Are you planning on a forklift charging station design and then build a charging station from the ground up? Or planning on converting an existing area into a battery room or charging area?
Operational and environmental factors are pushing companies to use more battery-electric forklifts in their work areas and warehouses. Environment-friendly electric forklifts are an excellent alternative to forklifts powered by combustion engines.
Whether you’re running a fleet of forklifts or just a single unit, a safe forklift battery charging station design is crucial to the day-to-day operation of your business.
This blog will discuss the key factors that you need to consider when designing a forklift charging station.
Essential Factors to Consider for a Safe Forklift Battery Charging Station Design
A forklift battery charging station is an integral part of the daily operation in any workplace. Hence, a charging station layout must be included in the original floor plan of a facility.
Here are factors to consider when looking for a proper charging station location.
Highly Accessible Location
To minimise unit downtime, the location of a forklift charging station should be near work areas as possible.
Forklifts travelling long distances to change battery can negatively affect the efficiency of a warehouse. Time consumed in travelling to charge or change a battery could be time spent on a more productive task.
The best location or position for a forklift battery charging station would be at the centre of a work area.
On the other hand, large facilities with a more extensive fleet of forklifts would need satellite charging stations strategically positioned near areas with high forklift activity.
Limiting the distance between charging stations and work areas is one way to reduce energy output. The shorter distance needed for lift trucks to reach their charging station means more battery power is conserved. Less battery power consumed means less-frequent charging is required, which ultimately leads to the reduction of a facilities energy output.
Another critical factor to consider when looking for the right location of a charging station is its distance to the main electricity feed. The further is the charging station from the facility’s main electricity feed results into a higher electricity bill.
Hence, a charging station should be located near the main electricity feed to cut down on power distribution costs.
Adequate Water Supply
Likewise, the location of the charging station should also be near the main water supply and drainage system as distance can also affect a facility’s water and sewerage bill.
Adequate water supply is vital to a charging station as forklift batteries need occasional watering (battery filling) and washing.
Also, water is necessary for showers and Eye Wash Stations. Without safety provisions such as Eye Wash Stations and showers, minor accidents can result in permanent damage or blindness to an employee.
Proper Drainage System
A specialised drainage system or a water treatment system should be in place as water run-off from charging stations contain hazardous waste. Warehouse managers should check for battery room requirements on plumbing, draining, and gas fitting for their workplace.
Size and Design of the Charging Station
Below are factors to consider when selecting for the size and design of the battery room.
Smooth Flow of Traffic
A battery room should allow sufficient space for all lift trucks and other vehicles to move around the battery charging room with no issues. Similarly, charging station doorways must be large enough for traffic to flow in and out of the room.
Another thing to put into consideration is to design the charging station to allow more space for future expansion or growth.
Sufficient Power Supply
An adequate power supply is essential to a well-designed charging station. A charging station needs sufficient power not only to charge forklift batteries but to power battery handling, cooling, heating, and ventilation equipment as well.
Acid-resistant Flat Flooring
Forklift battery charging station floors should meet OSHA, NFPA, and EPA standards. Moreover, the floor must be designed to resist acid damage and for easy clean-up in the event of a lead-acid spill.
Furthermore, the flatness of a charging station’s floor is crucial, especially if a warehouse uses battery changers or battery handling machines.
An uneven floor causes flexing, vibration, and stress on the machine during the lifting or battery handling process. And thus, uneven floors contribute to a decrease in productivity in battery handling machines.
Proper Charging Room Ventilation
Forklift charging stations are always at risk of an explosion. Forklift batteries give off oxygen and hydrogen gases after the charging process is complete. Proper ventilation is crucial to ensure the safety of workers inside the charging station.
The recommended hydrogen concentration for a charging room is only 2%. If the level reaches 4% or higher, an explosion inside a room is inevitable.
However, hydrogen gas, being odourless and colourless, is hard to detect, which makes it even more dangerous for the workers inside the warehouse. A hydrogen gas detector should be installed to activate alarms and ventilation equipment as soon as too much hydrogen concentration is detected.
Aside from the gas detector, the forklift charging station design should include natural means of ventilation. Furthermore, there should be openings to allow the installation of exhaust fans and other ventilation equipment.
Battery and Charger Storage
After establishing the location and size in a forklift charging station design, the next vital task to carry out is to design the proper storage for batteries and chargers.
Whether in an individual charging station or groups, the setup of batteries and chargers should be designed in such a way that they are convenient to operate. All the operators need to do is drive their forklifts into the station and connect the charger.
Here are fundamental principles to remember in setting up storage for battery and chargers:
- Cables used in connecting to batteries should not be longer than the manufacturer’s specified cable length.
- The position of charging stations must be according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, which aims for adequate ventilation.
- The manufacturer’s recommendation should be followed when stacking up battery chargers.
- Stands or shelves specifically designed for charging stations must be used to mount all forklift battery chargers
Safety in the Charging Station
A forklift charging station design should also be OSHA compliant. It is necessary to include safety equipment and provisions in a safe forklift battery charging station design. Safety equipment should be readily accessible when needed.
Below are the most common safety equipment and provisions:
- PPEs or Personal Protective Equipment must be readily available to maintenance employees and forklift operators. Safety gloves, goggles, and aprons are examples of PPEs.
- Non-conductive tools are ideal for maintenance and troubleshooting in an area where there is a higher risk of electric shock.
- Spill kits are essential in controlling acid spills in a charging station.
- Safety provisions such as safety barriers and eye wash stations should always be in place. Safety barriers like the ECO Pedestrian safety rail keep workers from straying into dangerous open areas.
Make Your Charging Station Safe with Verge Safety Barriers
Safety is the one of the most important factors you should consider in designing a forklift charging station. Let Verge Safety Barriers help make your forklift charging station and your entire workplace a safe and productive working environment.
Do you have any questions? Do you need to know more about our barriers? Contact us today and we’ll be happy to help you out.