Focus On: Batteries and MaintenanceOctober 28, 2022
Industrial Truck Service wins again!May 25, 2023
Welcome to March people! A new year brings news in abundance and we've decided to start with an announcement that's been in the works for a while (and is a bit of a follow up to our last Focus on article).
Industrial Truck Service is proud to announce our new Battery Service offering!
In partnership with Crown's V-Force line of batteries, chargers, and accessories Industrial Truck Service is going to provide a larger offering of battery service, sales, maintenance and V-Force warranty work. Our trained technicians will be able to look after your batteries to keep them running in the best possible condition given your uses and, when it comes to Crown batteries and chargers, will be able to draw on a global network of tools and experts to provide you with world class motive power service.
Introducing Crown V-Force motive power options
Crown has been putting a lot of time and effort into putting together a powerhouse motive power system for material handling customers and that work has paid off in spades. Providing both lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries, chargers, and accessories to customers the V-Force line is focused on providing a total package of support to our customers.
- Smart Chargers - programmable, scalable chargers provide right sized power options that fit the needs of your business.
- Lithium-ion Batteries - if you need higher efficiency and longer run times with opportunity charging, lithium-ion might be the right fit for you!
- Lead-acid Batteries - a proven workhorse in material handling uses provides dependability, economy, and reliability to your fleet.
- Battery and Charger accessories - from charger stands to watering systems, cables to connectors, blinkies to BMID: all can help you manage your batteries batter.
V-Force chargers have been built from the ground up by Crown to serve as a link in the chain that is motive power. Made to take a lot of the headaches out of charging batteries even the smallest of these units boasts a suite of options that can be programmed on site by one of our trained service technicians. With hundreds of pre-loaded charge profiles they can be rapidly set up to handle different batteries of different voltages, be they conventional, fast, or opportunity charge type lead-acid batteries. Lithium-ion gets a special call out as the charger needs to be spec'd from the factory for that use.
Together with this flexibility is expandability, which allows you to future proof your operations somewhat. These V-HFM3 chargers operate with a "module slot" system, allowing only two cabinet sizes to accommodate a huge variety of battery charge capacities. The humble FS3 charger in the smallest version holds a single charge module inside it, capable of outputting 100 amps of DC current at 24V. This little charger that could would be suitable for small powered jacks as an example. The FS3 cabinet however can hold as many as 3 modules though, allowing it to pump out up to 300 amps of DC power at 24V. The same charger could instead be set up for 36, 48, 72, 80, or 96V charging through! At the top end the power drops down to 127 amps at 96V, but this is basically six chargers in one.
And the FS3 is the baby of the line. The larger versions hold more powerful modules and more of them. Up to six of them, topping out at 600 amps at 24V or 255 amps at 96V. All with the same flexibility of programming. Needless to say: V-Force has a charger that will fit your needs, and Industrial Truck Service will be there to help you with service and warranty work.
Need fast power? Lithium delivers!
Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere. Odds are good you have one in your pocket or are reading this on a device powered by one. Nearly everyone has experienced their phone complaining about a low battery and after plugging it in for 10-15 minutes checked back to find it much happier and in the green. That's the real power of lithium-ion batteries. Multiple shift environments can get away with a smaller lithium-ion battery than a traditional fast or opportunity charge lead-acid because of this characteristic. What's more is this kind of charging doesn't shorten the lifespan of the battery (unlike the 2-3 year lifespans of a fast/opportunity lead-acid battery)!
Lithium-ion isn't the answer for everyone though. We want to be clear on that; Crown and V-Force want to be clear on that. One of their biggest tips for selling them is stressing how important running a power study is (we hook a study-tester up to you average battery and run it for a couple of weeks to get the data, then send it back to V-Force so they can really drill down and together figure out what you need). For example: If you want to put one of these in a WP 3200 and then have it ride around in the back of a refrigerated truck you absolutely need to be able to plug it in while it rides, otherwise the battery will drain itself flat in 18 hours just keeping warm. This might not work for you, but knowing this kind of thing is why our Sales Team want to work with you to understand your operations.
That being said: Lithium-ion is amazing for other uses! Maybe you're running three shifts, 24/7/365 operations. Traditionally every truck would need up to 3 batteries like we talked about before. 8 hours of use, 8 hours on charge, 8 hours cooldown. You could get away with fewer batteries if you move to fast or opportunity charge batteries, but then you're dealing with having to replace them every 2-3 years (and all those purchase/disposal costs). Lithium-ion though can work with a lower capacity battery and more frequent charges with ease. Chargers near the break room (because you don't have to worry about off-gassing or explosion risks) and now every battery is getting topped up 3 times a shift. Never to full, but it doesn't need to be full; it needs enough to get to the next break.
The change can mean some rethinking and retraining, but if you're in a situation where you need that instant power lithium-ion can change your world. Just like with the chargers, our trained technicians can service your equipment with full warranty.
You know it, you love it: Lead-acid batteries
If you've been in the material handling world for more than about 30 seconds odds are good you've seen, worked on/with, or at least talked about a battery. Equally good odds are that is was a lead-acid battery, in use since their invention in 1859. Time tested, simple, and heavy: they work and if you take care of them can last for years and years. For most applications lead-acid will continue to be the standard, as their simplicity and widespread use means that most customers already have the systems in place to deal with them (ventilation, battery rooms, changing stations, etc.).
