Crown Equipment Helps SaltWorks® Maximize Lift Truck and Battery Utilization

forklift battery optimization

Source: Crown

Saltworks takes advantage of Crown V-Force® chargers and InfoLink® fleet and operator management to optimize forklift battery utilization

SaltWorks®, the largest gourmet sea salt manufacturer in the world, needed a solution that would enable them to maximize the return on investment of their new electric forklift fleet. Crown Equipment, one of the world’s largest material handling companies, helped the company better understand and manage the utilization of its fleet and batteries.

SaltWorks imports sea salt from 25 different countries, processes it into more than 110 varieties and redistributes the product globally. The company, which handles about 200,000 to 250,000 pounds of salt per day, originally relied on a fleet of used LPG internal combustion forklifts. After experiencing frequent unexpected downtime due to poor reliability, the company purchased a new electric fleet of Crown application-specific forklifts, including sit-down counterbalance trucks, stackers and pallet trucks. They also invested in a bank of Crown’s V-Force® chargers to provide the versatility they needed to charge every forklift in their fleet.

The company also outfitted each forklift with Crown’s InfoLink® fleet and operator management to help ensure operational efficiency with the new electric fleet. They used the system to control operator access, improve compliance documentation and monitor truck utilization, capturing fleet utilization data in real time. This enabled SaltWorks to know exactly when and how the trucks were being used to identify opportunities for efficiency gains. Crown’s Battery Health Monitor was also added to remotely monitor battery utilization and health, and help the company perform load balancing to maximize the fleet’s battery efficiency.

“The performance of our forklifts is key to the performance of our business,” said Colin McLane, SaltWorks engineering manager. “Being able to monitor the charge of each forklift independently allows us to balance the load. That way, if we notice one truck is performing in a very high duty role, we can switch that truck out for one that’s been used in a lighter duty role to maximize battery efficiency.”

To find out more, visit the Crown website.

Practical Installation Tips That Will Maximize the Lifespan of Your Vehicle Mount Computers

Inappropriately installed vehicle mount terminals (VMTs) stand the risk of impaired usability and will in worst case suffer early product failure. By learning from the following tips before deployment, you can avoid the biggest pitfalls and thus maximize the return of investment for your equipment.

Even though rugged computers are built to withstand both vibration and shock, which are by far the most stringent compliance requirements and indispensable in the transportation sector, there is still a risk of damages when the equipment is installed in forklifts or other vehicles, as the engine, tires, gears and motor simultaneously create different frequencies and amplitudes of vibration, also referred to as random vibration. The vibrations and shock levels generated by a warehouse truck depend on truck type, driving speed, floor condition and the type of wheels used; this means that the operating conditions that affect the reliability of computers installed in warehousing vehicles will always be unique, and could even vary within the same site. Appropriate installation can eliminate the effects of excessive shock and vibration in extreme environments and is the key to avoid computer failure.

Lower placement reduces shock and improves user ergonomics

As users drive over debris, stones or cracks in the floor, the truck slightly tilts sideways. The higher up on the forklift or vehicle the computer is placed, the higher the shock level from the sideway tilting gets. This means that in reach stackers, order pickers and other tall trucks where the VMTs are mounted hanging from the roof, there is a higher risk of inducing severe shock levels to the VMTs, leading to effects such as poor screen readability and fatigue-related damages and consequently to poor usability and, in some cases, early product failure. Thus, mounting the unit as low as possible in the driver’s cabin minimizes the level of induced shock, thereby increasing reliability.

Additionally, mounting the VMT at a lower point, for instance at the user’s waist height instead of over his head, is advantageous also from an ergonomic point of view – shorter reaching distance provides a comfortable and safe user environment, hence improving the user experience.

Rigid mounts increase steadiness

Where a unit is placed in the vehicle is not the only thing that affects its exposure to shock; what it is mounted to also has significant consequences. Using metal plates and long beams can cause unwanted amplification. To avoid this, the computers should be mounted on the sturdiest part of the vehicle and with appropriate mounting equipment. Rigid and stiff mounts help to reduce the risk of resonance in the installation which is usually the cause of costly vibration-related fatigue failures of parts and components.

Ensuring that the mounting equipment used is tightly installed, and that the parts are stiff and as short as possible, will further reduce the risk of vibration and shock amplification.

Vibration and shock dampers improve user experience

The use of custom-designed vibration and shock dampers together with the VMTs can reduce and in less severe cases eliminate most of the user-experienced effects from vibration, such as poor screen readability. However, dampers come in many forms and materials and it is critical to use a type that suits your specific environment, otherwise the dampers will not have the intended effect and can in the worst case even amplify the vibration.

First of all, for the dampers to be effective they shouldn’t have a resonance frequency that matches any of the vibrational frequencies created by the installation itself. This can be controlled by measuring the vibrational frequencies generated in the vehicle and decide on which dampers to use based on this information.

Second, it is important that the dampers are appropriately dimensioned and are made of a suitable material for the vibration isolation to be successful. The materials used for dampers come with different characteristics. A typical material used in passive vibration damping is natural or synthetic rubber. Natural rubber is usually preferable in environments where the temperature varies as it has a good damping coefficient in both low and elevated temperatures. Synthetic rubber compounds, such as silicone rubber, are often preferable when the vehicle is being exposed to direct sunlight as they provide better resistance to UV compared to natural rubber. However, synthetic rubber has the downside of low fatigue resistance and is in most cases a more expensive option than natural rubber. The geometrical dimensions of the dampers determine how well they absorb the shock and vibration energy, therefore the diameter and length need to be adjusted to suit the specific use case.

