is the feedback from the OEM’s on the current lineup of UL Listed LiFT Packs

A: I met with Toyota and Crown at their headquarters over the summer to give them a Flux Power business update as well as to collectively strategize on our sales pipeline.  OEM’s are obviously very much aware of the entire forklift power ecosystem and see strong demand for lithium-based alternative power solutions. These OEMs, by the way, have approved our packs for use on their lift equipment.  It just so happens that Flux believes that we have the premier lithium-based solution due in part to our advanced technology and first-mover advantage including the only UL Listed product in this industry.  Equally important is the goodwill and trusted relationships Flux has built with a variety of dealers, distributors and clients; those parties are the beneficiaries of our commitment to client service.

4. Why are Flux LiFT Packs such a good fit for the food service industry?

We’ve been very impressed with the vision and openness of the food industry to trying a new power solution for their forklifts. The importance of reliability and performance, combined with a lower total cost of ownership was quick to resonate with this audience, generating some of our earliest customers and pilots. We are grateful for this support.  Now that we have built in customer requested features and secured UL and OEM approvals, we’re ramping our shipments and our production capacity to serve the demand we have created.

Flux batteries provide an enormous opportunity to optimize food industry supply chains by enhancing productivity, providing faster charging, longer operating times and eliminating battery maintenance while also reducing fixed costs. Our “LiFT Packs” are also an environmentally friendly battery solution that frees the food industry from the maintenance, venting, safety, performance, useful life and other drawbacks of lead acid batteries. 

5.  Can you give a high level overview of your battery management system?

Our systems use lithium-ion cells that are denser in energy than traditional lead-acid batteries, which allow our batteries to hold more charge over the same weight. In addition, our BMS protects the lithium-ion batteries enabling the lithium-ion batteries to reach their full life and cycle potential and generating longer run times than lead-acid based batteries.  Longer run times equates to fewer battery changes and therefore fewer costs over the same time period. Our systems manage individual cells and their charge cycles, which generally allows for more consistent discharge capability and ease of maintenance over an unmanaged battery. Through our BMS, we have enhanced battery systems overall to provide safer, more reliable and extended life rechargeable energy storage systems for applications including motive, marine, industrial, military, stationary, and grid management markets.  The lithium chemistry in our cells, Lithium iron phosphate, is one of the safest, most cost effective, and widely accepted Lithium alternatives available.

 

 

Greetings Flux Stakeholders:

While Tesla’s Elon Musk seems to grab all the media attention – here at Flux there is great momentum building for new battery technologies for industrial motive equipment. The prospect of new lithium-ion power is a similarly transformative opportunity for those who have had to get by on decades old lead-acid energy storage.

Flux Power is a leader in bringing new efficient, cost effective and environmentally sensitive battery solutions to industrial uses, with a current focus on forklifts and more recently extending our capabilities to airport ground support vehicles.

My purpose in writing today is to update you on how we are advancing Flux’s products and market opportunities in a very meaningful way. It is really quite remarkable that just 3 years ago – we had not yet entered the industrial energy storage market, yet now we are a clear leader in this developing space.

Flux battery technology is well received in our target markets where we have built close relationships with leading OEMs, distribution partners and end-users. After several years of hard work by our team introducing partners and customers to our prototype and production models, we now have state-of-the-art products and technology and in-depth expertise that we build into our newest solutions. Each day the capabilities and potential of our organization grows, while also positioning Flux to pursue an even larger segment of the industrial motive power market.

averest-external-iso

A meaningful amount of resources have been spent the last few months addressing product warranty issues in our earlier prototype models. However, there is a very tangible benefit from these client service costs by demonstrating our loyalty and credibility as a long-term partner in the eyes of our customers, distributors and OEMs. The overwhelming majority of our largest customer opportunities remain solidly engaged with Flux and are eager to move forward with final trials and deployments as our production capacity ramps to commercial levels over the balance of calendar 2016. At the same time, we are also adding significant new prospects to our pipeline.

Class III Walkie Forklifts

As you know, our primary focus has been with our entry-level LiFT Pack line to power walkie pallet jack forklifts. The pace of sales the last few quarters has been limited by our focus on converting Flux’s production from small-run production and prototyping into large scale production of our UL-listed products. But what our revenues do not show is the deliberate piloting of Flux LiFT Packs by marquee accounts with significant material handling demands that require them to maintain large fleets of forklifts.

We purposely dialed down production over the last two quarters in order to incorporate all the improvements gleaned from the UL review process last winter as well implement important engineering features that stem from our model changeover. We have also spent the past several months building specialized assembly and testing stations that are designed to speed production time frames by automating many facets of testing and assembly.

Flux has recently begun to ramp production levels on our factory floor, and despite some expected hiccups along the way, we believe we remain on target to meet our goal of producing 100 packs per month by early September. Many of our design and production enhancements, including relationships with new manufacturing partners, should contribute substantially to our gross margins; financial improvements you should start to see in our fiscal 2nd quarter ending December 2016, with further improvements thereafter.

Airport Ground Support Vehicles

We recently completed a very successful three-month pilot of Flux’s ‘Airport Pack’ for ground support vehicles by a leading regional airline at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). This exciting business development initiative for larger, higher power storage solutions was spearheaded by Averest, Inc., a leading distributor of industrial batteries and chargers for aviation ground support.

The successful development and 3-month pilot highlights the scalability of Flux Power’s design and engineering capabilities as well as our proprietary battery management technology for a broad array of motive power applications. Importantly it also moves us into a customer price point of roughly $20,000 to $25,000 per pack for several power rating alternatives, creating an excellent new leg of growth potential.

