Cellex Power Products successfully completed beta trials of hydrogen fuel cell-powered pallet trucks at two Ohio-based Wal-Mart distribution centers.(Earlier post.) The pallet trucks met and exceeded uptime, fueling, environmental and safety targets.
The beta completion is the culmination of a four-month long field trial of Cellex’s CX-P150 fuel-cell product. Twelve rider pallet trucks worked in continuous operation, logging more than 18,500 hours of active work with more than 2,100 indoor fueling occurrences by pallet truck operators.
This beta trial success is a significant milestone for Cellex from Wal-Mart’s perspective. We really put these Cellex-powered vehicles to the test in our pallet truck applications and they did the job. Our pallet truck operators were most pleased with their performance and the ease of use. We now understand that operationally this new technology can be utilized in this application.—Johnnie Dobbs, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president of Logistics and Supply Chain
Cellex fuel cells showed improved productivity via longer run times and shorter fueling times when compared to lead acid batteries. Pallet truck operators could fuel their trucks in less than two minutes, and the indoor fuel dispensing area of 200 square feet (compared to 4,000 square feet for a lead acid battery room) allowed operators to easily fuel their trucks quickly and safely.
The Cellex trucks are based on the Ballard Mark 9 4.8 kW fuel-cell stack. Ballard was associated with the Wal-Mart trials. Ballard originally developed the Mark 9 fuel cell for automotive applications, but it can be configured for motive or stationary power applications. Stacks are available in power increments from 4 kilowatts to 21 kilowatts.
Other companies associated with the trials included: BOC, a member of The Linde Group for hydrogen fuel; OKI Systems for service and support; Crown Equipment Corporation and Nissan Barrett for pallet trucks.
According to Cellex, the global market for electric lift trucks is growing on average by 5% per year with more than 700,000 electric lift trucks sold in 2004 alone. High throughout distribution centres typically average 1 million square feet in size, requiring a fleet of 100 to 300 trucks and up to three dedicated batteries per truck. Large operations such as those run by Wal-Mart, Kroger, Target, Sysco, SuperValu, Albertson’s, Ahold, etc. possess total fleets of between 5,000 and 20,000 lift trucks.