Air-filled tires with large diameters create less vibration and shock

The material and the diameter of the wheels used for the designated vehicle directly impacts the vibration and shock levels created by each wheel. Air-filled tires naturally have a higher damping factor as compared to solid plastic wheels which transmit almost all the vibrations and shocks to the truck and further to the VMTs. When it comes to the wheel diameter, a smaller diameter translates to a larger vertical displacement as the truck drives over cracks in the floor, a cause for increased shock levels. Consequently, considering the type of wheels used on the warehousing vehicles will also impact the durability of the installed VMTs. Selecting air-filled tires over solid plastic wheels and going for the biggest suitable diameter will have a positive impact on the lifespan of the computer. In unavoidable circumstances where trucks with solid plastic wheels are in use, it is even more important to follow the above listed installation tips to keep vibration and shock to a minimum.

Other factors impacting the lifespan of VMTs in logistic operation

Overall, a well-maintained warehouse floor, clear of debris and obstacles is beneficial not only to the equipment but also to the health of the drivers who often complain of joint pain in the knees as a result of excessive shock – especially in the case of trucks with solid plastic wheels where drivers stand throughout their work-shift.

Last but not least, let’s not forget that the impact force generated by the truck as it’s driven over cracks and obstacles is directly proportional to the driving speed. Therefore, driving at the recommended speed not only contributes to a safer work environment but also improved usability and longer-lasting equipment.

 

Author: Mahmud Nurein, Product Developer, JLT Mobile Computers

Latest ProGMA Video Highlights Loading Dock Hazards: 42% of Forklift Accidents Involve Workers Getting Pinned by Tipping Vehicles

 

The Protective Guarding Manufacturers Association (ProGMA), a product group within trade association Material Handling Industry (MHI), is promoting the third in a series of educational videos about preventing accidents and injuries at loading docks. The videos can be seen at mhi.org/progma/videos.

Following ‘Essential Safety Barriers for Automated / Robotic Workcells’ and ‘Proper Safeguarding for Elevated Work Platforms’, the latest video titled, ‘Prevent Accidents and Injuries Near Loading Docks / Doors’, focuses on the busiest and most dangerous area of a facility. The 2:05min-long video provides a visual interpretation of a busy, working loading dock, highlighting the inherent hazards involved with the fast-moving environment.

Ray Niemeyer, chairman of ProGMA and director of business development at SpaceGuard Products, said: “The loading dock is the most active area of any facility; if a company isn’t shipping and receiving product, it isn’t making money. It is here where personnel either on foot or riding powered operated equipment can find themselves in dangerous situations, unless proper protective guarding and safety equipment are installed. Buildings and product can also be damaged.”

The video starts with an alarming statistic that 42% of forklift accidents involve workers getting pinned by vehicles tipping over. It also states that a single forklift accident can lead to $100,000+ in related costs. The animation goes on to address the potential for employees, products, or moving equipment to fall off the dock at an unprotected door. ProGMA members offer safety gates, mesh door netting, bumpers, bollards, guardrails, truck wheel guides, truck driver cages, and other products that keep personnel and product safe, directly contributing to a company’s bottom line.

ProGMA hopes floor managers, health and safety managers, upper management, and shift workers will gain knowledge through the visual content. In just over two minutes, the video successfully walks target audiences through the entire loading dock environment, from outside spaces where larger trucks maneuver in tight areas, to the bustling aisles and traffic ways of a typical high-traveled loading dock-and everything in between.

Niemeyer said: “The causes, severity, and types of potential accident are varied. Worker safety and protective guarding equipment should not be seen as a cost but an investment that not only ensures people go home to their families at night but also reduces cost in the yearly maintenance budget, particularly when it is designed into a facility from the outset. Be mindful that management and co-workers are left to deal with the immediate and long-term impact of a lost time accident, whilst hoping that the injured employee can return to health and their position of employment.”

There are many different types of loading dock across the U.S., depending on the kind of business activity and a building’s operational function. There may be 200 loading docks at a single site, for example. Warehousing and distribution sites will have a higher percentage of loading docks on multiple sides of a building, while a manufacturing facility might have fewer docks with a greater spread across a site to facilitate in and outbound shipments.

Niemeyer concluded: “The videos are being well received by industry employees, managers, health and safety personnel, and insurance companies. They provide a real life overview of the various areas of a company’s operation, inside and out, where guarding and protective barriers should be considered for protecting employees and the building from costly accidents and facility damage.”

The latest video can be seen at <a href=”http://mhi.org/progma/videos” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>mhi.org/progma/videos</a>.

 

Forklift rental? Choosing the best forklift financing option

Is forklift rental, lease or purchase right for you?

Forklifts and other materials handling equipment can be purchased with a number of repayment options, rented on a short-term basis from 90 days to 12 months, leased over several years, or purchased through your dealer, according to Alex Teager, Yale Financial Services Manager.

The advantages and disadvantages of each option are complex and are often dependent on a range of factors such as the organization’s policies, practices and the size of the operation. This is why Yale would recommend seeking professional advice, notes Teager. Information on the types of products, the working environment and quantity of vehicles ordered are taken into consideration when the financial services organization prepares the quotation.


Also read: Forklift Lease or Buy – What’s Best for Your Business?