Interest in the benefits of lithium-ion storage in Airport ground support equipment seems strong, as we have redeployed this same Airport Pack to another major airline carrier, also at LAX, for internal piloting over the next few months. And Averest is also working on a third pilot opportunity in the Pacific Northwest for an additional Airport Pack that we just completed.

To build visibility and interest in this compelling new alternative to lead-acid batteries for ground support equipment, Flux will be exhibiting at the International Airport Ground Support Expo in Las Vegas with our industry partner Averest. This expo is the most significant annual forum for the ground support equipment industry, providing significant visibility for Flux in global market with an estimated 20,000 ground support vehicles that could benefit from better and lower total cost power source.

Class I Forklift Opportunity Emerges

An exciting byproduct of our work in the Class III Lift Truck market has been a recent rise in OEM interest for Flux to develop, larger and more powerful lithium-ion solutions to address the far larger Class I forklift market. This interest is not without precedent, as Flux has already demonstrated its ability to scale its solutions in much higher performance requirements needed to address the Class I opportunity. While we still have much work to do on executing on our Class III LiFT Pack opportunity, we are encouraged to see interest in a Class I opportunity and feel confident our ground support equipment success provides a clear path to larger forklift solutions.

Financing Update

As our recent public filings indicate, Flux has been successful in attracting additional capital to fund our product development and to move into full-scale production and commercialization. Over the past few months Flux has successfully raised over $3 million, comprised of $2.1 million in new equity investment, along with the conversion of $1.7 million of debt held by our largest shareholder Esenjay Investments into common stock, all priced at $0.04 per share with no warrants.

Flux greatly appreciates the financial commitment from both existing and new shareholders to help fund Flux’s move into large scale commercial production. Particular thanks go to Michael Johnson, a Flux Director and via Esenjay, the Company’s largest investor, for his tremendous financial and strategic support of the Flux mission the past several years.

In summary, Flux has propelled itself to a leadership position in the emerging market for lithium-ion to replace lead-acid in industrial motive power. Over the next year it is our singular focus to convert this position into a significant and growing revenue stream with solid and improving gross profit margins.

I look forward to updating you further on our progress in late September when we expect to report our annual results for fiscal year 2016. We will likely forgo the expense of a conference call once again but welcome any questions answers for which will be published here on the Flux Currents blog.

Best Regards,

Ron

Flux – Powering Your Every Move

Greetings Flux Power stakeholders,

As the summer kicks in, I thought I would take this moment to update you on the progress we are making at Flux Power.

The sales team and I have been on the road meeting with members of our national battery and forklift ecosystem including distributors, dealers and end-users as we completed our fiscal year 2016 and enter fiscal 2017 beginning July 1, 2016.

Everyone we meet with shares our enthusiasm for our newly launched UL 2271 Listed LiFT Pack line for walkie pallet jacks.  The financial and performance benefits of this cutting edge technology are clear and our lithium packs are also a great way to support ‘green’ technology.

These are some of the reasons Flux is securing repeat orders from large enterprise customers including some of the most vocal supporters of the lithium revolution that is beginning to sweep the motive power industry.

Our core group of customers has always included global beverage producers, national grocers and those involved in the food service arena among others, and we’re excited that another leading beverage bottler has recently signed up to start piloting our packs.

Our Flux LiFT Pack – with UL Mark proudly displayed – is no ordinary ‘black box’ and far from it! The UL stamp is an unmistakable sign of the safety and durability features we have built into our packs.

With this unparalleled product line, Flux is making good progress toward our production goal of 100 packs per month by the end of the summer. A wide array of systems and processes must be established and put in place to support an efficient ramp in our production. This takes time but is critical to our growth plans and trajectory. From the 100 pack per month goal, we look to further ramp production to 200 units per month by calendar year-end 2016.

UL cutout w branding white

The good news is that demand seems very solidly established – including an order backlog of over 100 units. The downside is that there are not short cuts to ramping production – so we are moving that process as quickly as possible to meet our production goals.

From Warehouses …. to Airports

Concurrent with our LiFT Pack progress, the airline industry is also getting an initial taste of the future of motive power as Flux completes our first pilot of a lithium-ion ‘Airport Pack’ storage solution that powers aviation ground support equipment.

Battery

The first pilot program with a leading national airline at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has been progressing very well over the first two months, and there is less than a month left in this initial pilot. LAX is also expected to be the site of a second Airport Pack pilot program with another national carrier.

In keeping with the industry norm, we chose white as the color for this pack. It’s not the look but the performance of our packs that really stands out when compared with the incumbent power source: lead-acid storage. Airports and airlines stand to benefit from the very same improvements in charging, performance and lifespan that lead to substantial cost savings and improved efficiency.

The Airport market offers a substantial new opportunity for Flux with a base price of approximately $20,000 and an estimated 10,000 pieces of equipment that could use this better performing technology.

In Summary – Bringing Better Power to the People

Flux is focused on the multi-billion dollar opportunity to bring our lithium technology to industrial applications that are currently mired in decades-old lead acid technology (and we haven’t yet mentioned safety or the environmental benefits.)

Currently, as you can see, our efforts are centered on material handling vehicle applications such as forklifts. Our fundamental value proposition is combining our technical and design expertise along with our battery management system software and circuitry and other proprietary technology, to develop lithium cells that deliver better performance at a lower total cost.

airport

Part of the challenge is to fit the specifications of each piece of equipment. The current Flux LiFT Pack line in use today is very modular and scalable. It’s that technology platform that we find particularly exciting about the future for Flux.

Our core system can be tailored to a number of sectors in the industrial equipment market – a market that is just starting to awaken to the benefits of a new age of power.

Thank you for your support and interest; please help us spread the word that “the lithium is coming!”

Have a great summer!

Ron Dutt
Flux Power CEO

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