Spirit AeroSystems is one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of aerostructures, which provides products and solutions for commercial and defense customers, including Airbus and Boeing.
In late 2018, Spirit AeroSystems started a demo project to stress-test a lithium-ion battery in an automatic guided vehicle (AGV). After nine months, the company’s entire fleet of lift trucks in Kinston, N.C., switched to lithium-ion batteries (OneCharge).
Most of the facility’s lift trucks are AGVs and MGVs (manually guided by an operator with a remote control). The company was facing chronic problems with maintenance and overall reduced runtime with the sealed lead-acid and thin-plate, pure lead (TPPL) batteries they had been using for the previous five years. The old lead acid batteries could not keep up with increased operational demands.
There was a stack of spare lead acid batteries at a special section of the facility requiring special ventilation and other safety features. Each truck was down for at least 30 to 40 minutes, six times a day (twice per shift) changing batteries.
“We have a large facility to manufacture parts for the AirBus A350, and we use lift trucks to move around big tools 24 hours a day,” says Allen Grady, equipment maintenance manager at Spirit AeroSystems. “Battery changing was a big hassle and big loss of time. With the new lithium-ion technology, we managed to sync our production schedule with battery charging. It is now out of service for charging only once or twice per day, the battery stays inside the truck, and it takes 1 to 1.5 hours to fully charge a battery.”