 Material handling equipment acquisition is a big decision: get the right advice

“The acquisition method for materials handling equipment can be a big decision for any business,” Teager says. “Customers often focus on the build quality and features of products, whereas here at Yale we would encourage them to also look at the wider picture. The tailored support of the Yale® dealer can be invaluable in ensuring that the whole package is right for their particular application and situation, including how the vehicle or fleet is financed.”

“At Yale, initial consultations are carried out by Yale dealers with the team at Yale Financial Services, in conjunction with our financial partners, providing professional support and assistance from the beginning to the end of the leasing lifecycle. Yale is committed to the long-term support of its customers and with its extensive lift truck expertise offers financing solutions for new and used trucks to suit budget requirements via a range of tailored plans.”

Most lease agreements range between two and seven years in length, with a five-year contract being the most frequently selected. Repayment schedules and types of contract are flexible, meaning that the dealer can work with their customers to devise the most appropriate product selection and payment schedule for their specific needs. The finance solutions offered may include customised rental profiles in support of a customer’s cash flow requirements or inclusive rental and maintenance packages.

This determination to find the best available solution was a positive for José Manuel, from Hispania de Manutención in Spain. He said: “I have this deep appreciation for the hard work that Yale Financial Services and their finance partner DLL have been doing. Their commercial focus and energy are the key differentiators when it comes to their structuring of complex solutions and ability to distinguish themselves in a competitive marketplace.”

Look for a comprehensive range of options

Yale customers expect a comprehensive range of products and services. The financial services package and securing project financing through Yale Financial Services was a key consideration for Yale CZ in concluding a long-term contract with Skylog s.r.o., to supply materials handling equipment, rack equipment and other equipment within the warehouse operation. As Mr. Krejci from Skylog said: “One of the key factors in the final decision to conclude a contract with Yale CZ was the offer of financial services that respected our specific requirements. Effective and efficient negotiations with the representative of UniCredit, the partner of Yale Financial Services for the Czech Republic was of real benefit.”

Yale and its dealers remain on hand throughout the tenure of the agreement to provide repair and maintenance work for its products, meaning that customers can rest assured that they can receive professional and reliable servicing for the duration of their contract.

For more information on Yale Financial Services please visit www.yale.com.

Hyster Trucks Overcome Tough Tests at Sand-lime Brick Factory

From large quantities of dust to extreme temperature variations, Hyster® forklift trucks help overcome the tough conditions at Radmacher Kalksandsteine, a sand-lime brick production plant in Wendeburg, Germany.

The family business has been producing sand-lime bricks using only sand, quicklime and water since 1963. The blocks are hardened in 15-bar pressure autoclaves where more than 60 employees ensure continuous production in a three-shift, around the clock operation. Due to the demands of the application, including a climate that varies from -15°C in Winter to more than 30°C in Summer, the business tested various forklifts thoroughly before selecting new trucks.

“No stone is moved without a Hyster® forklift”

The sand-lime bricks are manufactured in standard sizes as well as in varying dimensions dependent on customer requirements and specific building plans. Hyster® trucks ensure a continuous, reliable process, from production to storage of the blocks.

“No stone is moved without a Hyster® forklift,” says Christian Baars, Production Manager at the plant, who is especially pleased with two new Hyster® H13XM-6 heavy-duty forklift trucks. These trucks, with a lifting capacity of 13-tonnes and a load center of 600mm, were acquired after testing several different trucks from well-known manufacturers.

Hyster® trucks handle slopes easily

While all trucks tested performed well when unloading trolleys and equipping saws, one competitor was unable to deliver the required performance working on the ramp. The heavy forklifts, fully loaded with sand-lime bricks, have to manage a short ramp with a grade of approximately 12 percent. Although some competitor trucks with strong engines managed the ramp, they consumed significantly more fuel than the Hyster® H13XM-6, which is equipped with a powerful six-cylinder Cummins QSB 6.7 litre engine.

“The engine power was not the only deciding factor though,” says Hyster Dealer Torsten Franke, Managing Director of GS-Gabelstapler Service, in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. “The truck has to be a good overall fit, from the 3-speed ZF hydrodynamic transmission to the transmission ratio.”

High performance with lower fuel consumption

“For us, the high-power reserves and low fuel consumption of the Hyster® H13XM-6 were key,” says Christian Baars. “After all the testing, we put the first forklift into use in our sand-lime brick factory in Uslar, and then ordered another 13-tonne truck, with an S + H stone clamp, to use at the Wendeburg plant.”

The state-of-the-art heavy-duty trucks, which comply with Stage IV / Tier 4 final requirements, consume around 20 percent less fuel compared to their predecessors.

Good all-round visibility is delivered by the ergonomic Hyster® cab, and further enhanced by the VISTA® mast with external chains and three, instead of four, hydraulic lines. The noise level has also been reduced, enabling the driver to concentrate during the shift.

Additionally, the wide chassis and wide drive axle ensure maximum lateral stability when using attachments.

Persuaded by the Cool Truck at Hyster® HUB

The business connection between GS Gabelstapler Service and Radmacher Kalksandsteine has developed over 30 years, with the Hyster® dealer offering advice, fast service and relevant solutions. For example, at the Hyster® HUB in Weeze, Germany, Baars was able to learn first-hand about the latest technologies, such as the Hyster® “Cool Truck”.

Based on the H4.0-5.5FT product range, Hyster has developed the Cool Truck especially for use in the dusty conditions found in the paper and recycling industry. The Cool Truck has numerous functions and adaptations to prevent the common problem of the motor overheating due to dust deposits. Hyster® heavy-duty forklift trucks, such as the 13-tonne truck at the stone works, are also designed for use in the toughest operating conditions.

