Lift truck batteries are such an integral part of warehouse and DC operations that they're often taken for granted. They shouldn't be: Over time, operational requirements change and lift truck batteries and associated equipment—chargers, watering systems, monitors, and the like—become obsolete or their performance declines.
If that sounds familiar, then it might be time to replace or upgrade your current equipment. The following are some of the battery-related products that have been released in the past year or so. They may be just the ticket for helping you get top-flight performance from your lift trucks.
Lithium-ion charger and battery pack. The Superion lithium-ion charger and battery pack for pallet jacks received MHI's Innovation Award in 2014 for its ability to provide pallet jacks with more energy-dense and cost-effective battery power than lead acid batteries can. Made by Applied Energy Solutions, the unit is maintenance-free, recharges quickly, and requires less energy to do so, saving money while delivering an environmentally friendly source of energy. Applied Energy Solutions
Water deionizer. Battery Watering Technologies has improved its water deionizer by replacing the previous purity-indicator light with a battery-operated version. As a result, the deionizer no longer has to be plugged in to operate and is now completely mobile. The new light is a "push to check" unit—"Good" indicates the cartridge is fine, while "Service" means the cartridge needs to be replaced. Battery Watering Technologies
Hydrogen exhaust monitoring kit. The BHS Hydrogen Exhaust Fan Kit from Battery Handling Systems (BHS) monitors hydrogen gas levels, activating the operating alarms and ventilation fans when necessary to exhaust gases. The kit is intended for use in battery-charging rooms and other areas where hydrogen gas may be present. BHS also offers an online calculator for estimating the possible level of hydrogen in a facility. BHS Battery Handling Systems Inc.
Battery monitoring device. Douglas DataTrac from Douglas Battery, an EnerSys brand, attaches to a battery to collect data about the battery's usage, charge return, water level, temperature, and equalization. DataTrac records minute-by-minute battery details that can be uploaded to a computer via Bluetooth and tracked using the company's Douglas Data Manager software. The device fits every battery make and model, the manufacturer says. Douglas Battery
Hydrogen gas detector for DC and AC. The HGD-2000 hydrogen gas detector from Eagle Eye Power Solutions is now available for DC power sources in addition to those with AC power. If the concentration of hydrogen gas in the air surrounding the sensor reaches 1 percent by volume, the yellow LED will light up and the 1-percent internal relay will close. If the concentration reaches 2 percent, the red LED will flash, an 80-decibel warning alarm will sound, and the 2-percent internal relay will close. Eagle Eye Power Solutions LLC
Lift truck battery selector guide. East Penn Manufacturing, manufacturer of Deka batteries, offers lift truck selector guides for 23 manufacturers at www.dekabatteries.com/default.aspx?pageid=751. The guides can help lift truck operators select the right battery for specific equipment and applications. Some guides have been updated to include new truck models, while others have been enhanced to include tray numbers and weights. East Penn Manufacturing Co. Inc.
High-frequency battery chargers. Sweden's Micropower has entered the North American market with the establishment of a new subsidiary, Ecotec Ltd. LLC. Ecotec's product line will consist primarily of energy-efficient high-frequency chargers for lift trucks, floor-cleaning equipment, and automated guided vehicles. The company offers its Access line of conventional and opportunity chargers with 208/240VAC and 480VAC input in a variety of specifications. The battery-mounted Pace 1300 charger for pallet jacks is designed to stand up to rough conditions. Ecotec Ltd.Modular, energy-efficient chargers. New Zealand's Enatel Motive Power, which recently entered the North American market, says its ECO Charge modular chargers, which offer up to 95 percent efficiency, were the first large battery chargers to comply with California's energy-efficiency rules. Enatel's eXtra High Frequency (XHF) technology makes ECO Charge the lightest and most compact charger on the market, the company says. The modular design allows the unit to continue to charge even if one module develops a fault; the faulty module can be replaced in a few minutes. DC Power Technologies is the master distributor for North America. DC Power Technologies Inc.
