Lift truck tips: Plug-in lift trucks

Fast-charge technology improves uptime in sluggish cold storage operations
By Josh Bond, Senior Editor
November 23, 2010 - MMH Editorial

If time is money, then increasing speed is probably a good investment. Too often, exhausted batteries force lift truck operators to hurry up and wait while the recharge station works its eight- to 10-hour magic. In cold storage applications, this rhythm can have an even larger impact on the efficiency of an operation, making fast-charging battery technology an appealing alternative.

Fast-charge isn’t for everyone, admits Scott McLeod, president of Fleetman Consulting, but many companies that might benefit from the technology, especially in cold storage environments, have yet to take the first step.

“They just keep doing it the same old way,” says McLeod. “They don’t even investigate. But everybody is trying to do more with less.”

For any fleet, McLeod says the first step is to use energy consumption meters to determine the base level of energy use. Over a suitable sample period, from one week to two months, a picture will begin to emerge of the daily patterns of battery use and recharge time.

Fast-charge equipment can cut charge times by as much as 75%, says McLeod, from eight hours to two, for instance. But charging need not occur all at once. If an operator connects a lift truck to the fast-charger during breaks, lunch and shift changes, the truck could remain operational as many as 24 hours per day.

Because of the substantial costs of cooling in cold storage facilities, all-day lift trucks could help make every minute count. Multi-shift environments are more likely to benefit from quick-charge technology, says McLeod. This is especially true in cold storage, where a battery will hold a charge for an average of 25% less time. There are lots of intangible savings as well, says McLeod, such as the cool air lost each time a truck exits cold storage for a battery swap, and the labor costs associated with such journeys.

With energy meter data in hand, managers might find that the warehouse’s work cycle needs some tweaking to align with the fast-charge rhythm. If fast-charge is a good fit, managers might eliminate spare battery inventory, increase productivity and improve energy efficiency. And replacing the traditional battery exchange process with a simple plug might result in much happier employees, McLeod suggests.

“You can just imagine the manpower and the agony of getting those batteries out of the lift trucks and into the charging stations and back, especially when those batteries are at below-zero temperatures,” he says.

On the other hand, plug-in lift trucks remove the need for heavy lifting. And, as many cold storage managers are well aware, nothing chills productivity like worker fatigue and unattractive duties.

 



About the Author

image
Josh Bond
Senior Editor

Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.


Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world's most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

This one-day WERC educational and networking event will be held at the Grapevine Convention Center in Grapevine outside Dallas on Tuesday, October 13.

HyPulsion was founded by Plug Power and Air Liquide in 2012 to build the adoption of hydrogen and fuel cells in Europe. Plug Power is now poised to convert the $20 billion European material handling lift truck market to hydrogen fuel cell power.

Widely known as the “father of robotics,” Engelberger launched the world’s first robotics company, Unimation, in 1956.

Volume was up 34 percent from $7.1 billion in May. Year to date, cumulative new business volume increased 9 percent compared to 2014.

U.S. industrial manufacturers push pause on spending plans, according to PwC’s Q2 2015 Manufacturing Barometer.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2015 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA