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.
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.