High-frequency, modular charger. The EnForcer IMPAQ high-frequency modular charger from EnerSys offer "intelligent charging" with the flexibility to maintain peak efficiency at all times, the manufacturer says. Modules can be automatically switched on and off based on charge-cycle requirements. If a module develops a minor fault, the charger bypasses it and continues the charging process. EnerSys says the charger complies with the latest global standards, including the California Energy Commission appliance efficiency standards. EnerSys
Maintenance-free gel battery. GNB Industrial Power, a division of Exide Technologies, unveiled its Tensor XGel battery at the CeMat trade show in Germany. According to the manufacturer, the Tensor XGel battery uses an advanced cell design for high performance, is maintenance-free, and requires no water refilling. GNB's engineers combined features from the company's Sonnenschein Gel and Tensor ultra-high-performance technologies. This allows for fast recharging, improved energy efficiency, and high energy content. GNB Industrial Power/Exide Technologies
Scalable modular chargers. Hawker Powersource has introduced the Lifetech Mod1 and Lifetech Mod1C high-frequency chargers. Their modular design allows each power module to operate independently. If one module stops working, the others continue charging the battery. The modules also automatically adjust based on a battery's charge-cycle requirements. The scalable design, with three-bay and six-bay charger cabinets, lets users add or remove modules in response to changing power needs. Hawker Powersource
Continual high-efficiency chargers. Power Designers USA says its Revolution series of smart battery chargers provides energy efficiencies that exceed current charging technology. The chargers employ a patent-pending technology that maintains efficiencies of 90 percent or greater over the entire charge cycle, not just during peak efficiencies measured during a limited portion of the charge cycle. This results in true energy savings of 6 percent or more compared with leading high-frequency chargers and results in the lowest energy cost per charge cycle in the industry, the manufacturer says. Power Designers USA LLC
Bar-code scanner for tracking battery performance. Philadelphia Scientific has introduced the iBOS bar-code scanner, an added feature of its iBOS battery-room management system. When combined with the battery-room management system, the bar-code scanner provides for increased visibility into battery and lift truck utilization. The handheld scanner enables the tracking of individual battery run times and lift truck utilization by scanning bar codes on each battery and truck. This information is then fed into the iBOS system and is reported through the iBOSWorld Web Service. Philadelphia Scientific LLC
Unmanned battery changing system. Sackett Systems' Northstar fully automated, high-speed system is capable of performing battery changes in one minute or less. Northstar uses laser distance measuring to precisely move, position, and map each battery location and is coordinated with the integrated Guardian Battery Management System for optimized battery rotation. The modular Northstar is easy to configure and incorporates an Allen Bradley SLC control system for ease of use, reliability, and longevity. Sackett Systems Inc.
Digital specific gravity tester for lead acid batteries. The SBS-2003 specific gravity tester from Storage Battery Systems (SBS) eliminates the need to write down readings and type them into reports or spreadsheets. Users simply insert the nozzle into the battery and depress the finger pump, which draws a few drops of sulfuric acid through the tube. Within three seconds, the measured refractive index is converted into a temperature-compensated specific gravity reading, and the specific gravity, temperature, and cell count are displayed. Data can then be transferred to a PC or laptop via Bluetooth, and the results can be downloaded into Excel. Storage Battery Systems LLC
Battery care and maintenance is a complex subject—you'll be excused if you sometimes feel you'd need a degree in physics to understand it. So where can you get a good education in lift truck batteries, chargers, and associated equipment? Speaking with manufacturers and dealers is the first step. But you can also access a remarkable array of information on manufacturers' and dealers' websites. In addition to the usual product literature and dealer directories, these websites often feature staff-written blogs with an educational focus, FAQs (frequently asked questions), safety information, videos that demonstrate how to use and maintain the vendor's products, and links to a wide range of information resources. Some include free online calculators of various types, guides for matching batteries with specific lift truck models, recycling guidelines, free educational webinars, white papers, newsletters, and more.
There's even a trade show devoted entirely to batteries! The Battery Show, scheduled for Sept. 16-18 in Novi, Mich., will showcase advanced battery solutions for electric and hybrid vehicles, utility and renewable energy support, portable electronics, and more.