How to Retrofit Your Fleet with Wireless Charging
In the busy world of warehouses and distribution centers, any operational efficiencies that can be gained are paramount. Electric material handling equipment, such as forklifts and pallet jacks, have become ubiquitous to most operations. And maximizing the investment in trucks and other material handling equipment is a constant goal.
One technology that maximizes warehouse operators’ investment in batteries and vehicles is wireless charging. By eliminating human intervention in the charging process and fitting into existing distribution center workflows and layouts, wireless charging is automated charging that keeps vehicles running and enables them to have smaller batteries that last longer.
Keep reading to find out more about this innovative solution that eliminates the need for manual plug-in charging, streamlines your material handling processes, and ensures your fleet operates at its best. The best part is that automated wireless charging works with the equipment you’re already using and requires little to no infrastructure changes, so it’s perfect for delivering operational improvements without a heavy lift on your team or bottom line. So forget needing to wait for a new warehouse build to start using automated charging – instead, follow these 5 steps to retrofit your fleet with wireless charging today and see immediate results!
1. Identify Your First Vehicles and Site
The first step to automating your charging is to identify your first vehicle(s), use case, and facility or facilities. To best gauge the impact automated wireless charging will have on your fleet, we recommend starting with vehicles that represent a larger portion of your current fleet and a common use case for your facility.
✔ Charge frequency - by selecting a vehicle(s) with more frequent charging needs, you and your team will see the benefits of automated charging immediately.
✔ Real world environment - choose a site that is operational now to experience the full potential of automated charging on your operations. Facilities that leverage autonomous vehicles or a mix of manned and autonomous vehicles are excellent locations.
✔ Space - automated charging eliminates the need for battery rooms and extra vehicles. If any facilities are currently in need of more space, they may be good candidates for automated charging.
✔ Team - identify one or two champions who will be using the first charger(s) to provide feedback, to better understand the impact of automated charging at scale. Note, for autonomous vehicles, the champion is usually an AGV Supervisor.
2. Choose On-Site Charging Locations
Next, it’s time to identify where in the facility the wireless charging base stations will be set up. Resonant Link’s chargers can be placed wherever they are needed within your facility, at places vehicles regularly stop during operations or breaks. Future product development will enable dynamic automated charging, where vehicles are charged while they move.
✔ Access to power supply - the Transmit Base Station connects to the grid using a 480 V, 3-phase power supply so anywhere you currently have high power access should be sufficient. That said, you may have to install a drop and perform minor installation work to ensure you can install the charger where you want it.
✔ Current location - we recommend starting with an existing charging location so your operators and/or autonomous vehicles can drive the same routes and maintain the same schedules as they do now, parking in the same spot as they normally would to charge their vehicle, only now they don’t have to do anything for charging to commence. For future phases, consider installing chargers where they’ll provide the greatest benefit to your operations, such as during planned stops and where operator travel time can be reduced.
✔ Options for opportunity charging - turn locations where vehicles regularly stop for 30 seconds or more into valuable charging locations. Our automated charging starts in two seconds so by placing chargers throughout facilities, you’ll eliminate unnecessary downtime forever.
3. Install the Units
Now it’s time to install the Transmit Base Station and mount the On-Vehicle Receiver to the vehicle(s). Resonant Link’s automated charging systems are easy to install and all-solid-state, so they have no moving parts. The Transmit Base Station easily mounts to the floor. The On-Vehicle Receiver bolts onto a standard 13” battery box. A Resonant Link team member can assist with the initial installation. For custom configurations, contact us.
4. Train Your Team on the Basics
Resonant Link’s chargers are built to maximize your operational efficiency, whether you use manned vehicles, autonomous vehicles, or both. With the largest parking range in the industry and contactless instant start, operators or AGVs simply drive up and charging begins in two seconds. There are no unwieldy connectors to plug or unplug and there’s no forgetting to charge. Automated charging is the only way to ensure predictable, consistent uptime.
To ensure a seamless experience, Resonant Link will train your team on system installation and functionality, including:
✔ Parking - Resonant Link’s automated chargers have a 5x greater parking range than other wireless chargers. Vehicles should be parked with the On-Vehicle Receiver facing the Transmit Base Station and be within the parking range, an up to 10” by 12” box from the center of the Base Station. The Base Station is equipped with a display that indicates when an operator or autonomous vehicle has parked within the range, or if not, how they should adjust the vehicle to ensure it is parked within range and charging can start.
✔ Object detection and safety - Resonant Link’s wireless lift truck charger features industry-leading live and foreign object detection. Before charging starts, an automatic safety check occurs to ensure there is no risk to charging beginning. If an object is detected the system will not begin charging or will immediately stop charging and alert the operator or a maintenance team so they can remove the object and charging can safely resume. Training will be provided to ensure maximum charge time.
✔ Installation and replacement - while the automated charging system is designed to be robust to typical operations, operators and maintenance will be trained to inspect the units for any damage and how to reinstall.
5. Monitor and Optimize Fleet Performance
The best part of our automated charging is it requires no human involvement. That said, you will want to understand the value it provides to inform future plans, such as optimal charging locations and vehicles to charge next, as well as to optimize existing workflows such as vehicle routing and charge schedules. Monitor vehicle performance and operator productivity to ensure your material handling equipment operates at peak efficiency, and your team sees the maximum benefits of automated charging. Share feedback with your Resonant Link team and let Resonant Link know of any questions or issues.
✔ What’s most valuable to you - work with your Resonant Link team on a rollout plan to scale automated charging for your operations. Resonant Link can assist with internal communications and training to build awareness and excitement about the program results and what’s possible with automated charging.
Retrofitting your warehouse fleet with wireless charging for material handling equipment is a significant step toward streamlining your operations, eliminating vehicle downtime, and enhancing the overall efficiency of your warehouse or distribution center. By evaluating compatibility of different wireless chargers, choosing the right technology, following installation best practices, and monitoring chargers for learnings that will help you optimize workflows, you can successfully transition to automated charging that works without human intervention and can keep your vehicles running 24/7. Contact our team today to discuss a simple retrofit plan, and get ready for a future where your material handling fleet runs smoothly and effortlessly, and your warehouses operate at their best.