There are a variety of ways to design a battery system. The best one is always going to offer a measurement component, which often requires the latest technology. In the long run, this approach is worth it. We believe collecting data—on how your batteries are being charged, watered, rotated, equalized, etc.—is the only way to ensure the most effective overall motive power solution.
Assuming you're able to measure and manage your operation, now you can start looking at different set-ups. A good solution should always be customized specifically for your needs. However, today we'll focus on three designs that many of our customers employ:
Zero Battery Change System
This is the ideal. While it won't work for everyone, for some forklift operations it's a possibility. With operators opportunity-charging during breaks and lunches, then recharging overnight, the need to change batteries during shifts can be eliminated. Over time, this approach can extend battery life due to charging efficiency—and reduce safety hazards due to zero battery changes. Not to belabor the point, but for this to work, you must have that measurement tool in place—that's what allows you to monitor battery usage/maintenance and hold operators accountable.
Battery Rotation Management System
If your operation has three shifts with extreme usage, a zero battery change system probably won't work. In these applications, an average forklift might need to rotate batteries three or more times per day. Your facility and industry can also dictate your system: space requirements or environmental concerns (like for the food service industry) can hinder you from placing chargers throughout a facility, so you'll need to have the right quantity of batteries, and then manage the battery rotation as they're changed out during the work shifts. Ultimately the goal is still to create the fewest changes possible, then ensure that power is evenly dispersed throughout the fleet. That way, over time, the life of your equipment can reach its maximum potential.
Hybrid Battery System
"Hybrid" is a term we use internally. This kind of system works well for operations that demand a lot from their forklifts. If you're hard on forklifts, battery changes are inevitable. In some cases, companies are changing out batteries three to four times a day. To avoid this, we can place opportunity or fast chargers throughout the facility, reducing how often you change batteries, potentially every two or three days instead of multiple times a day. This kind of rotation system allows your batteries to rest and cool properly, which means they'll last longer, and you'll need fewer. This affects uptime, too: now operators aren't excessively running to the battery room to swap out batteries.
What Motive Power System Would Work Best for You?
These systems can be configured different ways to fit a variety of operations. Just from reading about these three, you can see that many factors go into determining what creates the most efficient system for a company. In many ways, every system we design is entirely unique, with a specific set of forklifts and chargers, and a rotation system to ensure they work well now and last as far into the future as possible. You and your motive power systems provider should be able to determine which system will fit your operation, and then you can plug in the right management software to make sure it continues to hum along efficiently.