Optimising processes and Avoiding operating faults

Time is money, especially in intralogistics. Which is why it is important to have the best-possible battery charging processes to maximise the availability of the forklift trucks, the service lives of what are often very expensive batteries and the safety of employees.

Optimising processes

To optimise the service life of a traction battery, the charging cycles should be as regular and as gentle as possible. Partial and opportunity charging can have a negative effect on the capacity and service life of lead batteries. Yet they are part of the day-to-day running of many businesses: if the driving time of an electrically-powered forklift truck is not sufficient for a complete shift, it is charged briefly and is ready for use again in a short time. However, reduced availability of the forklift truck system and the high cost of purchasing new batteries are risks for the long term.

Fronius battery charging systems have a calendar function that enables the operator to set a freely definable stop phase on the device. A charging process cannot be started in this period, for example between the beginning and end of a shift. This prevents harmful opportunity charging and therefore increases the service life of the traction batteries.

Overtime before public holidays, high volumes of incoming orders or particularly heavy loads? Electrically-powered forklift trucks are required to be extremely hard-working at times. But what happens when the capacity of the traction battery - and therefore the driving time - is not sufficient? Without the possibility of quick and easy opportunity charging, the forklift truck system would rapidly lose its efficiency and throughput in the intralogistics process would drop.

Fronius battery charging systems allow operators to carry out simple and targeted opportunity charging. The devices have an intuitive characteristic adjustment feature, enabling the user to switch between the various charging modes at the touch of a button - to select a special characteristic for opportunity charging, for example. This increases the driving time and improves efficiency.

Fronius Selectiva Battery Charger used indepenent

Christmas trade, harvest time and production peaks: seasonal fluctuations in the intralogistics load occur across all industries, and traction batteries for forklift trucks have to cope with varying levels of demand as a result. Many battery charging systems do not adapt to these changes, however - with serious consequences for the batteries.

If the charging technology is designed for maximum use, this means stress for the traction battery: as charging times are unnecessarily short, the battery temperature increases dangerously and the service life diminishes. If the battery charging system is simply set for normal operation, the charging times during production peaks are too long and the battery will not be fully charged. Time-consuming battery changes or opportunity charges are then required and the availability of the forklift truck system is reduced.

Fronius battery charging systems can be easily adapted to various application scenarios using the buttons on the display. This guarantees that the battery will always be charged in the optimum and most economical way. If particularly short charging times or opportunity charges are required during production fluctuations, the devices can be equipped with an optional electrolyte circulation system when they are configured. This ensures even loading of the plates and the best-possible utilisation of battery capacity.

When particularly high demands are placed on electrically-powered forklift trucks, an electrolyte circulation system (ECS) is often used to charge the traction batteries. This ensures ultra-gentle, cool charging and minimises overcharging, which in turn increases the service life of the battery, particularly in the event of regular opportunity charges. The charging time can also be reduced considerably and the battery is ready for use again in a shorter space of time. Thanks to reduced water loss during charging, the electrolyte circulation system also guarantees longer maintenance intervals.

Fronius battery charging systems are available with an electrolyte circulation system on request. These systems ensure even loading of the plates and optimum utilisation of battery capacity. The Air-Puls option saves up to two hours of time, as the electrolyte circulation system is excited using pneumatic pumps. This solution is ideal for applications in which opportunity charging of the battery is required. Back-up batteries are not needed in most cases.

Time is money, especially in intralogistics. Spent traction batteries for electrically-powered forklift trucks must be ready for use again as soon as possible - often within a few hours. The standard charging time is around eight to twelve hours, but this is too slow for most users. Battery manufacturers are responding by developing technologies that are specifically designed for rapid charging in less than seven hours. However, the load during the charging process is extremely high, as rapid charging results in considerable warming and stress of the battery, reducing its service life.

Fronius battery charging systems with the new Ri charging process ensure ultra-gentle charging, extending the service life of the battery. Charging times of five to six hours can also be achieved without any difficulty. Furthermore, the user is able to set different characteristics via the buttons on the display - for example, rapid charging can be set during the week and gentle, slow charging at the weekend.

Fronius recommends the use of an electrolyte circulation system for rapid charging. This is available for all Selectiva battery charging systems and ensures even loading of the plates as well as optimum utilisation of battery capacity. In addition, the “temperature-controlled charging” option is available for Fronius battery charging systems. This allows the user to set limit values for the maximum and minimum temperature of the battery. If the temperature is close to violating one of these limit values, the battery charging system outputs a warning. If the critical temperature is exceeded, the device stops the charging process so that the battery does not become damaged. This increases safety during rapid charging, extends the service life of the battery and makes the entire forklift truck system substantially more cost effective.

Operators often have several types of electrically-powered forklift trucks in operation, and thus various types of battery with different voltages and capacities. Usually a number of different battery charging systems are required to charge such a range of batteries, along with different charging plugs. Yet ensuring everything flows smoothly takes up a considerable amount of time and effort. Users have to label forklift trucks, batteries and battery charging systems accurately so that employees can match them up correctly. Furthermore, the forklift truck drivers must be suitably trained so that they can handle different devices and connector systems without difficulty, as operating faults can lead to a shorter battery life and reduced availability of the forklift truck system.

Standardising the battery charging systems can help. Fronius Selectiva battery charging systems offer flexible charging for batteries with a voltage of 24, 48 or 80 volts. Thanks to the automatic voltage detection, the charging characteristic is always adapted to the connected battery. In addition, the battery charging systems can be combined with all standard connectors. This simplifies the charging process significantly, as employees can connect any battery to any battery charging system. Complicated labelling and time-consuming training are thus no longer required, and operating faults resulting from incorrect assignment of the battery and battery charging system are a thing of the past.

