March 19, 2014

Meet your (battery) match

By DC Velocity Staff

Is fast-charging right for your forklift fleet? And if so, what battery and charger types will meet your needs? Answering these questions can be daunting, especially considering that there are thousands of different types and sizes of fast-charging batteries on the market.

Battery manufacturer EnerSys has tried to make the decision easier by developing the ZBC (Zero Battery Change) Designer software, a modeling program that identifies not only the most efficient but also the most cost-effective battery and charger combination for companies running forklift fleets.

An EnerSys sales rep walks the customer through the modeling process, entering specifications such as number of shifts, hours of operation, number of trucks, truck capacity, and truck type. The software then provides customized recommendations. It compares and suggests different sizes and types of batteries and chargers, and analyzes the overall total cost of ownership for each.

While the software is designed to look at fast-charging or opportunity charging (or what Enersys calls "zero battery changing"), it will also let companies know if it makes more sense for their operation to continue using propane or a traditional battery changing model. (Fast-charging involves plugging a battery into a charger and charging it during breaks, while traditional battery changing involves swapping out a depleted battery with a fully charged one.)

"Before, these types of decisions were made based on 'back of a napkin' calculations," said Bret Aker, who designed the software. "This makes it scientific."

The software also enables customers to explore the impact of adding shifts, accommodating seasonal spikes, evaluating yearly growth, and even removing potentially redundant assets.

More coverage from MODEX 2014