Benoni-headquartered lead acid battery manufacturer First National Battery is the only local manufacturer of surface motive power (SMP) batteries left in South Africa, says First National Battery SMP national sales manager Eugene Marais.
The company produces more than 2.2-million batteries a year and exports its leading solutions, which include its SMP batteries, to more than 40 countries.
The demand for SMP batteries is high and is influenced by the increased use of electric warehouse materials handling equipment, scissorjacks, as well as warehouse cleaning equipment.
“These industrial applications need reliable and powerful batteries to perform their functions effortlessly. SMP batteries not only power the motors that drives electric vehicles but, in forklifts, also plays a role in supporting the machine’s counterweight balance,” states Marais.
Buying the correct SMP battery for an industrial application is an investment, ensuring that applications are performed optimally while powering the forklift for up to six years.
Established in 1931 to produce automotive batteries, the company entered the industrial field about 46 years ago to strengthen its position in the market.
“Our product and factory have stood the test of time and the industrial division at our East London factory has established the company as a South African-owned and -controlled manufacturer of both automotive and industrial batteries,” says Marais.
Using locally sourced materials, the SMP manufacturing process encompasses the production of negative grids and positive spines, filling of the spines and pasting of the negative grids with active material.
This is followed by the assembly of the negative and positive plates using different multiples of negative and positive plates to achieve the required power output. The positive and negative plates are welded together in parallel and separated using polyethylene separators to prevent short circuits.
Lastly, the cells are filled with dilute sulphuric acid and activated using a direct current.
First National Battery’s SMP batteries are compliant with the internationally recognised quality and safety DIN standards prescribed by the German national organisation for standardisation.
Therefore, in accordance with DIN standards, all motive power batteries supplied by the company are assembled in steel trays that are sandblasted and treated with an acid-resistant epoxy powder coating.
Further, take-off cables are anchored according to DIN requirements. Drain tubes can be fitted to allow for rinse water extraction using a suction device and each tank has a multilingual safety label.
Businesses investing in First National Battery’s SMP batteries can benefit from robust batteries that require lower maintenance and have a reduced self-discharge rate, as the company ensures low antimony is produced in SMP positive battery plates, says Marais.
SMP batteries with low antimony positive plates require less frequent replenishing charge, reduce operating costs, lower the risk of overcharge during the first charge and offer an increased service life.
First National Battery offers batteries for the automotive industry, including industrial, commercial and passenger vehicles; mining; telecommunications and standby battery solutions; as well as railway; renewable energy and surface traction applications.
The company’s vehicle battery solutions are trusted by original-equipment manufacturers in South Africa, which include automotive vehicle manufacturers Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Nissan, GM SA, BMW, Volkswagen SA and MAN.
“Automotive battery components, which include lead, plastic and sulphuric acid are harmful to our environment if they are not properly treated. Fortunately, most of the components comprising these batteries are well suited to recycling. First National Battery has the biggest battery recycling plant in South Africa and is one of the few local organisations with the necessary facilities and knowledge to ensure the safe recycling and disposal of lead acid battery components,” highlights Marais.
The Benoni-based recycling facility not only helps reduce the risk of polluting the environment and prevents waste but also controls the quality of lead being used by First National Battery to manufacture new batteries.
First National Battery distribute their product under the Raylite brand name which is one of the most well-known brands in sub-Saharan Africa, says Marais.
First National Battery also offers the Raylite Rental option. This will allow the customer to rent batteries from 24 months up to 60 months depending on the application.