Protection against dust and variable temperatures

To avoid the problems caused by dust, there is an option to extend the air inlet of the pre-filter. This reduces the amount of polluted air that is sucked in when the standard pre-filter is no longer sufficient. An automatic lubrication function can also be installed to keep dirt out.

Drivers also benefit from the Hyster® VISTA Cabin which features an easy-to-clean air filter.

Temperature fluctuations pose no problem for Hyster® forklift trucks as they leave the factory in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, ready to withstand operation at temperatures from -18°C to 50°C.

Hyster® forklifts provide up to 3,500 operating hours per year

Four Hyster® H3.0FT Fortens ICE forklift trucks are used by Radmacher Kalksandsteine to their maximum performance, reaching up to 3,500 operating hours per year. The trucks are primarily used to transport the sand-lime blocks around the site.

Equipped with Superelastic tires and the maintenance-free Hyster® Stability Mechanism (HSM), which improves side stability, the rugged Hyster® Fortens forklifts support the heavy demands of the operation.

Set to the ECO-eLO fuel efficiency mode, these are among the most fuel-efficient forklift trucks available, another deciding factor for Christian Baars.

Visit www.hyster.eu for more information.

New Warehouse Design Book Offers Insights on Pallet Racking , MHE Selection and More

How to Configure and Equip Your Warehouse: Pallet racking, industrial shelving, MHE and more are covered in a practical warehouse design “due diligence primer.”

Warehouse design practical tips offered in new bookWhen two recently retired MHE professionals connected at a social function a few years ago, little did they realize that their enduring passion for the industry would quickly catapult them into a year-long project.  Soon-to-be authors Keith MacDonald and John Binns believed they had a lot to offer emerging and current generations of warehousing professionals. Their discussion turned to the need for a self-help book about warehouse material handling systems and layouts.*

Ongoing changes and new equipment capabilities had transpired over the course of their careers and continued to be added.  These have important implications for warehouse design. For instance, rack spacing has progressed from “wide” aisles to narrow aisles and then to very narrow aisles. The tremendous increase in storage height is another example as is the awareness of the effects of building column spacing.

Authors Look to Fill a Void in Warehouse Design Information

MacDonald and Binns reasoned that warehousing professionals not involved with deciding storage and handling methods on a day-to-day basis could not be expected to be aware of all the choices available or have the know-how for the needed decisions. Warehouse decision makers are often too busy in operating their existing warehouses to keep up to date on new possibilities. While large multinational companies often have warehouse design expertise, they recognized that for many independent warehouses, there is a serious knowledge gap.

A review of available books on the warehousing topic by the authors confirmed their belief that industry professionals needed better information about warehouse design, including configuration and equipment selection. They found existing titles to be strongly skewed toward efficiently operating the facility. And although operational efficiency is critical, it is much more difficult to achieve in the absence of first understanding how to select and dimension the storage and retrieval systems which will best position the warehouse for success. Without such attention to warehouse design in the early stages, the chances of achieving the expected operating results are greatly reduced.

Further, they also recognized that the ability to select correct equipment was, in itself, not sufficient for a trouble-free installation and operation.  The hands-on learning of pitfalls and dimensioning of various types of equipment and aisle widths, which are combined to form a system, is a must. The fact that the two had been involved with many different types of equipment supplied by a large variety of manufacturers allowed them to bring this broad perspective to the discussion.

They decided that the book would have to be easy for all to follow and become a communications tool as complexity increased.  Most importantly the project manager would have to feel comfortable in using it and have others use it; to be literally “all on the same page” in their understandings of any situation. This must include the progression from “what systems to use” through “how best to use them” and on through “how to combine all the different systems and methods into an efficient layout”.

The Selection Process

To attain these difficult goals it was decided to use a modular approach, which works well for warehouse layouts. Most layouts are just a combination of square or rectangular areas called zones; with each zone being a stand-alone segment of the warehouse.

Therefore, the selection process should be to first determine the type of storage and activity required for a zone and then select the equipment and aisle width to suit. The needed area is then easily determined and each zone becomes a moveable warehouse segment. It’s length and width can be easily reconfigured to fit as many complete warehouse configurations (combinations and placements of zones) as required.

The first step is to consider the different types of goods to be stored, their physical sizes and weights and the type of activity they will require for storage and retrieval. These will be fit into different types of zones.

Types of zone activity will usually fall into one or more of these categories:

  • Pallet-In……Pallet-Out
  • Pallet-In……Pallet-Out / Cases-Out / Pieces-Out
  • Cases-In…..Cases-Out / Pieces-Out
  • Pieces-In….Pieces-Out

In order to progress from the types and needed activities of stored products to a completed layout, the authors recommend a six-step process. For enhanced clarity of the explanations, comments, and cautions, many full-page drawings were considered essential.

For each zone the selection process might then become:

1) Consider and select the preferred storage equipment.

2) Consider and select the preferred handling and order selection equipment.

3) Decide on the preferred storage aisle width. This may not be the narrowest possible. There are many considerations in deciding aisle widths.

4) Combine the storage and handling equipment with the chosen aisle. This is the basic system for a zone.

