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Power Talks Ep. 7: Breaking Silos with Energy as a Service for Material Handling

Resonant Link
May 28, 2024

In episode 7 of our Power Talks interview series, Jean-François Marchand, Marketing Director at UgoWork, talks to host Kevin Lawton of The New Warehouse about the trends driving the transition to lithium-ion batteries and energy-as-a-service. Marchand talks about what energy-as-a-service is, why lithium-ion forklift batteries offer much more than better battery performance, and results from businesses using lithium-ion and energy-as-a-service.

This episode of the Power Talks interview series was filmed live from Resonant Link's booth at MODEX 2024. Subscribe to receive email updates when new videos are released. You'll get actionable insights from logistics and warehouse technology leaders on how to solve labor, equipment, space, and other logistics challenges.

Click play to listen to Marchand’s interview or continue reading to get the interview highlights.

Lithium-ion batteries have become increasingly popular for material handling equipment because they last longer and recharge much faster. Industrial trucks can also use lithium batteries to charge "on the go" during shifts, also known as opportunity charging, rather than "charge to full" all at once at the ends of shifts, which makes them advantageous for operations running multiple shifts and with higher throughput.

Because lithium-ion batteries cost more upfront than lead-acid batteries, companies like UgoWork offer an innovative service called “energy-as-a-service”, which is effectively a battery and energy management subscription. Lithium-ion batteries provide a higher return on investment for material handling fleets because their cost per cycle is lower due to their longer lifespan, making them the most cost-effective solution in the long run. However, many businesses still cannot afford to buy lithium-ion batteries for all or even part of their fleet. That’s where energy-as-a-service comes in.

Energy-As-A-Service, Explained

Energy-as-a-service is a turnkey solution where customers subscribe to a battery service that includes the battery itself, charging, wifi access points, software, a customer success manager, and even end-of-life support and battery recycling. It’s a good approach for people who want access to lithium, but don’t want to manage it. It’s also a good approach to keep upfront capital costs as low as possible, while upgrading your industrial batteries.

The life of a lithium-ion battery is longer than lead-acid, covering on average two lead-acid batteries, but to get started with lithium is expensive. By using energy-as-a-service facility operators can turn capital expenses into operational expenses, or OpEx, and more easily manage cash flow with much lower capital outlay upfront.

Easy Battery Management and Optimization

Having a partner who is always looking at how to optimize the battery’s performance so it works the best it can for as long as possible is a big reason businesses love energy-as-a-service. Marchand is seeing is that UgoWork's customers are really engaged with and appreciative of the level of proactivity they get with energy-as-a-service. In addition, both UgoWork and Resonant Link are part of MHI’s Advanced Energy Council which works to set standards for batteries, charging, and more broadly, industrial energy and power, so customers know they’re getting the most up-to-date information about emerging power and energy standards, and what that means for them.

It’s More Than Just the Best Technology

Many people are excited about the data they get through smart battery management systems and ask what they can do with it and how it adds value to their operation. How you harness data and make decisions from it is key and UgoWork has their own platform called UgoPilot that provides data visualization so facility operators can easily understand their battery health and, more broadly, opportunities to optimize their equipment use and workflows.

Energy-as-a-service is all about getting peace of mind from advanced technology and material handling equipment, with access to clear and integrated information needed to optimize operations holistically. Operators and facility managers need to make informed decisions, but don’t want to spend time finding and making decisions from information. Similarly, managing forklift batteries and energy shouldn’t be done in a vacuum; it’s part of a broader need to optimize energy at the facility level and to do that, intelligent and connected systems are essential. That’s why integrated hardware and software, with support, are essential. 

Ready For More?

To hear more insights and recommendations from Marchand, watch the full interview.

Explore our Forklift Battery and Charging Guide to learn more about the advantages of different types of forklift batteries and charging for forklift trucks.

And if you missed Power Talks Episode 6 with Damon Hosmer of The Raymond Corporation, watch the replay. You’ll discover sustainable energy solutions for your logistics, manufacturing, and warehousing operation.

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