Situation & Challenge

A lift truck dealer asked ABT to conduct a power study and operational assessment for their customer, a manufacturer of everyday household items. Although the customer was not experiencing any particular pain in the management and operation of the DC power supporting their lift truck fleet, they were motivated to improve focus on the key drivers of their mission and leave everything else to outside experts.

The customer moved materials and products in their distribution operation with a fleet of more than 20 lift trucks that ran two shifts, five to seven days a week, depending on the season. Each truck required two batteries — one per shift — and used battery swapping to stay powered.

Solution

ABT recommended the customer eliminate battery swapping and move to opportunity charging, where the battery remains in the truck and the operator plugs into a charging source during lunch, on breaks, or between shifts. The benefits of opportunity charging include an increase in productivity by eliminating the time needed to swap batteries, and a dramatic reduction in the number of batteries needed.

The customer was compelled by the assessment, but was also justifiably concerned about a complete shift from 100% battery swapping to 100% opportunity charging.

Working together, ABT and the customer developed a compromise where the customer retained battery swapping on the fleet, but implemented a First In, First Out (FIFO) battery swapping solution. Through the FIFO system, ABT reduced the number of batteries in the fleet for the same number of lift trucks.

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The customer also moved to ABT’s flagship GuaranteedPOWER® solution that covered battery and charger equipment, equipment repairs, battery watering, and battery washing. With GuaranteedPOWER®, ABT promised to handle any flaws in the system at no cost to the customer. When an expansion warranted the addition of 20 more trucks, the customer better understood the merits of opportunity charging and was ready to give opportunity charging a chance.

The customer agreed to a three-year contract under ABT’s GuaranteedPOWER® solution to move the new 20 trucks to opportunity charging. The dual system (battery changing for 20 original trucks and opportunity charging for 20 new trucks) fully supported the DC power needs of Customer J’s operations. Further, ABT’s remote monitoring technologies gave the customer the growing assurance that their operational uptime would always be supported, even in a more precise opportunity/fast charging power system.

Results

After two years of opportunity charging on half the system, Customer J was so pleased with ABT’s approach, that it re-opened the prior contract on the first 20 trucks and converted those into a new opportunity/fast charging contract. This allowed Customer J to eliminate its battery changer altogether before having to invest significant capital in replacing or repairing it. Today, the customer has signed multiple contracts with ABT dating back to 2004, and is still powering its operation with reliable power with no battery swapping.


Download a complimentary PDF copy of this case study, A Path to Zero Battery Changes. If you have any questions about how to find a motive power partner that will help you identify and address potential problems to manage your fleet with efficiency, contact us.

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