In order to manage batteries and battery charging systems for electrically-powered forklift trucks, an inventory number is usually assigned to them by the operator. Normally the number is affixed to the device, however this does have a few disadvantages. If the battery charging system is not in the employee's field of vision, the number cannot be read without additional effort. If the sticker is lost, damaged or faded over time, the battery charging system will no longer be easily identifiable - if at all. In the event of a fault or during regular maintenance, this can take up valuable time.

Fronius battery charging systems allow the user to store the inventory number in the device. If required, this can be called up and displayed quickly and easily at the push of a button, simplifying identification of the device and reducing the time spent on maintenance and repairs. Fronius can also store the inventory number prior to delivery, making the commissioning process easier for the user.

Avoiding operating faults

Operators often have several types of electrically-powered forklift trucks in operation, and thus various types of battery with different voltages and capacities. Usually a number of different battery charging systems are required to charge such a range of batteries, as not every battery charging system is compatible with every battery. Problems can therefore arise if an employee connects a battery to the wrong battery charging system: the charging current can either be too strong or too weak, or the wrong charging characteristic may be used. The consequences are a shortened battery life and reduced availability of the forklift trucks.

To prevent errors in assignment, many operators have a strict labelling system for their forklift trucks, batteries and battery charging systems. However, this involves much additional effort and expense. Employees must also be trained regularly so that they can operate the different battery charging systems with ease.

Fronius Selectiva battery charging systems offer flexible charging for batteries with voltages from 12 to 80 volts. Thanks to the optional automatic voltage detection for 24, 48 and 80 volt batteries, the charging characteristic always adapts to the connected battery. Operating faults from incorrect assignment of the battery and battery charging system are therefore a thing of the past.

The standardisation of the charging plug provides further potential for optimisation: Fronius battery charging systems can be combined with all standard connectors. A company-wide, uniform connector system simplifies handling, as employees can connect any battery to any battery charging system. This results in streamlined processes and prevents damage to the expensive traction batteries whilst eliminating the need for the time-consuming labelling of forklift trucks, batteries and battery charging systems.

Disconnecting a traction battery from the battery charging system can cause sparking if the user has not ended the charging process first. This chars the charging plug, causing damage. The consequences are considerable maintenance costs and temporary loss of the battery or battery charging system due to defective charging plugs, with the performance and availability of the forklift truck system diminished in turn.

Fronius Selectiva battery charging systems are also available with an external start/stop option. This interrupts the charging process before the charging plug is disconnected and prevents dangerous sparking. With plugs no longer able to become damaged, safety during battery charging is improved and the availability of the entire forklift truck system is increased.
Most battery charging systems require the user to start the charging process manually, for example by pressing a button. This means that the battery charging system must be kept within reach of the employee, and this is not always easy in confined areas. It is also possible for the employee to connect the battery and then forget to start the charging process. The result: the battery is not ready for use in the subsequent shift, so the availability and performance of the forklift truck system is reduced.

Fronius battery charging systems can be set so that the charging process starts automatically as soon as the battery is connected. The start button does not need to be pressed, ensuring that the battery is definitely charged. Batteries that are not ready for use due to user error are therefore a thing of the past. The availability and performance of the forklift truck system is guaranteed.

If a battery charging system reports an error that the employee cannot resolve themselves, it is important to have an expert at hand who can rectify the fault quickly and reliably. However, this is not always easy; especially in large companies, the chains of communication are often long and not every employee knows who to contact when servicing is required. The consequences are expensive downtimes and reduced availability of the entire forklift truck system.

Fronius battery charging systems deliver proactive information about the battery charging system, the mains supply and the connected battery. The user can set the text that appears when a fault is displayed, e.g. contact details of an internal contact or service engineer. The operator can enter all the data themselves or use preconfigured text. If an error occurs on the device, the employee will be shown the details for their contact person, for example telephone number or e-mail address. Help can then be sourced quickly, reducing downtimes significantly.

Globalisation continues its march of progress, and intralogistics is a major driving force behind it. An increasing number of companies are organising their information and material flow across sites and national boundaries. However, this requires hardware and software solutions that can be understood around the world - irrespective of whether the user is in Europe, China, Brazil or the US. Battery charging technology for electrically-powered forklift trucks is no exception. Manuals and instructions in the relevant national language help to prevent operating faults and increase the safety, reliability and availability of the entire forklift truck system.

Fronius battery charging systems are supplied with several display languages as standard. The user can switch between these easily and flexibly, simplifying operation. Fronius battery charging systems are also ideal for use as a standard solution across the sites for companies with an international presence. A uniform, company-wide battery charging system ensures increased transparency and reduces the error rate, resulting in a safe and efficient intralogistics process.

When commissioning battery charging systems, operators of large forklift truck fleets are often faced with the laborious challenge of configuring each device individually. This takes up valuable time and introduces the risk of setting errors.

Fronius battery charging systems feature a USB port that allows all settings to be transferred from device to device without difficulty. During commissioning, Fronius specialists configure a battery charging system with the customer or provide the required data in an e-mail. The data can then be copied to all other devices extremely quickly using a USB flash drive. This ensures convenient, uniform programming during commissioning or in the event of altered customer requirements, and saves a lot of time. Operating faults are reduced to a minimum, resulting in safe and reliable charging technology.

Fronius also provides battery charging systems with customised factory settings on request. The desired setting is incorporated into the production process straight away, meaning that the user receives preconfigured and ready-to-use devices that do not require any additional effort to commission.