Equipment Recharge Room Design Strategies
Facilities running only a couple of forklifts can generally change batteries on the go. Larger facilities operate more efficiently if they have a dedicated room for battery storage systems and recharging equipment. Proper room layout and use policies will greatly enhance productivity.
Battery storage systems should be located near the highest concentration of forklifts. In most cases, that means a space in the center of a warehouse or other facility works best. When the recharge room is located in a back corner of the warehouse to get it out of the way, workers must waste time driving a longer distance for a recharge. Very large facilities may need multiple rooms located throughout.
In some cases, forklift activity may be concentrated in a specific area rather than dispersed around the facility. For example a warehouse may store small, light items that are retrieved by hand on the east side, while larger loads that need forklifts are on the west side. Storage systems would be better located on the west side of the warehouse where the forklifts are.
Batteries release hydrogen. In normal use this is not a significant risk to workers. Although battery storage systems have many units in a concentrated area and hydrogen can build up in closed areas to explosive levels. The presence of rechargers gives a possible ignition source. Rooms should be well ventilated to ensure hydrogen can not build up.
Batteries are heavy and workers can be injured during normal handling. Rooms should contain battery handling equipment that allows the units to be easily moved and stored without workers having to strain or bend to reach them. The room should contain an eye-wash station in the event of acid spills, and the path to the station should be kept clear of obstructions. People who need an eye-wash station are, by definition, not seeing clearly.
If all the drivers bring their forklifts in at the end of the shift there is going to be a big traffic jam at the battery storage systems. This is wasted time and lost productivity. Rather than automatically charging at the end of each shift, policy may be for workers to recharge only when charge indicators reach a specified level. Alternately, workers may be given appointments individually, by group, or by forklift type. Staggering these recharge appointments ensures everyone gets in and out quickly.
Mobile battery handling equipment allows the units to be picked up out on the floor so forklifts do not have to drive into the recharge room. Drivers take these mobile battery storage systems to the forklift, extract the drained cell, replace it with a new one, and then move to the next one. Once the racks are full, the mobile rack goes to the recharge room so all units can be recharged at once.