MODEX was a rousing success last week. Attendees buzzed about the growth of the crowd from previous events, the increased professionalism of the environment, and the speed of innovation in the material handling industry. Our team was most interested in all things motive/forklift power related and left with a few key insights:
- Customers are still looking for a better power solution because of existing pain. – We sat through multiple presentations of alternative power products that are not yet in the market, some still in their infancy stage. And yet, we spoke with end-user after end-user, eager to become early adopters of these emerging technologies. Customers running two and three shifts, as well as heavy usage applications continue to search for a better solution than the antiquated battery swap - break fix service model.
Alternative energy business cases are forming around labor savings – This is a change over the last few years and one we agree with—even if it is a tougher sell as “soft savings” to the buyer rather than just a reduction in “hard” CAPEX power costs!
There are still many charger company options out there. This is great for the customer and those that know how to apply the right technology to the right application—be it a telemetry-driven charger, a fast charge application, or battery swap. But how do you decide on which to choose? Some initial questions to consider are: (a) who is the power partner sizing your fleet’s needs? (b) are the chargers able to serve you well for every application? (c) how flexible are the chargers to change profiles over time to meet the needs of your aging batteries?
- Swap application / large battery rooms do have an alternative option today. It is the appropriate hybrid application of opportunity and fast charge with lead acid technology! - This story seems to have been missed this year at MODEX. ABT and others have installed fast and opportunity systems in hundreds of locations across the country and continue to monitor/manage thousands of these assets. While lead acid may be considered an "older" technology, we've learned it is incredibly robust when applied appropriately and managed well. Tricks of the trade include: (a) sizing applications properly (b) implementing a robust change management program with your operators from day one (we use our homegrown ABT University solution to do so) (c) leveraging data-driven action to drive your power service model.
The heightened interest in alternative energy has ABT excited—not only because we too are testing products in the field, but because there are many near term things customers can do to get rid of their power pain and reassert TOTAL CONTROL over their fleet. MODEX helped us realize that there is a lot of confusion in the market about alternative energy, and we look forward to using this SMARTBLOG forum to share field learning and insight.
Trying to decide what alternative power source to choose for your next fleet purchase? If so, give us a call to talk to one of our experienced engineers—depending on your situation, we may even be able to give you a free on site assessment—up to a $6,000 value!