5) Then comes the very important check of all dimensions to ensure that there will not be any surprise problems. Regardless of warehouse size, the planning is based on a game of inches or fractions of an inch.  A rack bay which is ½” longer than expected can make a row of racks unacceptably long, perhaps messing up the width of access aisles or in-floor wire-guidance.  Every equipment and aisle combination should be checked by an experienced person. Quite often ”The Devil is in the  Details”.

The chances of misfits increase when a number of suppliers are involved and close attention from the project manager becomes very important.

6)  When the selections have been finalized and checked for compatibility each zone can then be inserted where wanted in the overall plan. It is here that the number and width of access aisles (“main aisles”, “cross aisles”) can be determined and the locations of building columns checked. Some suggested “fixes” are shown for instances where the columns become a problem.

The authors believe the manual achieves to a large extent the goals they set in regard to illuminating the process of warehouse configuration and equipment selection. Kirkus Reviews calls How to Configure and Equip Your Warehouse “An informative operational due-diligence primer.”

How to Configure and Equip Your Warehouse is available from a number of major book suppliers with a “look inside” on their websites.  In Canada go to friesenpress.com. Also, check it out at Amazon.com and on Google Play.

 

* For the purposes of this manual a “System” or “Storage and Handling System” is used to include any combinations of storage and handling equipment, along with the methods and aisle widths used to store and retrieve products. A warehouse may have any number of these different systems which, through a step-by-step method, are inserted into the total warehouse layout.

Hyster Company Discussses Productivity Enhancing Technologies and Solutions, Zero Emission Lift Trucks

Technology developments in Big Trucks, such as a zero emissions, high-capacity electric powered truck, the addition of Hyster Tracker to all Big Truck products as a standard feature, and solutions that save time and money were some of the topics addressed by Hyster at Breakbulk Americas Show in Houston, TX, held from October 17-19.

The trend of declining breakbulk and project cargo volumes is continuing in 2017, fueled by lower commodity prices and competition from container ship carriers that have to expand services due to overcapacities and low shipping rates. “Add the rising complexity of breakbulk cargo, and you find breakbulk operators looking to stay afloat in a very competitive market,” explains Brett Schemerhorn, president Big Trucks for Hyster Company.

The Right Lift Truck for Heavy Loads

When it comes to moving traditional breakbulk such as steel or lumber, terminal operators are looking for material handling equipment to efficiently handle a variety of different load types and sizes, at as little cost as possible. “We are very familiar with the steel and lumber industries on the manufacturing side,” says Schemerhorn, “and we apply that knowledge to help cargo shippers and terminal operators maximize productivity and minimize cost.” One way to make the most of one’s budget and improve productivity is to ensure that your lift truck is able to support many different types of cargo, even if that means different front-end solutions are required. The Hyster® H700HD with a coil ram will be on exhibit at Breakbulk Americas 2017 as an example of a flexible solution. The innovative carriage design allows the QD-type mounted coil ram to hook directly onto the shaft without any alterations or adapters needed. Schemerhorn adds that “the exchange between forks and the coil ram is easy and fast, enabling operators to switch the truck’s front end and get it back to work on different cargo quickly. This exchange improves productivity and saves money.”

Efficiency of Connected Machines

Earlier this year, Hyster Company revealed product changes that are aimed at supporting the port and intermodal industry. “We are now incorporating Hyster Tracker into every Big Truck and container handler sold in the US, Canada, and Latin America, excluding Brazil. Hyster Tracker helps terminal operators monitor key performance indicators such as lift truck utilization, fuel consumption and service updates via a user-friendly portal, anytime, anywhere,” says Schemerhorn. Included features such as fault code monitoring and impact sensing mean that repairs and maintenance can be handled effectively, while GPS tracking, hour meters and truck use reporting can provide information to help improve productivity and processes, including yard layouts. The package can be upgraded to include wireless verification (access control for operators, truck shutdown when unattended or not in operation, and operator pre-shift checklists) for an additional fee. Hyster Tracker comes with a 60-month data plan at no additional cost for the customer.

Zero Emission Big Electric Trucks

Terminals that are looking to reduce their carbon footprint and total cost of ownership can visit Hyster at this year’s Breakbulk Show in Houston to learn about the zero-emission loaded container handler truck currently under development at the Hyster global design center. “A modular approach gives customers choices when it comes to selecting the best zero-emission solutions for their operations,” explains Jan Willem van den Brand, director Big Truck Product Strategy and Solutions for Hyster Company. To achieve the lowest total cost of ownership, the most suitable power option will depend on the requirements of the specific operation – application and infrastructure. Van den Brand adds “for example, an electric truck with a large battery pack and conventional charging may suit some customer needs. In other cases, more frequent ‘opportunity charging’ will be needed, and different methods of charging might be in order, such as wireless opportunity charging.” “Hyster Company’s current development of the wireless opportunity charging solution will be the first time that wireless charging has been used in this way,” says van den Brand. With the development of the new range of Hyster® Big Electric Trucks, a notable reduction in energy costs is expected. Servicing and maintenance costs are also projected to be considerably reduced in switching from diesel combustion to an electric powertrain, with lithium-ion batteries providing zero-maintenance energy storage.

 

Training and Forklift Simulation. A Match Made in… the Warehouse?

Hyster is exploring the benefits of using a forklift simulator in response to a growing number of companies interested in using simulation as part of their training programs. 

“Today’s forklift simulation technology provides the user with an immersive, full 3D environment combined with the actual controls and responses of a real lift truck,” says Robbert Wijnandts, Commercial Trainer for Hyster Company. “Even the toughest operating conditions can be simulated with the virtual forklift to give a real driving experience.”

