Situation & Challenge

Cold storage applications have particular challenges when it comes to economically powering a fleet of lift trucks. Cold temperatures can distort voltage readings, corrupting how the Battery Discharge Indicator (BDI) — the interchange between the battery and the truck — interprets the state of battery charge. BDI monitoring and recalibration is critical to any operating environment, but it is vitally important in cold storage settings. It is also important to adjust charger settings to compensate for variations in battery voltage caused by extreme temperatures (hot or cold).

In the early 2000s, one cold storage account struggled to efficiently power its fleet in the face of these challenges. The company required over 300 batteries to power 150 trucks, changed batteries randomly and multiple times per shift, and was typically forced to replace the entire battery fleet every two years.

Additionally, huge productivity losses mounted as a fleet of 120 rider pallet jacks were constantly lined up for battery changes. High reach trucks with tall masts that prevented them from traveling to the battery changing room required a portable changer, further escalating cost and productivity issues.

Looking for a solution, the account worked with a conventional battery distributor to increase battery size (in terms of amp hours). Combined with the continued use of old SCR (silicon controlled rectifier) chargers, productivity continued to suffer, and capital for new batteries was required every two years.

When a lift truck dealer invited ABT to meet with the management team at the cold storage account, the account was in the middle of a four-year lease and batteries were already dying.

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Solution

ABT completed a lengthy power study and assessment, delivering a detailed proposal that relied on precise power management. ABT then implemented a two- pronged approach to help the customer through the balance of the lease:

  1. ABT installed multiple high frequency chargers to equalize and extend the operating life of the underperforming batteries.
  2. Batteries deemed unrepairable by the original provider were sent to ABT for rehab and put back into rotation when possible.

With ABT’s help, the customer made it through the balance of its lease using maintenance expense budgets instead of relying on lean capital dollars. Power performance further improved when the customer implemented ABT’s GuaranteedPOWER® program. Under the program, ABT provided high frequency chargers, a full maintenance program, close monitoring and calibration of truck BDI’s, first-in, first out (FIFO) rotation systems in the battery rooms, and full remote monitoring.

Results

Battery size for rider pallet jacks was reduced from 750AH to 475AH, and the number of batteries in the overall system was reduced from over 300 to 215. In terms of dollars, the capital requirement was cut in almost half. Productivity and operational uptime improved at the same time.

After a positive five-year relationship, the cold storage customer renewed its second multi-year contract with ABT. The account has also engaged ABT to manage the power needs of 320 more lift trucks at four sister plants. A total of 470 lift trucks have now been entrusted to ABT’s care by this account.


Download a complimentary PDF copy of this case study, A Two-Pronged Approach to Maximize Efficiency. 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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