Frequently Asked Questions
Fast charging combines advanced power conversion technology with precise battery monitoring to safely return energy to industrial forklift batteries faster than conventional or opportunity charging.
This allows operators to safely recharge their forklifts during regularly scheduled breaks. No time is wasted changing batteries and no extra batteries are needed, even for heavy-duty, multi-shift operations.
Fast charging has been in widespread use in the material handling industry since the mid 2000’s. In North America, Aker Wade Power Technologies has delivered over 20,000 fast charge ports since 2002, both through its own brand and Express®, the fast charge brand distributed by EnerSys®. These ports are in use throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada, surrounding vital distribution corridors and manufacturing areas.
Aker Wade sells fast charge systems to clients in Europe. Since 2010, Aker Wade Europe (AWE) has delivered over 400 fast charge ports to clients in Spain, Portugal, Belgium, France, Turkey and the Czech Rep.
For industrial forklift batteries, there are three levels of charging:
Conventional: used in both battery changing and for single-shift operations, conventional charging returns 16-18 amps per 100-ampere hours, for a charge rate starting at 16-18%. Conventional charging typically requires 8 hours of charge time followed by 8 hours of cooling prior to use.
Opportunity: used by single-shift and light-demand 2 shift operations, opportunity charging returns 25 amps per 100-ampere hours, for a charge rate starting at 25%. Opportunity charging avoids the need to change batteries but may not deliver enough energy for high-demand operations.
Fast: used by medium- to high-demand 2 and 3 shift operations, fast charging returns 40-50 amps per 100-ampere hours, for a charge rate starting at 40-50%. This allows a forklift’s battery to be charged in short bursts during breaks, providing enough energy for all-day, heavy-duty forklift usage.
By eliminating the need to change batteries, multi-shift operations can run forklifts all day with only one battery. This eliminates downtime associated with changing and results in higher labor productivity, reduced capital investments, increased availability of floor space, lower total cost of operations and most importantly – savings.
The process starts with Aker Wade’s FASTLook™ software. Using FASTLook software, an Aker Wade fast charge specialist works with a fleet manager to create an energy profile for each truck in an operation’s fleet.
The manager selects preferred charging opportunities, such as 10 or 15-minute breaks and 30-minute lunches. These small blocks of time are all a fast charge operation needs to provide each forklift with enough energy for a day’s operation.
The software automatically selects the right combination of batteries and fast chargers based on each forklift’s unique power and usage needs.
Once the software has selected a battery and charger, it compares the cost of the fast charge system to the manager’s existing solution. It’s common for a battery changing operation to reduce costs by as much as 30% after switching to fast charging.
Any operation is a candidate, including:
- Operations that run 2 and 3 shifts and currently change batteries.
- Operations that use internal combustion forklifts running on liquid propane or diesel.
- Operations that have tried emerging technologies like hydrogen fuel cells but now require a more robust and dependable technology.
All industries can all see performance and cost savings from the technology.
Yes. To maintain battery health, an Aker Wade fast charger is engineered to be part of a “closed loop” system where the battery and charger are in constant communication.
When an Aker Wade fast charge system is installed, a compact monitoring device is attached to the battery. As the charge session progresses, this device records every second of a battery’s operating details, providing the fast charger with critical aspects of the battery’s health:
This allows an Aker Wade fast charger to react to changes in the battery’s temperature and voltage. Should temperature rise, the charger will respond by automatically adjusting charge rates to maintain ideal temperature. This improves battery life and makes the system inherently safer.
With proper daily charging, weekly equalization and normal maintenance, fast charging creates no more wear and tear on batteries than conventional charging. A battery will deliver the same total amp-hour life in both battery changing and fast charging applications.
Fast charging keeps batteries at a higher state of charge (SoC) throughout the week, which is good for both battery and truck. Electronically controlled charge algorithms ensure a safe and effective battery recharge.
Data from each battery monitoring device can be sent automatically to a single location for analysis. Aker Wade offers an integrated gateway device to transmit operational data from an entire fleet of chargers, batteries and lift trucks for review in our Motive Power Manager (MPM) software.
MPM software’s graphic reports allow fleet managers to evaluate the performance of every piece of equipment, the behavior of team members and identify the right time to make a maintenance call.
Unlike conventional charging, which requires batteries be charged to over 100% and then be finished/equalized each day, fast charging requires only one finish/equalization charge per week.
During normal weekly operation, the fast charger will keep the battery at between 25 – 80% state-of-charge. This ensures temperatures remain at safe levels while providing the energy required by the operator.
An Aker Wade fast charger will sense the need for equalizing and can be programmed to automatically perform the operation when it’s most convenient, such as on a weekend.
Since gassing only occurs during the finish/equalization charge, the net effect of fast charging is less gassing, less often. For fleets that migrate from 3 batteries per forklift to a single battery, the reduction in on-site emissions is significant.
Minimal gassing also allows fleets more flexibility to park their forklifts anywhere they like, including near break rooms. This, in turn, minimizes cross-facility foot traffic, reducing the potential for accidents.
Aker Wade fast chargers work with a wide variety of standard AC inputs, including 380, 480 and 600 Volts.
Facilities that change batteries already have the necessary electrical service. And because most manufacturers already run large electronic equipment, most have the right infrastructure.
For facilities that need a service upgrade, the costs of installation can be added to the same lease as the forklifts themselves.
By eliminating the need to over-charge and equalize multiple batteries each day, an operation will reduce total electricity consumption for a given facility.
Fast charging eliminates waste throughout an organization’s value stream:
- Eliminate unneeded overcharging.
- Eliminate non-value added trips to the battery room.
- Eliminate downtime waiting for battery changes.
The process starts with our proprietary FASTLook software. We use FASTLook software to create an energy profile for every truck in an operation’s fleet, and then show fleet managers graphically how a fast charger and battery will work in their application.
FASTLook software allows a fleet manager to select preferred charging opportunities, such as 10 or 15-minute breaks, 30-minute lunches and brief shift changes. In most cases, these small blocks of time are all an operation needs to keep batteries in a state of charge sufficient to perform all work activities.
Aker Wade will perform an analysis of your forklift fleet for free and provide you with the results.