The new Hyster Simulator has the same seat as featured on the Hyster® Fortens® model, the same pedals, steering wheel, CANBus and hydraulic controls.  The user wears a VR headset (360° Oculus stereoscopic goggles) and as their head turns it gives different views through the mast, up, down and to the side, while spectators watch the activity on a screen. The software can also be customised to create experiences with different masts and attachments, such as paper clamps.

“The resistance and feeling is almost exactly the same as the real thing, but the act of moving loads is of course in a risk-free “gaming” environment,” he says. “There are many uses for this technology deployed in the right way for the right businesses, from introducing people to the driving experience at an event, through to integrating it into training programmes.”

Robbert explains that some critics argue that simulation is not “hands on”, unnecessary and not realistic to the actual equipment, but he says those arguments miss the point as to what simulation can do.   Simulator training aims to reduce training costs and any associated risks, particularly early in the training journey.

To operate a lift truck in a live environment, there should typically be three stages to the training, beginning with Basic Operator Training (learning the basics about controls, hydraulics, safety etc.) followed by Specific Job Training (related to the equipment they will actually be using, and any attachments) and lastly Familiarisation Training where the operator is introduced to the actual live operation for the first time.

A mix of classroom-based theory and practical training is typically used to train operators in as little as three days with tens of thousands of operators trained this way each year.

Robbert suggests that forklift simulators can now be used throughout this learning journey, by training departments looking to increase trainee engagement, reduce cost and improve safety. It will suit big organizations who deliver training on-site and larger external training providers, with the benefit that they can train a greater number of operators. The simulator has many different settings so it can be used as a tool within different training programmes, from a fun awareness activity for non-operators, through to more detailed training sessions for skilled drivers.

“Rather than going straight to the training area, learning can be accelerated by building the trainees’ muscle memory in the classroom and improving their awareness of space and hazards from the outset,” he says, explaining that the pallet-sized unit is easy to set up.

“Lift truck simulators can aid and assist Basic Training but should never be considered as a replacement for this essential stage,” explains Nick Welch, Technical Director for RTITB, the preferred workplace transport training accrediting body. “However, they can have a place in Specific Training (as described in ACOP L117) and would add great value to the process.  The other area where simulation can add significant value is in the assessment of an existing operator’s ability and competence.”

However, it is not just about training the operators. Simulation can be used to find new potential drivers and give familiarisation training to warehouse operatives, supervisors, and managers, providing greater awareness of what drivers can see, and educate about risk.  It can also help with more regular refresher training, in the introduction of new safety initiatives, and to deal with issues such as complacency and bad habits.

“Daily routine and time pressures can make people forget what they learned on their initial training,” Robbert says.  “Regularly monitored simulation can help re-establish motivation and tests in various scenarios can help drive behavioral change leading to better productivity.”
For more information about Hyster, visit www.hyster.com.

White Paper – The Highest-Energy Li-ion Battery: Unlocking the Potential of the Silicon Anode and Nickel-Rich NMC Cathode

Over the past decade, lithium-ion batteries have become essential to the portable electronics industry, and more recently have been championed as the transportation power source of the future. However, if electric vehicles are to gain widespread commercial success, modern lithium-ion batteries need to be cost-effective, energy dense and long-lasting. Dr Daniela Molina Piper, Dr Tyler Evans, Dr Se-Hee Lee and their team at SiILion Inc have been completely rethinking the fundamental building blocks of these typical batteries, to develop an elegant solution to a significant modern problem.

A lithium-ion battery essentially consists of three components: two electrodes, and an electrolyte solution between them. The basic principle is that lithium ions contained within the electrolyte move from the positive electrode (cathode) to the negative electrode (anode) when the battery is charging, and back again when discharging. Almost all commercial lithium-ion batteries use an anode made primarily of graphite, long regarded as the most efficient material in its ability accept and release lithium ions during battery charging and discharging. The effective capacity of the battery is determined by the number of lithium ions that can reversibly travel between the anode and cathode material throughout battery operation.

The success of the lithium-ion battery is due to its many advantages over other contemporary batteries. Lithium-ion batteries have an almost negligible ‘memory effect’ (also known as the ‘lazy battery effect’) – a phenomenon that causes the battery to lose its ability to store charge (or its ‘capacitance’) with repeating recharges over time. They also have a large ‘energy density’, meaning that they have a high energy yield per unit volume of battery material. Additionally, they have low ‘self-discharge’ – a phenomenon whereby the stored charge in a battery becomes reduced, even when no device is connected to the electrodes. To significantly reduce our carbon emissions, and thus mitigate the most disastrous consequences of climate change, replacing our gasoline-powered cars with battery-powered ones is an essential step. The lightweight nature of lithium-ion batteries, as opposed to hefty lead-acid batteries, makes them an attractive option for this application. Indeed, most electric vehicles currently in development rely on a lithium-ion battery as their power source. However, the main problems that are incurred come down to battery capacity and longevity – the battery simply not having enough energy to power long journey distances. To be fully adopted as a viable transportation solution, the agreed estimate is that batteries need a gravimetric energy density of over 350 Watthours per kilogram (Wh/kg). The best efforts of current lithium-ion batteries fall far short of this, below 300Wh/kg.

