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Partnership seeks to create more sustainable warehouses

By Journal Staff


Binghamton University, Raymond Corp., NYSEG team up on NYSERDA-funded project

PHOTO CREDIT: Binghamton University, The Raymond Corporation

BINGHAMTON — Binghamton University recently announced that some of its faculty are working to develop and demonstrate a new energy storage process for warehouse energy management. 

The project will use solar panels, a stationary energy storage system, and lithium-ion batteries on forklifts that will reduce energy costs for warehouse owners, according to a Binghamton University news release. 

Funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the project will allow researchers to work with The Raymond Corporation, a Greene–based manufacturer of electric forklift trucks and intralogistics solutions, to develop an “economically viable storage demonstration project.” The initiative seeks to demonstrate why a “behind-the-meter storage system and controllable forklift charging” can benefit warehouse owners and the utility grid. 

Ziang (John) Zhang, principal investigator, and Pritam Das, co-principal investigator, both assistant professors of electrical and computer engineering at Binghamton University’s Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, will work with Raymond engineers to manage the energy generation, storage, and consumption of lithium-ion batteries in their forklift trucks. 

“We are honored to be selected by NYSERDA to support its clean energy initiative with research that includes a solar power system (photovoltaic), a stationary energy storage system, and several forklift battery chargers,” Zhang said in the release. “We believe this partnership with Raymond can give the industry an example of what future warehouse energy systems look like and how it can benefit all parties involved.” 

Electric forklift trucks are usually powered by lead-acid batteries, which can have an extended recharge time of up to eight hours. In many high-use warehouses, several of these shifts may overlap where each forklift truck may have two or three batteries used per truck — one in use, another on recharge, and one cooling down in storage, the release noted. Lithium-ion batteries “provide great benefits to Raymond’s customers, but the fast-charging feature may cause significant energy demands to warehouse owners during peak times, which is why this project was developed.”

Michael Field, CEO of Raymond, explained how the partnership came about. “Our partnership stemmed from the manufacturing industry’s growing need for more sustainable, more controllable resources,” he said. “By implementing lithium-ion batteries into more forklifts, our customers will see the same high-quality products but with overall energy consumption reduction due to the ability to charge at nearly 100 percent efficiency and reduced costs, on account of the batteries having a longer lifespan.”

The proposed solution can turn warehouses into a “controllable energy hub” that can be enhanced to support the power grid during normal and peak grid conditions. Binghamton University says it will work with New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) to estimate the “grid benefit/impact of the proposed system.” Preliminary analysis includes an estimation of how the system affects the efficiency of the local circuit. 

“Controllable distributed energy resources, such as battery storage, will play a significant role in managing the electricity grid in the future. We are excited to be working with Binghamton University and The Raymond Corporation on this exciting project,” Carl Taylor, president and CEO of NYSEG and RG&E, said.

NYSERDA says that by partnering with Raymond, this project is focused on “driving down costs and creating a self-sustaining energy market for both wholesale and commercial businesses in the state.” Ultimately, Binghamton University and Raymond will work together to make changes in warehouses to encourage sustainability, while informing and educating the local community on their efforts. 

This initiative builds on a prior NYSERDA-funded project completed by Raymond in 2017 which showed the advantages to using lithium-ion batteries for energy storage on forklifts, per the release. The earlier project developed methods for the battery, truck, and charger to communicate temperatures, state of charge, and other status information, as well as demonstrate improved performance while the forklifts were in operation.                 

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