Home Industry News Releases Wine Companies “Press More” Out of Their Forklifts with Li-ion Batteries

Wine Companies “Press More” Out of Their Forklifts with Li-ion Batteries

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By Alex Pisarev, , CEO OneCharge

June 15th – Lithium-ion battery technology pairs well with the wine industry, like a good Cabernet with a lamb chop.

The wine business shifts with high and low seasons, which creates a challenge best met with effective equipment utilization. Li-ion forklift batteries are the optimal choice to power equipment used with seasonal fluctuations, and they offer cost-effective benefits to warehouses of all sizes.

In the wine industry, the production facility also must meet the highest standards of hygiene. A lithium-ion electric forklift battery produces zero pollutants and is a reliable and clean technology, a necessary feature for operations in the food and beverage industry.

Those in the wine business also include operations in a variety of sizes, creating equipment needs that are often unique to each business.

This article will explain how lithium-ion batteries meet the needs of a diverse array of wine producers and will illustrate some of the specific options available through OneCharge.

All-Season Power Solution

The wine industry fluctuates by nature, due to its basis in agriculture, which can be impacted by many variables. In addition to the regular ebb and flow of farming, there are random hits from climate extremes.

The last two years, for example, included shifts due to crop sizes, changes in customer purchasing habits during the pandemic, and wildfires in parts of California, according to industry leaders who spoke at the California Department of Food and Agriculture Annual Grape Crush Report (held online earlier this year).

Participants discussed how the market can be challenging to understand and predict, and how the full effect of the pandemic on wine sales remains to be seen. The bulk market, for example, saw an increase in purchases during lockdowns but whether those numbers will change again going forward is still uncertain.

“Overall the market is moving to balance but it is a little bit of a tenuous balance,” said Greg Livengood, president of Ciatti Company, in the online panel discussion.

As producers look to balance supply and demand, lithium-ion batteries are ideal for these variances. Li-ion batteries can wait for six months in off-mode, without the risk of losing capacity or becoming inoperable. On the other hand, opportunity charging allows the batteries to operate through multiple shifts, 24/7, for months in a row during the high season.

By comparison to lead-acid, lithium batteries are a much safer, more reliable, and economical source of power for loading and unloading trailers and moving crates and barrels at wineries, breweries, distributors and warehouse operations.

Perfect Equipment–Application Fit

Modern lithium battery management systems are Wi-Fi enabled and can provide fleet managers with a reliable power study. The data includes multiple indicators of lift truck battery performance and health, including energy throughput, the timing of charging events, etc. This data by itself provides valuable insights for better equipment utilization and can be further integrated with warehouse management software analytics.

A lithium power pack can be tailored to your operation’s requirements for when, where and how much power is needed. Due diligence in conducting a power study and settling on the right battery capacity means you only pay for what you need, focus on operations, and forget about the battery. It is one less factor that producers need to plan around, a key advantage in a business like the wine industry, which experiences variances throughout the calendar year and in year-over-year results.

Specialty Equipment

A battery charging and changing room, as required by lead-acid technology, is a heavy burden on any warehouse; it is next to impossible in a wine cellar.

OneCharge lithium batteries can help solve this problem with a wide array of batteries for specialty material handling equipment working in the “cave” or “narrow aisle” operations.

Whatever the equipment, OneCharge can help select an electric forklift battery and provide a Li-ion battery of the right size, shape and capacity.

Clean Power

In the wine industry, as in any other food and beverage industry segment, hygiene standards are of utmost importance. Electric forklifts powered by lithium-ion batteries are the ideal choice when it comes to an industrial battery safety. Li-ion technology is non-toxic power without the risks of acid fumes and spills associated with overheating lead-acid batteries or human error in their daily maintenance.

Lithium batteries use up to 30% less electricity due to better energy conversion, which translates into energy savings and a smaller carbon footprint for the operation. 

Case Study: Allan Brothers

A West Coast fruit and wine company was able to save nearly half a million dollars by switching its lift truck fleet to Li-ion batteries. Allan Brothers, which manages its own acreage, growing apples, cherries, and wine grapes, diversified its portfolio by purchasing Sagemoor vineyards in Pasco, Washington.

The company installed the world’s biggest fruit packing line in 2018. This meant the company would need a new battery space for a growing fleet of lift trucks.

This new, ventilated battery room was expected to cost $440,000, and company management calculated that maintenance of the then-current lead-acid batteries was already racking up 750 minutes of downtime and was costing $56,000 annually.

The adoption of lithium-ion electric forklift batteries eliminated the need for the battery room and the high amount of labor and costs associated with the daily maintenance of lead-acid batteries.

In addition to these long-term savings, there were instant benefits as well: batteries plugged in overnight were completely charged by the start of a new shift at 3 a.m. Quick-hit opportunity charging was used during shift breaks to further increase efficiency and prolong the lifespan of the batteries.

Also gone were the risks to preserving the hygienic production process required in the industry.

OneCharge lithium ion batteries provided a solution that met Allan Brothers’ cost, hygiene, and space needs, the kind of advantages that others in the industry stand to capitalize on.

Benefits of Li-ion in the wine industry

  • Reliable power on demand, no maintenance in idle periods
  • Single-battery operation through multiple shifts, no need for a battery room
  • Versatile drop-in solutions for a vast variety of specialty equipment
  • Increased uptime with opportunity charging
  • Safe, clean technology that satisfies the top hygiene standards
  • Reduced carbon footprint with lower electricity use than lead-acid batteries
  • Cutting-edge data capabilities
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