A change for the better

Over the past 25 years, incremental design improvements have allowed lithium-ion batteries to increase their energy density by around 5-6% each year, but since their inception, the basic materials used in these batteries have remained unaltered. This slow improvement in performance is underwhelming, and the team at SiILion believes that this adherence to the same stale electrode materials is holding back the growth of the industry. A drastic break with the status quo in lithium-ion materials is needed if the exciting future adaptations predicted for lithium-ion batteries are to be achieved any time soon.

Figure highlighting SilLion’s cycling capability

Silicon anodes could be suitable candidates to kick off this paradigm shift in lithium-ion batteries. In theory, silicon is an ideal replacement for graphite because of its low working potential versus lithium, and its high specific capacity, which is nearly 10 times higher than the most modern graphite anodes. As such, considerable research has been undertaken with the goal of creating a lithium-ion battery with a functioning silicon anode. However, in practice, a silicon anode has several drawbacks, particularly with its propensity to expand when the battery is charged.

The volume expansion of graphite anodes in most commercialized batteries is 10-13%, and silicon’s expansion can be up to almost 300%. This expansion problem causes massive structural damage in the battery and compromises the fragile interface between the solid silicon electrode and the liquid electrolyte (the ‘solid-electrolyte interphase’, or SEI). Most modern research focuses on modifying the silicon material in a complicated way to accommodate more lithium ions without such severe expansion. The drawback of these modifications, however, is that they require intricate and costly processing methods, making this approach less appealing in the manufacture of commercial batteries. As Dr Evans of SiILion Inc explains, “Most of the published work around silicon anodes focuses on complex material modifications that ultimately will introduce manufacturing processes that are very difficult to scale.” A simple, scalable solution to the silicon anode is one key to higher-performing batteries.

But what about the cathode?

By improving the anode’s performance, you can increase a battery’s maximum energy output by 20-30%. However, to unlock the true potential of the battery, the cathode needs to be similarly enhanced. In terms of the cost of producing lithium-ion batteries, the cathode accounts for 30% of the total expense – more than twice that of the anode. Most conventional lithium-ion batteries use expensive and toxic cathodes, containing large amounts of cobalt, which limits their widespread application to electric vehicles.

Thus, cathodes containing large proportions of nickel are being explored as alternatives. Unfortunately, they are also problematic because they can be unstable at high temperatures and their structure may not be adequately robust. So, similar to the silicon anode, modern research is focusing on expensive and elaborate modifications to these nickel-based cathodes, which again will limit their commercial viability.

A revolutionary approach from SiILion Inc

Dr Molina Piper, Dr Evans, Dr Lee and their team at SiILion Inc see the potential of these next-generation electrode materials, but also believe that the complex modification of the cathode and anode is not practical if these materials are to be applied to commercial battery systems. They claim that this method of combining next-generation materials with old-generation electrode and electrolyte designs leads to obvious incompatibility issues. Because of this, the materials are increasingly over-engineered, and very little practical progress is made.

The team at SiILion is beginning to rewrite the rulebook for lithium-ion battery design. Not only do the cathode and anode materials need to be next-generation, the entire battery also needs revamping. The researchers are shifting their focus to auxiliary battery materials, building a support system for the modern silicon and nickel-rich electrodes using unique electrolyte compositions and electrode binders, while maintaining the advantage of decades of manufacturing expertise by premising their designs on compatibility with existing lithium-ion battery manufacturing methods. As Dr Molina Piper explains, “ Enabling the next-generation electrode materials will mean enabling a next-generation lithium-ion system design.” Moreover, the strategy for attaining next-generation performance must be commercially viable. SiILion’s cell technology, through utilization of lower-cost materials and manufacturing compatibility, will be 30% less costly ($/kWh) than state-of-the-art lithium-ion cells. By approaching the problem from the view of the battery cell system, SiILion achieves its breakthrough energy density and performance.

Promising results

With this philosophy in mind, the team at SiILion has undertaken the task of redesigning the old lithium-ion battery system, and their approach has already revealed some impressive achievements. SiILion has shown that when integrated into its unique system, state-of-the-art ‘nickel-rich’ cathodes and silicon anodes demonstrate a much-improved structural stability and safety, even at high temperatures. Dr Molina Piper also says that “SiILion has created the first viable 80% (by weight) silicon lithium-ion battery anode, capable of integration into standard electrode manufacturing processes.”

In fact, every silicon material that has been implemented into the SiILion system has shown an improvement in performance. “SiILion has worked with over two dozen types of silicon active materials (from over one dozen vendors), all showing marked improvement in capacity retention and coulombic efficiency when used in SiILion’s anode systems, regardless of the size or shape of silicon particles,” says Dr Evans. Of course, the team has its preferred material candidates, based on material stability and availability at scale. This ability to turn so many commercially available silicon materials into effective anodes could send shockwaves through the industry, making the current, over-engineered silicon anodes look overpriced by comparison.

The exact details of SiILion’s battery design remain confidential, but the problematic expansion effects that plague modern silicon anodes appear to have been overcome. As Dr Evans stated, the anodes display a minimal decrease in capacity after hundreds of charging and discharging cycles, and exhibit high ‘coulombic efficiencies’ – meaning that the charge is reversibly and effectively transferred through the system. This efficiency has been tested and proved with a variety of electrolyte materials, including coveted non-flammable electrolytes, which also shows the flexibility of the SiILion system.

