The vast warehouse industry in Mexico continues to shift from gas to electric forklifts to reap the economic and environmental benefits associated with electric power. As electric fleets grow more common, warehouse managers must continually ensure that they configure their operations to be as efficient as possible. One of the most important choices when building a fleet of electric lift trucks is deciding between overhead and side-removal extraction for batteries.
Overhead extraction requires that a gantry crane lift the battery vertically from the compartment and lower it on to a charging stand. A side-removal configuration allows battery extractors to slide batteries out along rollers into a cart or charging rack.
While leading manufacturers of electric lift trucks offer both options, there is compelling evidence that side-extraction is a safer and more efficient method of changing batteries.
Time Savings and Safety Benefits of Side-Extraction Vs. Overhead Batteries
Again, overhead extraction requires lifting an approximately 2,000 pound battery out of its compartment with a gantry crane and lowering it on to a charging rack. Using a modern vertical hoist, like the BHS Power Drive Gantry Crane, makes this process safer than it’s ever been, but there is an inherent risk in lifting a heavy piece of equipment overhead for transportation. Gantry cranes can complete an extraction fairly efficiently, but vertical extraction still takes 10-12 minutes with a highly trained employee.
Side-extraction keeps the battery just inches above the ground, which almost completely removes the possibility of the battery falling and sustaining damage or injuring an employee. A BHS Mobile Battery Extractor or Operator Aboard Battery Extractor can easily slide a battery from its compartment in 2-3 minutes.
Crunching the numbers finds that side extractions are on average 4.4 times faster than overhead extractions. Those extra minutes add up, regardless of the size of a fleet. For operations that require 100 battery changes per day, there could be a savings of over 14.17 staff hours per day by switching to side extraction from overhead.
Conclusions on Side-Extraction Forklift Battery Compartments
With these numbers in mind, the industry shift from overhead to side-removal extraction is unsurprising. Some facilities continue to use overhead extraction simply because they always have. Upgrading equipment to have the leanest, most efficient configuration can save a lot of money in the long run. Of course, if a small fleet is already configured for overhead extraction and doesn’t require many battery changes in a day, an upgrade to side removal could be prohibitively expensive.
Both methods of battery extraction have seen improvements in safety. Properly using a gantry crane for vertical extraction provides ergonomic benefits even if the exchange takes approximately 10 more minutes than a side extraction. But in addition to offering a quicker exchange, side-removal extraction reduces the already small chance of injury to almost zero by keeping the battery at a constant and short distance from the ground. In the end, warehouse managers in Mexico and beyond must make the choice based on their specific needs and situation.
“Electric Forklifts Drive Growing Global Market.” MHLNews. Penton, 12 Oct. 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
Lawton, John. “Recharge: manual handling fork lift batteries.” Britsafe. British Safety Council, 23 Oct. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.