Canadian Manufacturing

Lift truck fuel cells get up to speed

Greene, NY-based Raymond Corp., a designer and manufacturer of electric lift trucks, recently added Plug Power’s GenDrive fuel cell units to its product line.

Recently named as an independent North American distributor of the fuel cell technology, Raymond will sell, rent or lease the fuel cell units, as well as provide warranty and maintenance service and distribute service parts through its North American sales and service center network.

This partnership has been in the works for a few years now.

“What our clients want are options and as a leader in this space we believe it’s incumbent upon us to provide them with alternatives,” says Chuck Pascarelli, executive vice-president of sales and marketing for the Raymond Corp. “We see Plug Power as a critical business partner.”

The Latham, NY-based Plug Power is a designer and developer of clean energy solutions for the material handling industry.

The company’s GenDrive lift truck units use low-temperature (60 – 160 degrees C) proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells.

For materials handling operations running multi-shift fleets, 24-hours a day, they need multiple batteries and battery changeovers can take up to 20 minutes.

“With a fuel cell, you never have to change it. You leave it in the dedicated truck and refuel it, which takes anywhere from one to five minutes,” says Warren Brower, product marketing manager for Plug Power. “There’s a lot of productivity gains just by keeping the truck on the floor.”

Compared to traditional technologies, such as lead acid batteries, Plug Power’s fuel cell units reduce CO2 emissions by 80 per cent over battery technology, and could potentially improve productivity by 20 per cent, according to Brower.

Powered by hydrogen, the GenDrive units combine multiple fuel cells in stacks supplied by Burnaby, BC-based Ballard Power Systems Inc. These stacks are designed to produce the appropriate amount of power for specific applications.

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