Posted on: 15 July 2016
If you are in charge of procurement for a warehouse or any other type of industrial facility, it's important for you to understand exactly what the needs are when you receive requests from the various departments in your facility. Unfortunately, the department heads who ask for new equipment don't always understand the safety issues involved. This can make it difficult to understand what any department needs.
A perfect example of this is when a warehouse switches from manual pallet jacks to battery operated forklifts. The department ordering the forklifts may not understand that a battery charging station presents a host of problems all due to one word—hydrogen.
Battery Powered Forklifts Need a Battery Recharging Station
Hydrogen is released when batteries recharge. The production of hydrogen is a normal chemical reaction that results when the metal in rechargeable batteries reacts with water in the battery reservoir. The most important thing to know about hydrogen is that it is highly explosive. The batteries will need to be recharged often, depending on the manufacturer's directions and how frequently your facility uses the equipment. Therefore, you'll need a battery recharging station somewhere in your facility. However, it cannot be placed just anywhere due to the dangers that are involved.
You will need to make sure all of the safety code regulations for your area and type of facility are met. To do this, contact the building code enforcement authority in your community or county. Here are a few things you'll need to consider.
- Away from Heat—Since battery charging stations are located inside buildings and hydrogen is explosive, it's important to install these stations away from sources of heat, such as power generators, and away from anything that can produce a spark, such as a faulty electrical outlet. If a remote area is not available for the installation of a battery charging station, a fire wall or heat deflector can be installed to block a heat source.
- Ventilation System—It's also a good idea to install a ventilation system. The current ventilation system in the facility can be retrofitted with additional duct work and a stronger blower to control the hydrogen to prevent it from building up in a central location. Alternatively, you can have an HVAC technician install a separate ventilation system specifically for the battery charging station. Since various industries and facilities have specific needs and requirements, this may be something that you'll need to discuss with your local building code enforcement authority.
- Hydrogen Monitor—Fortunately, there are hydrogen monitoring systems that can be installed in your facility. The monitors will alert everyone when hydrogen levels become dangerously high. These monitors can be simple or complex, depending on the needs of your facility. If your facility handles and/or stores explosive or flammable materials, such as tires or cans of hair spray, it's a good idea to incorporate a hydrogen monitor into your ventilation system via a programmable logic controller. That way, the ventilation system will automatically kick into high gear to pull the hydrogen out of the building whenever the monitor detects that the explosive gas has built up
Hire a Fire & Life Safety System Developer
Obviously, since you are the procurement point of contact for these types of expenditures, it will be your job to make sure that everything gets ordered and that all of the contractors will be hired. One professional who can definitely help you pull everything together for the battery charging station for your new forklifts is a fire and life safety system developer. The people who work on these systems are typically master electricians.
For more information about working with battery-powered forklifts, contact a company like Horizon Equipment Rentals.Share