It's time to Drive-Up your efficiency
John Lawton, Director of Marketing at EnerSys Motive Power Europe, explains what energy solutions should be on your warehouse management agenda.
We are all facing uncertainties in our personal and business lives caused by the global economic slow-down. Many companies are facing lower sales volumes, a tightening of credit from the financial institutions and a sharp focus on managing costs.
Getting smart with your battery fleet may not be top of your agenda, in fact, it may not even be on your list of potential cost savings.
Let's explore how you can save money:
Does your business operate on 2 or 3 shifts per day?
Do you need to change batteries during or at the end of each shift?
Have you ever considered how long a battery change takes and the impact on productivity?
If you operate your Material Handling Equipment intensively on two or three shifts per day, battery changing is a necessity in keeping your business running. However, this can mean expensive down-time for your trucks which impacts on your productivity.
Traditional battery changing methods can take up to 10 minutes per change. The EnerSys PRO Series battery changing range can reduce this to as little as three minutes and this can have a huge impact on your productivity.
For example, if you run a 24/7 operation with 50 trucks and carry out 2 battery changes per truck per day you could reduce total battery changing time by over 4,200 hours per annum.
You could also reduce the size of your battery charging area by 60% releasing valuable floor space for your business.
If your truck operation is not intense then you should consider 'fast charging'. This eliminates the need to change batteries; you recharge the battery in the truck when it is not operating. You can recharge at coffee breaks, lunch time, between shifts and even during the shift when he truck is standing idle.
EnerSys can model your operation to ensure there is enough time to recharge the battery to meet your truck workload. (Only suitable for flooded batteries with airmix).
How efficient are your battery chargers?
Do you follow a 'best practice' charging regime?
Have you considered how much it costs to recharge your battery fleet and how you can reduce the cost?
There are two components that impact on the amount of electricity needed to recharge a battery:
The charger's efficiency
The charging factor
Conventional 50Hz charging technology uses large transformers which reduce the efficiency in converting AC input to DC output. These chargers, typically, can be around 80% efficient and older models can be considerably less. The charging factor is usually 1.20, that means 20% overcharge to mix the electrolyte and return the battery to a fully charged condition.
The EnerSys range of smart High Frequency chargers are >90% efficient and have charging factors of 1.08 to 1.15 depending on the battery technology. This can yield a reduction in electricity consumption of >15% which also has a positive impact on your Carbon Footprint.
Do you use the best battery technology for your business?
Do you want to reduce the frequency of your battery maintenance?
Are your buying decisions based on price or true cost of ownership?
There are three types of lead-acid battery technologies generally used in Material Handling Equipment:
Standard design flooded cells
Low maintenance flooded cells
Maintenance Free gel or AGM cells (Mostly suited to low duty applications with lower depth of discharge).
When making a buying decision for batteries, the visible costs are those for the battery & charger. What is not always understood at the point of acquisition are the operating & maintenance costs for the life of the product.
Flooded batteries require regular topping-up with deionised water. This can be weekly for standard designs but less frequent for Low Maintenance products. So you need to understand the cost of the water and the labour time required to add the water to the battery. Water topping-up is not needed for Maintenance Free batteries.
The other operating cost is electricity to recharge your batteries and this can vary depending on the battery technology and the charging system used (see Battery Charging section above).
So specifiers and buyers of batteries need to consider the 'true life time cost'. In other words, the cost of the battery and charger plus the water, labour and electricity costs to maintain it throughout its operational life.
EnerSys has recently launched two new products with reduced operating costs:
Hawker Water Less
This product is based on our proven, robust PzS technology flooded batteries but with the advantage of increased topping-up intervals. This can be four weeks when used with 50Hz charging technology (CF 1.20), eight weeks when used with Hawker HF chargers (CF1.10) which can be extended to 13 weeks with the optional extra of electrolyte circulation (CF 1.07).
Labour savings for less frequent topping-up are between 60%-90% and savings in electricity of up to 25%.
Hawker XFC Flex
This product is totally maintenance free, uses our Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL) technology and is unique in the way it can be operated due to its design and very low internal resistance. You can discharge the battery as required, you can safely opportunity charge the battery during coffee & lunch breaks, shift change-overs and whenever the truck is idle. You can safely operate the battery in a partially charged state and a full recharge from 60% DOD takes around three hours.
In addition to the increased flexibility in the use of your trucks, you also save on recharging costs as the Hawker Lifetech XFC charger used with this battery has a charging factor of 1.03!
Hawker XFC Flex is currently available for Class 3 pallet trucks, floor-care machines and other applications that require battery size up to 24V350Ah.