Procter & Gamble is converting its battery-operated forklift fleets at three warehouses to ones powered with hydrogen fuel cells, the consumer products giant announced late last month.
Fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity without combustion.
Latham, N.Y.-based Plug Power, Inc. supplied more than 200 GenDrive fuel cells for electric lift truck fleets at facilities in California, North Carolina and Louisiana.
P&G of Cincinnati said the new technology will reduce the impact on the environment and achieve a rate of return by increasing productivity. The fuel cells enable the truck to sustain its power over an entire shift, require less routine maintenance and are much faster to refuel. It takes about two to three minutes to replenish a forklift with high-pressure hydrogen gas.
Lead-acid batteries degrade and quickly lose their charge, resulting in decreased lift truck performance. On average GenDrive customers increase productivity by up to 15 percent and cut operational costs by up to 30 percent, according to Plug Power.
P&G also anticipates greenhouse gas emission reductions of up to 60 percent, it said.
Plug Power said it has sold more than 2,000 GenDrive units to FedEx Freight, Sysco, Coca-Cola and Whole Foods Market, among others. Walmart is using hydrogen fuel cells to power material handling equipment at its fresh food distribution center in Balzac, Alberta (see sidebar "Charged Up", p. 44 in the April issue)
P&G said it is considering other sites for conversion to hydrogen fuel cell material handling equipment. - Eric Kulisch