Battery Power Industries (BPI) has provided the battery drive system for Manitou Southern Africa’s first electric telehandler.
Manitou’s battery driven telehandler, the first of its kind, was unveiled earlier this year at Electra Mining Africa 2018, and has already found its first customer, mining infrastructure construction firm TDS Projects Construction.
BPI designed and implemented the conversion of the telehandler from a diesel driven system to a fully electric system using lithium-ion battery technology.
A South Africa OEM specialising in the development of battery energy systems, electrical traction systems and high speed charging systems for underground mining equipment, BPI was launched in 2018.
Calvin Coetzee, BPI Managing Director, said: “We were approached by TDS Projects Construction to design an electrical system for the MHT-790E electric telescopic handler to address their need to eliminate fatigue in the mines associated with diesel particulate emissions, particularly in tight and closed off areas. This is one of many common challenges facing the mining industry that our technology is able to address.”
The transporting of fuel to refuel diesel machines is also challenging in terms of time, cost and accessibility and can be solved by the switch from conventional diesel to electric systems, according to Coetzee.
“Electric machines and equipment can solve these problems without the loss of power or production time. All of this is perfectly illustrated in the MHT-790E electric telescopic handler,” he said.
The MHT-790E electric telescopic handler has a lifting capacity of up to 9 t and a lifting height of up to 6.84 m. The machine is powered by a LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery, known to be one of the safest battery chemistry compositions for its thermal and chemical stability, according to BPI.
The additional advantages of using this type of battery include its low cost, non-toxicity, the natural abundance of iron, safety characteristics and electrochemical performance, according to Coetzee.
“In the MHT-790E electric telescopic handler all of these advantages culminate into a machine with zero emissions and far less heat being produced which protects the health and safety of those working in confined areas such as tunnels and mines.
“It also has a long battery life expectancy of 3,000 cycles and continuous battery shift time of eight hours, combined with a high speed charging time of 90 minutes or on-board charging time of eight hours, to ensure an uninterrupted work shift,” Coetzee adds.
BPI’s system addresses mining ventilation as well. The heat produced by machinery working underground puts pressure on ventilation systems resulting in additional costs for system upgrades.
“Due to the fact that it emits far less heat than a conventional diesel driven machine, the MHT-790E does not put pressure on these systems, resulting in savings on fuel needed to support ventilation as well as savings in upgrade costs,” Coetzee says.
This was achieved with the machine’s built-in active air-cooling system which is completely sealed and cools the air down to keep the battery temperature at optimum levels while the electric motor is cooled via a water cooling method. This system is part of BPI’s ultra-safe design approach to all systems.
Additional safety features built into the MHT-790E telehandler include various detection systems, ensuring that the vehicle slows down should a person, vehicle or obstacle be detected, thus reducing the possibility of accidents. The battery pack included in the MHT-790E is also 3G impact rated, protecting it in the unlikely event of an accident. An automatic fire detection and suppression system specifically designed for lithium-ion battery systems also forms part of the system allowing for the detection and protection of any electrical sparks and smoke, or short circuit overload that may occur.
“BPI’s main objective is to remove all emissions and harmful equipment from use in mining operations as part of our innovation-led approach to sustainable mining. This approach involves the application of cutting-edge technology to address mining’s major challenges,” Coetzee said.
“We firmly believe that our designs are able to outperform traditional diesel-fuelled vehicles on the market and achieve considerable energy cost savings and lower overall machine costs. The launch of the Manitou’s MHT-790E electric telehandler affords us the opportunity to have the return of investment on our electric vehicle systems field proven.”
According to Manitou, the MHT-790E electric telehandler offers a return on investment over a period of just two-to-four years.
Manitou Southern Africa states: “Savings on fuel, possible fuel rebates and reduced maintenance costs, as opposed to maintenance on a diesel powered vehicle, all contribute to the cost effectiveness of the machine. The estimated running cost of the MHT-790E is 32% of a diesel equivalent which, combined with the multi-functionality of a telescopic handler and an array of available attachments, is a truly cost effective solution for the mining and construction industries.”
BPI’s team was challenged with a turnaround time of just three months to complete the project – from conceptualization through to design, procurement, manufacturing construction, assembly and, finally, commissioning.
The first MHT-790E electric telehandler was purchased by TDS Projects Construction, who will be using it in its underground operations.