Not every forklift user operates a vast fleet of hundreds. In fact, most don’t. A 2010 survey by industry journal DC Velocity found that the bulk of their respondents (57 percent) operated fewer than 25 lift trucks. Only 12 percent regularly used more than 100 trucks.
The same survey uncovered another key statistic: almost 90 percent of the respondents said that their fleets included electric forklifts. When electric vehicles are in your fleet, care and maintenance of batteries becomes a crucial part of your operation. Battery handling equipment that’s up to the task is a must.
For modest fleet-owners, that equipment probably includes a forklift battery carriage. But with so many models on the market, which one should you choose? Here are a few general categories of forklift users, along with recommended carriages for each.
Operators of Small Fleets.
“Small” is a relative term. For our purposes, let’s limit the definition to fleets with 10 trucks or fewer. These lighter users of electric forklifts can get away with fewer automated functions in their battery handling equipment. Something like the BHS Walkie Transfer Carriage (WTC) will keep costs low while also providing safe and efficient battery change-outs.
Many light-duty applications overlook the importance of spare batteries. That’s a costly mistake. Every time you charge a battery that hasn’t been fully expended, you limit the battery’s operational life unnecessarily. Keep one or even two extra batteries per lift truck, no matter how few units you run.
The hazards of operating lift trucks in freezing temperatures are well-known. While cold-storage warehouses usually choose electric lift trucks to eliminate emissions, battery charges can decline by 20 to 50 percent in the cold. Even worse, moving the truck from cold to warm temperatures can create condensation in the delicate electrical systems.
One solution is to bring batteries to the trucks rather than vice-versa. Portable solutions like the Automatic Transfer Carriage (ATC) make this possible. A Dual Transfer Carriage (DTC) is even better for on-the-spot change-outs. With three battery compartments, it can complete two battery changes on a single trip.
Manufacturers, retailers, and other industrial applications with modest material handling needs might get by with only one or two lift trucks. These users won’t have the space or the budget to invest on the most comprehensive battery handling systems. Instead, a single Battery Transfer Carriage is enough to improve safety during all battery handling tasks, while enabling faster change-outs every time. These systems are available in every combination of manual and powered functionality to match every facility’s unique needs.
Fleets with Over 100 Lift Trucks.
Even the largest forklift fleets stand to benefit from battery carriages. Like all industrial equipment, Operator Aboard Battery Extractor Systems require occasional planned maintenance. Plus, during high-volume seasons, an additional battery changer can keep your fleet running at maximum efficiency. The Mobile Battery Extractor (MBE) is a pallet-truck-mounted changer that’s recommended for up to 50 battery changes per day.
Choosing the right equipment for your fleet is crucial to prevent the heavy costs of forklift abuse. According to trade publication Modern Material Handling, forklift abuse includes everything from operator-error to infrastructure problems, such as pitted floors and inadequate battery handling devices. Abuse contributes up to 30 percent of the total maintenance costs for forklift fleets, Modern Material Handling reports. Choosing battery changers that keep your fleet safely on their routes is an important step toward eliminating those unnecessary expenditures.
Bond, Josh. “How lift truck fleet managers can improve efficiencies and reduce costs.” MMH. Peerless Media LLC, 1 May 2012. Web. 29 March 2016.
Cooke, James. “Survey: Forklift fleet management programs still a work in progress.” DCVelocity. Agile Business Media, LLC, 16 Aug. 2010. Web. 29 March 2016.
Rogers, Lorie. “Best practices for managing a cold storage warehouse.” MMH. Peerless Media LLC, 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 29 March 2016.