Batteries are the powerhouses for all electric warehouse equipment, particularly forklift machinery. So, to ensure they operate efficiently, it is crucial to charge and maintain them appropriately. However, the biggest headache for most operators and managers is finding the perfect battery charging technique that keeps operations up. The three main processes are conventional, opportunity and fast charging. Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of warehouse operations. Here is a detailed breakdown of the three techniques and how they impact productivity.
Conventional charging is the commonly used method for charging forklift batteries to keep them running. When using this technique, the vehicle must operate until the battery completely runs out of power. The batteries will then be removed from the forklift and placed in a charging unit that also cools them.
After fully charging the batteries, they are put back in the forklift machinery
to resume operations. Conventional charging is the workable solution for most warehouses since it is simple and setting up is cost-effective.
In essence, the operation of the battery adopts an 8-8-8 rule. The battery works for eight hours, recharges for eight hours, and cools down for eight hours. Unfortunately, this charging mode is incompatible with heavy warehouse operations and more compatible with single-shift operations.
Opportunity charging is an advanced technology that lets batteries charge quickly. The batteries also run for a long day for maximum productivity. This charging technique charges the battery when still in the forklift machinery.
Warehouses have dedicated charging stations to recharge the batteries throughout the day. Operators, therefore, do not require a charging schedule since they can plug in the battery mid-operations within breaks. Opportunity charging is more desirable for two-shift operations.
However, the batteries should be left to charge to full capacity at least once weekly. The greatest benefit of using this charging system is that it saves money since it does not require additional equipment. Alternatively, warehouse managers will not have to buy extra batteries for material handling in industries
Fast charging shares similar charging mechanisms as opportunity charging. However, the difference lies in the amount of current directed to the battery upon plugging the charger. Fast charging happens at the start of the charging cycle to cut down the time it takes to charge a battery to full capacity.
This system ensures operators and managers maximise on equipment used in each shift. Fast-charge batteries also feature modern technology that controls temperature release. The monitoring devices signal the charger to regulate heat release.
Fast charging is favourable as it saves costs by eliminating the need for special charging equipment or extra batteries. Moreover, in the long run, it minimises downtime by maximising operational efficiency.
Which Charging Technique is the Best for Productivity?
The type of forklift and material handling in industries will determine the best option to boost productivity. Charging techniques are not one-size-fits-all, and each has benefits and demerits to consider.
Opportunity and fast charging are the most reliable techniques for optimising warehouse productivity. They take between 10 and 30 minutes to charge, which saves time mid-operations when employees are on break. In addition, these charging systems support 24/7 warehouse operations since the batteries also hold a charge over longer periods.
On the other hand, conventional charging is ideal for one-shift operations where equipment is left to rest. These batteries are strong and manage operations without breaks. Conventional charging also maintains the longevity of forklift batteries since they are allowed to cool down before placing them back in the forklift.
How to Select the Right Charger for Forklift Battery?
A battery charging technique will only achieve results with the right type of charger. Here are some things to check when selecting a forklift battery charger.
- Matching Battery and Charger Amp Hours
The battery and charge amp hour (Ah) ratings should match to prevent undercharging. This information is available on the battery information tag.
- Selecting Correct Output Voltages
The charger’s output voltage should equal the battery voltage. Any mismatch could damage the charger and battery. However, some chargers are multi-voltage and compatible with multiple battery types.
- Selecting the Appropriate Input Phase
Single-phase and three-phase power load distributions are the popular inputs for forklift battery chargers. When selecting the right charger, it is essential to check that it matches the phase line of the warehouse.
Also Read: Brief Guide On High-Capacity Forklift Attachments
Maximizing forklift operations starts with understanding how charging systems work. After that, warehouses can determine the best solution to manage battery life. Doing this will directly impact the performance of forklifts and warehouse productivity. Hopefully, this guide answers any questions warehouse managers and forklift drivers might have concerning charging their equipment.