When it comes to battery chargers, it’s important to be educated about what types of products are on the market and how they apply to your forklift(s). In order to optimize battery life and keep employees safe, you have to be using the correct charger and following that product’s safety guidelines. We’re all trying to be more efficient, and finding the best charger can increase forklift run time, meaning less battery change time. From here, it’s possible to own less batteries and possibly fewer trucks, saving both space and money. There are three types of battery chargers: conventional, opportunity and fast chargers.
Conventional chargers are designed to run for eight hours, charge for eight hours and cool for eight hours. This brings the battery back to a 100% state of charge (SOC), providing a long run cycle ideal for single-shift operations.
Opportunity chargers are used whenever possible—during breaks or in between shifts. They generally bring a battery to 80-85% SOC during the day and 100% SOC once a day. These are ideal for multiple shift applications requiring 1.0-1.5 equivalent battery units (EBU), a measurement of forklift workload. These chargers are intended to eliminate battery changing during shifts. Due to their complexity relative to conventional chargers, they require a more advanced monitoring system with features such as battery temperature measurement to prevent overheating.
Fast chargers utilize several more upgrades to bring batteries up to 80-85% SOC three to four times faster than conventional chargers. Features include battery monitor and data storage. These chargers are recommended for applications greater than 1.5 EBUs and need to be returned to 100% SOC once a week. The goal is to achieve a 1:1 battery to truck ratio, cutting down on the cost of batteries and the time spent on battery changes. Doing this, however, requires that there be enough time between shifts, or breaks during shifts, to charge each battery.
There are several other factors to consider when selecting a battery charging program. With different types of chargers—particularly fast chargers—there are battery, vehicle, charger and electrical infrastructure requirements. So, while fast chargers sound convenient, they’re not for everybody. The best thing you can do is run the numbers and determine the true cost of each potential setup in light of your specific application.
Summit Handling Systems, Inc. (SHS) is the region’s fastest growing material handling equipment dealer. In business over 50 years, SHS employs experienced personnel eager to provide solutions for your material handling operation. We have been able to help our customers eliminate replacement battery storage areas, which allowed for the repurposing of that space for product storage or production, and to help sell those batteries to offset the cost. Contact us today to have a Summit representative visit your business for a free assessment of your battery program.
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