The conventional way forklift batteries are charged involves 8 hours of use, 8 hours to charge, and 8 hours of rest. Spent batteries are removed from the forklift so they can fully replenish, usually in a separate charging room. As you hook them up to charge, you need to balance water and cooling levels to reduce the risk of acid splash or an electrical spark. And if you need that forklift for another shift, you will need to re-install another fully charged battery.
Warehouses that switch to opportunity charging, however, can charge their forklift batteries on breaks or between shifts. Batteries are charged within the forklift until they are up to 80%-85%. Then at night, the battery is topped-off to 100% and ready to roll in the morning. This charging method works well for multi-shift forklifts, as you won’t need to change batteries out every 8 hours.
But opportunity charging may not be right for every situation, especially because it can shorten your battery’s lifespan. You also may need special charging stations or attachment parts before you can take advantage of an opportunity charge. So how do you know if opportunity charging is right for your Indiana Warehouse?
Traditional charging ensures that there are no surprises in the operation of your forklift batteries. You use each battery for a full 8 hours of work, then remove and charge. The next day you repeat and start with the battery ready to go at 100%. The recharging process just becomes part of the shift day and works like clockwork. Batteries usually last about 5 years, letting you predict a constant replacement schedule.
But the charging process can be dangerous, as you need to balance water levels and cooling times. Issues like acid splash or electrical discharge can result in injury or explosions. Batteries need a place to charge and cool that is separate from the rest of the warehouse, and many operations create an entire battery charging room, which robs them of valuable shelving space. Operators will also need special training to safely perform the charging process.
Also, traditional charging dictates that you start with a full battery each shift. If you have multi-shift forklifts, you’ll need at least one extra battery for each truck. When you run a 24/7 operation, that could result in a lot of batteries that are just sitting around. For instance, if your warehouse uses 50 forklifts per shift, you may need up to 150 batteries to run 3 shifts a day.
Opportunity charging lets a battery be charged inside the forklift for 10-30 minutes at a time. The goal is to give the forklift enough power to finish a shift or make it to the next break. Then the forklift can be charged again for another 10-30 minutes. Charging is fairly simple, especially when the chargers are placed next to break rooms or lunch areas so that trucks can be easily plugged in when not in use.
Because opportunity charging happens within the forklift, you eliminate the need for a separate charging room. You may need a few extra batteries on hand when one completely fails, but those can be kept on a rack or in an equipment supply room. Operators will no longer have to worry about water levels, acid splash, or the problems removing and replacing two-ton batteries. Your batteries still need to be replenished to 100% each night, but this can usually still be done without removing the battery from the forklift.
The choice between opportunity charging and traditional charging can be difficult, especially when you throw in factors like fast charging and lithium-ion batteries in the mix. The experts at Tynan can walk you through all your options and can even assist in fleet management issues for your Indiana Warehouse. Just call (371) 597-4003 and we can help determine what charging method is best for you.
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