Up to now an expert skill, battery analysis and regeneration could move directly into the hands of the drivers and operators in the future. An all-in product shows why.
The battery is an expensive part of any electric forklift so it makes sense to take as much care of it as you can. Any downtime caused by a failed battery, or indeed any decreased performance by a still-functioning battery, adds costly penalties in terms of both time and money.
Inconsistent performance and gradual weakness in an unchecked battery is pretty much inevitable, too. It has to be, because the daily operations of charging and using a forklift battery cause lead sulphate to gather on the electrode. This action effectively suffocates the battery over time because the life-giving current is not delivered.
So far, so simple, then: surely you just test and analyse the battery regularly to stay ahead of the game.
Sadly, as forklift operators and drivers around the world know, it’s not as easy as that. Testing the individual cells – at 2V each, there are 24 cells in a 48V battery, for instance – is labour-intensive and slow, while removing sulphation is a separate process. In short, looking after batteries is an unavoidable task that has always required the hands-on attention of battery experts.
Belgium’s TVH says it has changed all that. The forklift and equipment hire specialist says it is making real waves in the battery analysis and regeneration market with a product it developed itself under its Energic Plus battery maintenance and accessory brand. The Energic Replus Battery Regenerator will not only restore sulphated batteries to life, it will also analyse battery performance, enabling operators and drivers to establish which individual cell or cells are causing a battery to malfunction, and correct them accordingly. That matters, Technical Products team leader Lode Baert tells me, because one cell can in some circumstances affect a battery’s performance by up to 50%.
There are two crucial USPs, says Baert. First, the entire analysis and regeneration process is carried out by a single product, simply by hooking the battery up to a machine. The software does its job without the need to take valuable human resource. Second, you don’t need to be a battery expert. The Replus Battery Regenerator is designed to be used by operators without extensive knowledge of batteries. “The machine will guide you,” advises Baert. “Our goal is to make battery maintenance easy.”
In a six-step process, the regeneration kit will discharge, charge and equalise the battery appropriately so that its future condition and effectiveness are assured. It will dissolve hardened sulphate and restore it to active material, using high-frequency wrinkle currents that are very effective in removing the offending chemical deposits. With the added benefit of software that monitors cell performance and allows the operator to configure regeneration setting processes.
From TVH’s perspective as an equipment hire specialist, Lode Baert points out that there are tangible benefits for contractors and contractees, because you can optimise the lifespan for the period of the lease. “If you lease, buy or sell second-hand trucks you have the confidence of knowing that the battery is fully functioning and maintained according to proven standards,” he says.
Launched at CeMAT in 2011 and now boasting a full-time global sales team of five people, the Replus Battery Regenerator has hit the spot, enthuses Baert. “One of the top five global OEMS has bought 40,” he confides, “while a European hire specialist has taken 60 units.”
More info on the Battery Regenerator
Source: Logistics Business Magazine (September 2017)