Ace sites convert to fuel cells

News Story
- 7 Aug 2014 ( #679 ) - Oak Brook, IL, United States
3 min read
Dirk DeYoung
Dirk DeYoung
A large hardware cooperative is using GenDrive hydrogen fuel cell units from Plug Power Inc to power materials handling equipment in Wilmer, Texas, and soon in West Jefferson, Ohio.

Dirk DeYoung, facilities engineering manager for Oak Brook-based Ace Hardware Corp, says: "We want to see how Texas and Ohio operate for a year" before considering using fuel cells elsewhere. "We won't budget anything for 2015 but, if we are happy with the (Texas and Ohio) results, we may look to do more in 2016."

Each of Ace's 14 US distribution centres operates about 65 materials handling units, generally with an equal division among narrow-aisle, three-wheel stand-up and pallet-rider forklifts. Across all distribution centres, the Ace fleet is about a 60-40 split between Crown Equipment Corp and Raymond Corp.

In 2008, Plug Power, of Latham, New York, approached Ace about testing fuel cell technology at Ace's Rocklin, California, distribution centre, near Sacramento.

"We agreed to three-month tests of five fuel cells in pallet riders" at Plug Power's expense, DeYoung says. "We did time studies, checked on refuelling requirements and found everything (was) favourable. The cost, however, was prohibitive at that time."

A more favorable situation exists in "a green-field project where you can avoid putting in a battery room and a battery charging system", he says.

Two or three years ago, Ace began planning for two distribution centres to be build six months apart in Texas, near Dallas, and Ohio, near Columbus, to replace existing centres in those markets.

"The fuel cell issue resurfaced," DeYoung says. "We saw benefits with a two-minute refuelling versus 10-15 minutes to change out batteries." Ace determined it is possible to achieve a fast return on investment - two to three years - if it avoids the need for battery rooms.

Arrangements were made with Plug Power and Nuvera Fuel Cells Inc, of Billerica, Massachusetts.

Nuvera retains ownership of and installs portable onsite hydrogen reforming equipment, monitors the equipment from its headquarters and charges Ace a monthly fee. "If the equipment is down, they are obligated to truck in hydrogen," DeYoung says.

Plug Power and Nuvera technicians are on call as needed, and the suppliers have conference calls at least weekly with Ace. "Ace wants to partner with these folks, have a win-win situation and make sure we are communicating with them," DeYoung says.

Ace bought new materials handling equipment units from Raymond, of Greene, New York, for the 450,000 sqft. (41,805 sqm) Texas centre and from Crown, of New Bremen, Ohio, for the 534,000 sqft. (49,609-sqm) Ohio facility, which is nearing completion. "Both (suppliers) are supportive of fuel cell applications," DeYoung says.

Previously Ace relied exclusively on 36-V batteries, typically using the Deka and EnerSys brands to power forklifts, but the Texas and Ohio distribution centres found that accounted for 30% of their total monthly electricity bills.

Looking ahead, DeYoung believes the California distribution centre and one in Gansevoort, New York, near Albany, "would be good candidates" for using fuel cells. Ace would convert existing forklifts to fuel cell technology and would"need to operate simultaneously (with battery and fuel-cell-equipped forklifts) during the conversion" in those locations, he says. An ongoing motivator remains the high cost of energy in California.
Nuvera opens Netherland office
Nuvera opens Netherland office 30 Nov 2023 - Nijmegen, Netherlands - 1 min read
Australian scientists develop new lithium-sulphur battery design
Australian scientists develop new lithium-sulphur battery design 19 Oct 2023 - Melbourne, VIC, Australia - 2 min read
Remote crack company raises seed funding
Remote crack company raises seed funding 10 Aug 2023 - Delft, Netherlands - 2 min read
Previously about:
Movers & Shakers News Story - 5 Feb 2015 - 2 min read
Movers & Shakers News Story - 13 Nov 2014 - 1 min read
Fuel cell maker reports increase in orders News Story - 21 Nov 2013 - Latham, NY, United States - 2 min read
Do you have materials handling news? Submit your news here

PREMIUM business

Hawker Powersource, Inc.
HAWKER® offers a range of hybrid motive power solutions customized to adapt as your operation's needs change.

MTC Forklifts b.v. is an international wholesale company specialised in buying & selling forklifts, port equipment & aerial platforms. We deliver worldwide from our yard in the Netherlands. Check these specials:

2017 Combilift ESL2575 | 2012 Hubtex S50D
2014 JCB 930-4 | 2013 Hyster H18XM-12
2015 Genie GS1932 | 2015 Doosan BR16JW-7
2013 Caterpillar NSR12N | 2011 Nissan PLL180 

CONTACT US!   View our full stock of used machines. 

Words of support …

After advertising with, we got many enquiries regarding interest to be our distributor. Mostly from Europe and USA but including a few in ASEAN. We feel that the advertisement was useful and good for market expansion.

Lawrence Xu, Assistant Sales Manager - Resonac Asia Pacific Pte Ltd.

Are you recruiting? Find your ideal candidate among a diverse range of materials handling professionals:

Forkliftaction's JOB MARKET

We are over the moon to report that Forkliftaction's average web traffic for 2023 grew by a HUGE 58% when compared to 2022.

With our new average of +1,000,000 web visits per month, there's nothing we can't  achieve together in 2024!

To learn how Forkliftaction can support your brand's growth: DOWNLOAD THE MEDIA KIT

Inside The News
Hydrogen fuel cells are in the news again this week, with an unnamed American car maker choosing the fuel source to run the materials handling fleet at a new manufacturing plant... Continue reading

PREMIUM business

Microlift places great value on innovation and creativity, with the unprecedented I-TOUCH Handle.

Are you recruiting? Find your ideal candidate among a diverse range of materials handling professionals:

Forkliftaction's JOB MARKET

Seeking Ambitious Dealers Globally. Your chance to join a leading heavy machinery brand. Exclusive territories await!

Exclusive Territories Available. Join SOCMA's leading innovation in heavy machinery. 

Partner for success. Enjoy comprehensive support and impressive profit potential.

Contact us now - +86 153 050 495 72 -