While the benefits of fuel cells in forklifts hold true whether a warehouse is moving shoes in Minnesota or oranges in Florida, there are some operations that appreciate the increase in truck performance more than others, because their temperature inside is cold year round: cold storage operations. The big draw for cold storage users to fuel cells is that there is no decrease in performance in below-freezing environments, a substantial problem for traditional battery powered forklifts. Cold Facts magazine, a publication produced by the Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA), published a story in their January-February 2011 issue on the increase of fuel cells deployed in cold storage applications.
In the article, Hot Item in the Deep Freeze, Sandra Curtin writes, “Fuel cells have demonstrated an ability to meet or exceed performance requirements in sub-zero temperatures, an environment that can be challenging for battery technology.”
She goes on to name an impressive list of key players currently using fuel cells at their facilities (some in sub-zero conditions, some in perishable goods), including Central Grocers, WalMart, H-E-B and Sysco. The interest in fuel cells from the cold storage community appears to be on the rise, particularly from the GCCA (which includes the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses), who not only publish the Cold Facts magazine but also had our own Moataz Eldib present on fuel cells at their annual meeting back in August. So what does this all mean? It appears to be another indicator that the material handling community is looking for ways to increase productivity, and they are interested in learning about new technology, such as fuel cells, to see if a better solution is out there. And of course, we think there is.
To read the full article, Hot Item in the Deep Freeze, turn to page 22 of the online edition.