Being in a warehouse, and running forklifts through multiple shifts a day can be an extremely taxing job. You need to take time to charge and let them cool down, which in busy operations can be difficult. Now, with the emergence of lithium-ion batteries, opportunity charging is becoming more popular. But what is it?
What is Opportunity Charging?
Opportunity charging is available for forklifts with lithium-ion batteries and lead-acid batteries but is much better suited for LiB. With this method, the batteries can stay in the truck for multiple shifts while being charged. It also takes advantage of breaks to charge the forklift. This means, when your employees are on lunch, taking a break, or switching shifts, the forklift can be plugged in and charged. When the operator returns, the forklift will have enough juice until the next charging opportunity.
While opportunity charging is an option for lead-acid batteries, it can have some negative side effects, such as shortened battery life, and increased maintenance requirements. Additionally, opportunity charging a lead-acid battery can create a “surface charge” which may show on the indicators as a full or almost full charge, while in reality, the battery is not actually charged to that capacity and therefore, the battery indicator will show that the battery is discharging very rapidly. Many of our customers who contact our service department for a battery that doesn’t hold a charge ultimately discover that their employees were only putting a “surface charge” on a battery during short breaks, which is why the battery seems to lose charge quickly. Once they start properly charging a cool battery for the full charge and allowing the battery to cool down before utilizing it, then the battery doesn’t have issues holding a charge.
With lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, opportunity charging can actually extend the overall life, and there is no need for increased battery maintenance.
For this reason, at Williams Toyota Lift, we suggest speaking to one of our battery experts about whether or not opportunity charging will be beneficial for your battery and your application.
What type of Warehouses Utilize Opportunity Charging?
While opportunity charging is best used for multi-shift warehouses, you can schedule a warehouse consultation with our Warehouse Products Specialist to see if it would be beneficial for your business. Generally speaking, in a single shift cycle, you have plenty of time to allow the forklifts to charge when the shift is over, so there is not as much need to opportunity charge. In a multi-shift cycle, you don’t have the benefit of time, so opportunity charging can be extremely helpful in reducing downtime.
Considerations for Opportunity Charging
Now that you know the basics of opportunity charging, you might be open to the idea. But before you can move any further, make sure you take these things into consideration:
- Will my operation benefit from opportunity charging?
- As mentioned above, opportunity charging is typically for multi-shift operations. See how much time passes between each shift break or during breaks for meals, and if you find that some forklifts have downtime while you wait for them to charge, opportunity charging may be beneficial.
- What kind of charging stations do I need for opportunity charging?
- Opportunity charging does require a specific charging station, so you won’t be able to use the same charging station as you used for your lead-acid batteries. This is an initial investment that your company will need to consider before they make a decision.
- Who can I contact to learn more about opportunity charging at my facility?
- At Williams Toyota Lift, our Warehouse Product Specialist knows the ins-and-outs of running an efficient and effective warehouse, and our Territory Managers are highly trained on battery functions and operations. If you’re thinking about changing to lithium-ion batteries and/or instituting opportunity charging into your facility, contact your Territory Manager or our Warehouse Product Specialist. They will be able to help you understand if your business needs to make a change, as well as the proper location and process for when the changes are made.
Keep in mind, opportunity charging won’t work for every operation. Make sure you take the time to research and talk to the experts at Williams Toyota Lift. When used correctly, opportunity charging can reduce downtime and keep your operation moving.