Forklift Battery Solutions for Your Facility
Your facility may be hiding a significant opportunity for savings and process improvement. Greater oversight of your forklift battery management operations — charging, battery watering, maintenance and more — can lead to efficiency, cost-effectiveness and smoother overall operations in warehouses, distribution centers and any other building that uses powered forklifts.
In some cases, the ideal answer may be a full upgrade of your battery management approach, embracing new technologies such as lithium ion forklift battery systems. In other cases, new management approaches to charging could represent your most promising option. Turning battery management over to an expert third party could pay dividends. Alternatively, you can keep day-to-day operations in-house while setting up a maintenance partnership.
While the exact right solution will differ based on details such as the scale and speed of your logistics activity, one fact remains: There is potential value in looking more closely at electric forklift battery management.
How do forklift battery systems work?
Every forklift battery program can be broken down into a few distinct units. These are the operational components that keep forklift vehicles operating. These include:
- Choice of technology: Quite simply, what type of batteries do your forklift vehicles use? While variations on the traditional lead acid battery model remain dominant, an increasing number of operators are considering alternatives such as lithium ion battery systems, hydrogen fuel cells and more.
- Battery watering method: Working with lead acid batteries means having a battery watering system in place. Organizations need to pay attention to this aspect of their operations. When proper battery watering practices are ignored, the overall usable life and effectiveness of batteries can decrease.
- Approach to charging: Forklift battery charging schedules can be planned out in a number of different ways. Some facilities don't take a strategic approach, charging whenever they can. They may be passing up some operational efficiencies, or even weakening their equipment. Models such as opportunity charging and fast charging represent a more thought-out style.
- Maintenance and upkeep: Running equipment until it fails means settling for unnecessary downtime, and breakdowns affecting forklifts lead to logistics slowdowns and lost revenue opportunities. Organizations can take a more proactive approach to maintenance, especially when they work with third-party experts.
Optimized electric forklift battery management means considering these areas and more. More than simply placing batteries into vehicles every day, the most effective logistics organizations will look for opportunities to save money and improve their day-to-day efficiency through forklift battery management.
What's new in forklift battery technology?
While for years, forklift battery management meant lead acid battery management, options have diversified significantly. Now, businesses can choose from several battery solutions, each with its own pros and cons. This choice of technology might prove to be the key decision that sets the tone for a business's forklift usage.
Today's options include:
- Lithium ion batteries: These batteries have become very popular in recent years due to their promise of long-lasting power. One lithium ion forklift battery can have a battery life span as long as the usable life of the forklift truck itself. High-usage scenarios, such as multiple-shift forklift operations, are a good match for lithium ion batteries.
- Thin plate pure lead (TPPL) batteries: Organizations that have daily free time to charge batteries can thrive with TPPL cells. These batteries are quick to charge and are especially suitable for light-duty forklift use scenarios.
- Hydrogen fuel cells: Hydrogen fuel cells allow for very quick filling, and companies using this power option don't need to set aside large areas of floor space for charging equipment. This could be an ideal solution for greenfield sites that require forklift fleets.
- Lead acid batteries: While some facilities will take optimum value from using new technologies, the best approach for others will be to refresh their approach to charging and maintenance while still using lead acid batteries. Reliable, familiar and surprisingly green, these batteries have a place in today's logistics facilities.
While the choice of forklift battery technology is just one of the choices modern operators have to make, it is a formative decision. All other forklift battery management choices will be made to maximize the effectiveness of the selected industrial battery technology, whether that's a cutting-edge solution or a legacy option.
How can you transform your forklift battery management?
The crux of improved forklift battery management involves taking a more hands-on approach to this area of business. Rather than seeing forklift batteries as a cost center, companies that really focus on charging, watering and more can find ways to simultaneously strengthen their budgets and unlock increased efficiency in the warehouse.
The following are a few of the steps that contribute to rethinking forklift battery management, and that your organization can follow to improve its overall material handling practices:
- Start with an assessment: You can't truly know how to improve your industrial battery management operations until you understand what's currently going on. What's your organization's approach to watering? What's the condition of all relevant equipment? Are you charging batteries in an optimized way, from either a time management or space management perspective? An assessment will establish these important facts and point to possible solutions.
- Consider your unique needs: Some facilities operate a few forklift trucks on a single shift. Others require dozens of vehicles on two or three shifts. Your ideal approach to battery management will depend on where your business falls on this spectrum. For instance, forklift battery charging methods that take place during off-hours may be perfectly efficient for single-shift warehouses, while those running around the clock could benefit from implementing battery swap systems, so vehicles aren't idle when they could be active.
- Pick a power management model that works: There's more than one way to optimize power management. You can work with experts to establish new infrastructure and best practices. You can also implement a remote automated asset management system (RAAMS) to receive updates that will help you stay ahead of potential issues with your batteries, battery chargers and related systems. There are also fully managed service offerings that put all battery management duties in the hands of on-site experts. Getting the ideal match for your needs sets your organization up for material handling success.
Transforming forklift battery management helps remove a potential pain point from efficient warehouse operations, preventing lost revenue and allowing your organization to turn its focus to other areas. Especially if your business uses numerous vehicles on multiple shifts, the potential savings add up quickly.
Why choose Concentric as your motive power partner?
To make forklift battery management optimization truly matter, and to unlock the potential value from this process, you should ensure your business has a trusted and experienced partner organization on its side. This is where Concentric enters the picture.
Whether the ideal solution for your facility is as quick as a forklift battery charger equipment refresh or it involves a full managed services engagement, Concentric can provide the necessary perspective and industry experience. The application engineering team at Concentric has been active for over 20 years, elevating power management to a science and helping organizations of all kinds refresh their material handling operations.
With a Concentric-designed solution in place, your business can treat forklift battery management as a utility, rather than a cost center or a liability. The value gained from better forklift battery operations can have ripple effects throughout your business.To get started, request an assessment today.