How Clutter Can Limit Productivity in the Battery Charging Room
In the battery room, clutter is always bad news — a few loose cables or unorganized tools can be a serious safety hazard, as we’ve addressed in earlier blogs. However, it’s important to note that every facility will occasionally suffer from disorganization in battery charging areas, even if accidents never occur.
The accessibility of chargers, battery changers, and other equipment directly affects productivity. As every fleet manager knows, a few lost minutes per day can have a major impact over time. Forklift fleet management is a sizable industry, and the goal of every fleet management system is to shave minutes or seconds off of essential maintenance tasks (without reducing the lifespan of the lift truck’s battery or other components).
Clutter adds time to every battery change by limiting access to equipment, forcing workers to spend more time navigating lift trucks around obstacles. Even worse, charger cables and connectors can easily become damaged in a poorly maintained battery room, preventing chargers from being fully utilized.
How much does this actually affect productivity? Every facility is different, but some simple math shows the potential scale of the problem. Assuming an active fleet of 20 trucks and 340 working days in a multi-shift facility, a single minute of lost time per change will mean about 226 hours of lost work each year. This is a fairly conservative estimate; the problem grows substantially if equipment becomes damaged due to poor cable management.
Some of the simplest ways to reduce clutter and improve battery room productivity include:
Create a Better Cable Management Strategy
Pogo-style cable retractors can help to preserve connectors while minimizing cable clutter, while magnetic mounts can be used to suspend battery leads, preventing premature wear.
Elevate Charger Stands
Many battery rooms can benefit from wall-mounted charger stands, which free up floor space while allowing for easier access to battery chargers. Be sure to plan for cable lead lengths when installing shelves or stands.
Keep Obstacles Out of Traffic Aisles
Lift trucks should be able to navigate easily in the battery room and pass one another without creating a safety hazard. Marking the traffic aisles can help to prevent workers from creating accidental obstructions.
Make Organization a Standard Part of Maintenance Checks
Make sure that battery trays, chargers, charger stands and other movable components stay organized by performing daily inspections and logging the results.
Regularly Assess Your Forklift Battery Fleet
In order to improve productivity, you need to perform regular analysis. Software fleet management systems can help to optimize your battery room by locating inefficiencies. They can also help you quantify your productivity improvements, which can help you reinforce the importance of a clutter-free charging area to your employees.
NREL estimates that the cost of labor is the largest single component of the annual cost of lift truck operation. Their estimate assumes an average changeout time of 10.5 minutes, with additional time for traveling to the battery room and queuing; however, by running an optimized battery room, operations can greatly reduce this figure. Less clutter means improved safety, longer-lasting equipment — perhaps most noticeably — better overall productivity for your entire fleet.
Ramsden, Todd. "An Evaluation Of The Total Cost Of Ownership Of Fuel Cell-Powered Material Handling Equipment." NREL. N.p., 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.
LaFergola, Joe. "Well-Managed Lift Truck Fleets Increase Productivity, Cut Costs." Distribution Center Management. N.p., 2010. Web. 26 May 2015.