They have their limits though: that 8/8/8 charge cycle is one. If you try to fiddle with this much, it can dramatically decrease the usable life of the battery at best, and at worst can damage it or endanger users. Another problem stems from the fact that it is a big box of acid and lead; spills, boil overs, out-gassing during charge, and just exposure all mean that users need more special training when interacting with them. Even just the need for ventilation and gas containment/venting means that where you charge them can be limited. They work though. They're simple and reliable and they work. They even mean smaller machines because you don't need as much counterweight in a battery unit: the battery becomes part of the counterweight.
V-Force can help with many of those shortcomings. Smart chargers like the V-HFM3 series can tailor your charge cycles to be just right for a battery. With the right accessories they can even automatically water and equalize your batteries. Little upgrades like a BMID (Battery Monitoring Identification Device) can even store their own charge profile and tell the charger exactly what they need, and connect to systems like Crown's Infolink to create reports on state of charge, usage, and battery health. Even just a simple Watering System can help keep your team safe and your batteries functioning well by reducing the need for maintenance.
At Industrial Truck Service we're here to help you navigate all these choices. Building and supporting these systems for our customers is part of our everyday business, and this expansion of our services in partnership with Crown will only extend the reach and scale of the support we can deliver to you through our trained technicians and support network.
Pogos, Retractors and Stands, oh my!
Accessories for chargers are a little like the options on your car. For someone else it might be a "nice to have" option, but for you it might be a "must have!"
There are a lot of options too, so we're only going to touch on a few of those we think have the widest use. The following are all pictured to the left here.
- Charger stands: Because forklifts are heavy and tend to crunch plastic housings. Charger stands come in a variety of sizes and configurations, but the goal is to keep the expensive charger away from anything that might make it go squish. Depending on which chargers and the options for the stand you choose, there can be from 1-6 chargers on a single stand (the 6 count is only FS3 chargers though).
- Rail stops: related to the crunch factor above, rail stops (the orange "V-Force" plate to the bottom of the image) and parking blocks are intended to keep the forklift from knocking down the charging stands by giving some significant feedback to the driver if they get too close. The plate is available here in Canada, but the recycled rubber one from Crown isn't (there are similar options available locally however).
- Cable retractors: if you've got chargers, odds are good you've replaced the coloured connector ends because of rough handling, getting dropped, or someone leaving it on the floor to get driven over. Cable retractors and battery pogos (not pictured) make this a thing of the past! Attached to the charger stand or other nearby structures, retractors and pogos simply lift the cable back up and out of the way when not in use. Because of the expense of the lithium-ion cables these are extra important because it saves on avoidable costs to replace parts damaged by negligence.
- Cable assemblies: this charger is also equipped with a charge cable assembly direct from the factory. These assemblies are made to V-Force's specs and ensure that the right gauge of cable and connectors is used for your charger and battery. In many cases these will also feature sheaths or roving, zip ties, and heat-shrink to help keep the cable together, intact, and resistant to damage.
BMIDs, Blinkies, and watering
Accessories for batteries are a little less "nice to have" options than the charger accessories. A lot of them have a direct impact on the life of your battery as they help let you know when something needs checking or fixing. To the right we have a battery with three different upgrades built onto it, and each one helps you know how healthy your battery is.
- BMID: as mentioned before, the BMID stands for Battery Monitoring Identification Device (in the picture it's the little black box toward the upper left of the battery, with a cable that leads over the the power cables and loops a sensor around them). Basically it becomes the battery's brain, remembering what has been done to the battery (charge cycle times, amounts, equalization charges, power and usage levels, etc.) and it communicates with V-Force chargers (if they're set for it) to tell the charger exactly what profile to use to charge it. If you also have Infolink running at your location, the BMID, truck, and charger can all communicate with it directly, letting you drill down to even individual user's power consumption patterns (because we all know that one person with a lead foot). Because the BMID works so closely with the charger you can be sure that your battery is getting the right charge every time.
- Blinky lights: there are different kinds of Blinky (the brand which V-Force uses), but ultimately they all serve to tell you if a battery needs watering. With a probe inserted into a battery cell to monitor the electrolyte levels, these devices use a blinking light to communicate watering needs. In the picture the Blinky is the little round white thing in the middle of the battery in among the cables.
- Watering system: this battery has been fitted with the V-Force Float Assembly and tubing (one of the two V-Force types they provide). Snaking between the cells and from float to float is the tubing which carries the water from the fill port (the little white/grey tube at the right side of the battery). One of the biggest perks to watering systems is that it lets you water the battery without having to remove it from the unit and saves a ton of time over checking and filling each cell one at a time. The floats automatically cut off the flow to each cell as it fills, and can saves hours a week on larger fleets. Watering batteries this way is also much safer for your team members, as they aren't exposed to any battery acids as they work.
- Having a watering system is not a substitute for regular service however! Sometimes floats break or get gummed up (they are sitting in acid after all), tubes can get clogged with deposits or sediment, and it pays off to periodically pull the floats and check them with a human eye and flashlight. This is where our technicians come in with the skills, training, and experience to effectively and efficiently service your batteries.
A lot of today's news focused on expanding on some of the things we've talked about in past articles on batteries and motive power, along with introducing some of the new options from Crown's V-Force lineup. Here at Industrial Truck Service we're all excited by the opportunities we have with bringing you this world class product, and especially so about our ability to be a full service provider when it comes to motive power. Service, warranty work, sales, and after-sales support are a cornerstone of our business and being able to stand by a product like this just gives us another way to demonstrate that we deserve the trust you give us with looking after your equipment.
So that's where we sign off for today, ready to drive into the future with you our customers. As always if you have any questions or comments you can Get In Contact with us for more details.