How Logistics Leaders Are Using Wireless Charging
Charging for industrial electric vehicles like forklifts is a constant struggle. Just like charging for passenger and commercial electric vehicles, electric forklift charging relies primarily on plug-in charging, which is a time consuming task and major limitation when every minute in a warehouse counts. For years, a better alternative to wired charging didn’t exist; however, today, logistics leaders can use wireless charging to automatically and quickly charge their electric vehicles without requiring a person to charge them.
Wireless charging technology has the potential to significantly enhance logistics and supply chain operations in the following ways:
Convenient and Efficient Charging for Fleets
Logistics companies like DHL Supply Chain are increasingly adopting electric vehicles for their material handling and delivery fleets to reduce carbon emissions. Wireless charging makes the charging process more convenient and efficient, as drivers don't have to physically plug in, or unplug, their vehicles. Instead, they can park within the wireless charger’s range and their vehicle will automatically recharge while parked or loading/unloading. This saves time and reduces costs associated with fixing wired chargers that break when drivers forget to unplug before driving away.
Eliminate Downtime for Forklifts and Material Handling Equipment
Wireless charging can be used in warehouses and distribution centers to keep forklifts and other material handling equipment operational throughout the day, without the need for extended downtime for charging. With wireless charging, vehicles never have to stop just to be charged again as chargers can be placed on planned routes and used throughout the day as opposed to at dedicated times like the ends of shifts.
True Autonomy for Vehicles
As logistics companies explore the use of autonomous vehicles and increasingly adopt them in their operations, wireless charging infrastructure is essential. Autonomous vehicles can be equipped with wireless charging technology to ensure they are always charged and ready to operate without human intervention, key to enabling true autonomy.
Greater Efficiency and Sustainability
Wireless charging can help logistics companies reduce downtime, improve operational efficiency, and reduce the environmental impact of their operations by enabling all-electric fleets. When wireless opportunity charging is leveraged to charge vehicles as they work, fleets require fewer vehicles and can use smaller batteries. In addition to reducing emissions associated with diesel fueled vehicles, wireless charging drives down the costs, material consumption, and carbon emissions from the production of trucks while mitigating supply chain risk.
Integration with IoT to Optimize Operations
Wireless charging systems can be integrated with the Internet of Things (IoT) to provide real-time data on the charging status of vehicles and equipment, helping logistics companies manage their fleets more effectively.
Speaking to the importance of responsible and profitable business practices that increase sustainability, Katharina Tomoff, SVP Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) at DHL Supply Chain says “everyone is moving in the same direction.” Tomoff, like others, also cites charging as a challenge to increasing electrification today. Yet logistics leaders are moving forward with a transition to wireless charging to enhance their fleet efficiency and increase sustainability.
DHL, UPS, FedEx, Amazon, Siemens, and Rivian are just a few of the companies who have discussed the importance of electric vehicle technology and wireless charging solutions for their fleets. With logistics and supply chain challenges only increasing, and transportation contributing a significant portion of emissions today, wireless charging is the only viable option to keep electric fleets running profitability while supporting broader electrification efforts.
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Photo: Afinis Group