Designing Application Based Power Solutions
Designing Application Based Power Solutions
Kevin Demyon Vice President – Industrial Power at East Penn Canada
August 3, 2021
Learn the process that East Penn takes to customize power solutions for specific applications. Read about designing application based power solutions.
No two warehouses operate exactly alike, which is why there cannot be a one-size-fits-all power solution for the material handling industry. Power is expensive and choices made today can have far-reaching implications. Therefore, it’s critically important that the unique needs of each warehouse application are carefully evaluated so that an optimal power solution can be designed and implemented.
Assessing Power Needs Step by Step
A professional battery solutions provider has the prerequisite knowledge and experience to review your existing operation and accurately assess current needs, identify opportunities to improve existing efficiencies and ensure sufficient power bandwidth for anticipated future growth.
Step 1: The first step will typically include a high-level review of the entire operation to ensure the application is fully understood and all needs can be accurately assessed.
Step 2: Next, a 24-hour monitoring device would be installed in the most heavily used trucks for 15-30 days to capture the power consumption of the fleet as well as determining the actual recharge windows based on downtime, breaks and shift changes.
Step 3: Information would then be collected and evaluated against various power solutions to recommend the most flexible and cost-effective solution over the long term, which may include a lead, lithium or hybrid option.
Customized Power Solutions Design Process
The design of individualized power solutions is a complex process that involves careful consideration of multiple factors. Some of these considerations include:
- Days worked and shift structure – how does this affect demand for individual lift trucks and time available for charging and maintenance activities?
- Application demand – what is the average number of lifts, and at what average height and pallet weight?
- Application environment – what is the ambient operating temperature (cold storage application?) and are there any emissions restrictions (food, pharmacy, etc.)?
- Fleet size and facility layout what is the space requirement to accommodate fleet charging stations and maintenance facilities, and where should they be located throughout the warehouse?
- Existing electrical – is it sufficient to accommodate a plannedexpansion, what would be the additional cost to upgrade if required?
Lead Batteries or Lithium Batteries: Which is Best?
The answer to this question is that it depends on the application. The choice between lead or lithium battery technology should be driven primarily by economics and expected ROI, although factors such as maintenance, safety and end-of-life disposal are additional considerations.
Lead VS Lithium Batteries: Price Point VS Longevity
From a purely economic perspective, the initial investment in lead technology is significantly less costly than lithium. However, lithium batteries are expected to last longer (while laboratory testing has produced extremely positive results, more extensive field experience is required before actual life span can be verified) and require less ongoing maintenance.
Lead VS Lithium Batteries: The Key Difference
One key difference between lead and lithium technologies is the need for regular watering of lead batteries. Battery watering requires specially trained personnel to follow a disciplined maintenance schedule to ensure that batteries can continue to operate at peak performance. Fleet size will dictate the level of investment required for battery maintenance activities, which could be substantial for larger operations. However, there are options available to mitigate these costs.
Lead VS Lithium Batteries: Battery Watering & Battery Maintenance
East Penn Canada offers a battery watering service that eliminates the need for specially trained personnel and reduces safety risks associated with handling batteries. In addition, there are products available that allow for reduced watering intervals or, in the case of sealed gel batteries, eliminating the need to add water and providing the added benefit of emissions free operation. With certain multiple shift warehouse applications, the time available to recharge batteries to 100% capacity is limited. Lithium batteries can accept a charge more quickly than lead ones, which means that they can be fully charged and ready to put back into service more quickly than a lead battery in a conventional charge environment. On the other hand, opportunity and fast charging methods can be used to keep a lead battery operating in a partial state of charge so that recharge time is no longer an issue.
The Consensus: The Best Battery Depends on the Application
While lithium technology appears to have a promising future, cost remains a prohibiting factor for most applications. East Penn Canada believes that at the present time, lithium is best suited for heavy use applications where regular power draws exceed 150% of battery capacity and there is limited time available for recharge. This would be a scenario where fast charging a lead battery is no longer feasible or in a multi-shift operation where a battery change system is being considered or needs to be replaced. The cost of operating a battery room is extremely high and a lot of facilities find it challenging to manage it effectively. East Penn Canada offers a full line of lead and lithium batteries for motive power applications. If you would like additional information or if power within your facility is a pain point, please do not hesitate to reach out to me through LinkedIn or by contacting an East Penn location near you.