Potential applications

The real strength of SiILion’s battery system is its simplicity and its ability to be customized. The SiILion anode design can be employed with conventional electrolyte materials and a range of cathode materials, or with non-flammable electrolytes and next-generation, high-energy cathode materials. Crude, low-cost silicon materials, such as large-particle ‘micron’ silicon materials, can be incorporated, or more exotic anode active materials, such as silicon nano-wires or nano-featured silicon/carbon composites, could be employed when the system requires higher power with faster charging capabilities. SiILion’s major focus lies on pairing its anode designs with ionic liquid electrolyte materials that can be used for applications that need the highest energy density with an emphasis on the utmost degree of safety.

The team at SiILion particularly stresses the high emphasis they put on safety when designing their next-generation lithium-ion batteries. As anyone who is aware of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fiasco can attest, malfunctions involving lithium-ion cells have the potential to be catastrophic. If a faulty battery were scaled-up to the sizes required for electric vehicles, the consequences of malfunctioning would be even greater. With this in mind, SiILion’s use of a non-flammable electrolyte aims to eliminate the stigma that is associated with upscaling lithium-ion batteries to electric vehicle proportions.

In addition to the system’s versatility to accommodate the needs of various applications, the technology was specifically designed by SiILion so that it could be readily integrated into the existing infrastructure that is currently used to mass-produce lithium-ion batteries. This drastically reduces any costs that would be incurred when updating the current hardware, and makes the prospect of using this system commercially all the more attractive.

What the future holds for SiILion

“The SiILion team members have become experts in cell design around high-loading silicon anodes, and this has proved very valuable,” Dr Molina Piper states. “SiILion can integrate a wide range of silicon materials into its anode, to adapt to performance needs, and this also allows the SiILion cell design to realize the improvements that will arise due to new material introduction into the lithium-ion industry.”

So, building on the team’s experience and expertise, SiILion’s next endeavor will be to optimize the material properties in its system, and then scale up the technology to truly demonstrate its value for the needs of electric vehicles and other applications. The company is now manufacturing 2.5Ah prototypes, capable of achieving >300Wh/kg, a pre-requisite step to ensuring that SiILion’s technology is inserted successfully into the markets. SiILion has also worked with its suppliers and manufacturing partners to validate its claims of lower cost, projecting a 25-35% cost saving, on a $/kWh basis, relative to current technologies.

Along the way to enabling vehicle electrification, SiILion is targeting the application of its technology in unmanned vehicles, specialty applications and consumer electronics, with its current generation of prototypes designed to meet the requirements of these markets. With its business development efforts led by Acting CEO Ed Williams, SiILion’s first-generation prototype technology is under evaluation or requested for evaluation by numerous lithium-ion manufacturers and end users active in its target markets. Ultimately, through development projects already underway and in the pipeline, SiILion is targeting a battery prototype that is predicted to deliver roughly 390Wh/kg – far greater than any commercial lithium-ion battery currently available, and tantalizingly close to the energy density stated as optimal for electric vehicle applications.


SilLion’s presentation, ‘Advanced Li-Ion Chemistries that Leverage the Existing Manufacturing Infrastructure’ took place on September 12, 2017, at The Battery Show Conference 2017.

How Wildfire Smoke Might Help Cool the Pacific Northwest

Forest fires cooling effect

Supplied by Flickr; CC-BY 2.0 License

 

It might seem odd to think that a wildfire might actually be able to cool off a region, but in one sense, that’s actually true. It may not be the case at those locations where the fires are in progress and consuming large tracts of forest, wherever the wind blows them, but in those sections downwind of the blazes, it does have a curious effect.

The Canadian wildfires which are currently dominating parts of British Columbia are being borne along powerful winds which are blowing in a persistently southern direction, which means they are sweeping toward the northwestern United States like Washington and Oregon. A blanket of haze fairly thick in some areas and thinner in others is thus being carried into many of the cities in those northern states and is actually blocking out the rays of the sun to some extent. 

Sun Screen in Place

With this shield in place throughout July 2017, and for the upcoming weeks, it can be expected that a kind of sun screen will be shielding residents of those areas from the hottest rays of the sun, and will impart a slight cooling trend to the region. With sunlight being reflected off that haze back into earth’s atmosphere, much less reaches the surface to make residents uncomfortable. 

This setup is counteracting the normal effects of the high-pressure systems which have dominated the weather in the Pacific Northwest throughout the 2017 summer, and which have brought record-setting temperatures to the region in the process. These high-pressure air masses, which normally move through the area have instead stalled out, and have remained in place for long periods of time bringing heat-wave type temperatures to the entire region. But with the thick haze carried southward from British Columbia, much of the accompanying sunshine has been blocked and prevented from adding to the cumulative heating impact.

How long will wildfire smoke be in place?

That steady stream of wildfire smoke can be expected to keep pouring out of Canada for the next several weeks since the British Columbia wildfires are still far from being controlled. However, Canada is receiving help from other countries, notably New Zealand, which has sent at least 80 experienced firefighters to help quell the blazes in the western provinces. Additionally, as summer comes to an end and the weather cools, we hope that the changing of the seasons will provide Canada and the Northwestern United States with some relief.

Nature’s Packaging supports sustainable North American wood packaging and is committed to North American forest sustainability. Forest fires are integral to forest health and can be beneficial to the plants and wildlife within a forest.

Resources

Why so much smoke in Seattle from B.C. wildfires? http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/weather/why-so-much-smoke-from-b-c-fires-natures-air-conditioning-is-broken-weather-service-says/

Canadian wildfires are so bad you can see them from space: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/canada-wildfires-space-vancouver-visible-nasa-worldview-british-columbia-satellites-smoke-a7877046.html