National retailer activates battery management system

The system has resulted in yearly savings of $237,600 at the retailer’s eastern distribution center.

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Renowned for its influence in the industrial battery industry, an advanced technology solutions provider began to analyze a large national retailer’s eastern United States regional distribution center.

The analysis was primarily focused on the distribution center’s forklift operator and battery performance, as the solutions provider discovered one primary issue—poor battery maintenance had resulted in a shorter battery life and run times, along with an under-utilized personnel and an excess number of batteries.

At the time, the distribution center had 194 36-volt batteries, 544 24-volt batteries and 229 chargers. The company decided to install a battery management system in the battery room, as well as single-point battery watering systems and battery watering monitors on the 36-volt batteries. After the battery management system was activated in June 2014, the personnel collected data for two years.

Guided by data from the battery management system, the distribution center applied corrective strategies and achieved the following results in key performance metrics: battery changes, cool-down time, pallet jack and forklift batteries, scrap payment and return on investment.

After one year, the number of forklift battery changes declined by 32%, while pallet jack battery changes decreased by 22%. During the second year, forklift battery changes diminished by another 10% and pallet jack battery changes declined by another 15%.

The time spent changing batteries was reduced from seven to five minutes. And, the number of battery changes decreased by more than 30,000 per year—at a savings of $194,728 (based upon an estimated hourly wage for drivers and battery room attendants).

The distribution center’s pallet jack batteries’ cool down time increased 3.3 hours (on average) in 2014 to 12.3 hours in 2016. In addition, forklift battery cool down time increased from 3.4 hours to 12.2 hours.

The distribution center reduced the number of pallet jack batteries from 544 in 2014 to 380 in 2016—and decreased the number of forklift batteries in use from 194 to 153. And, the DC reduced the value of its battery inventory from $2,460,000 to $1,810,000, saving $650,000 on batteries that weren’t purchased from 2014 to 2016.

The distribution center also eliminated 138 24-volt batteries (at a scrap value per battery of $400) and 34 36-volt batteries (at a value of $761 per battery) for a one-time scrap payment of $81,074.

Prior to 2014, the DC averaged $213,000 in battery purchases each year. After implementing proper battery management practices, the distribution center increased the life of its batteries by four to five years or more, while also reducing the number of batteries required. In 2016, the distribution center spent $137,883 on new batteries—35% less than it spent in 2014.

The distribution center’s net cost for management equipment was $58,000, which included the battery management system ($100,000) and the battery watering and monitoring systems ($39,000)—minus the money earned from the scrapped batteries ($81,000).

Additionally, the distribution center’s net yearly savings totaled $237,600, which included labor savings ($195,000) and equipment savings ($42,600).

Philadelphia Scientific
(215) 616-0390


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