By Allan Leibowitz
Tony Fagg shows off the new Hyster hydrogen-powered model
Hyster-Yale has demonstrated the first hydrogen-powered forklift in Australia, showing a Hyster 1.8 "powered by Nuvera" unit at Hyundai's Macquarie Park head office in Sydney.
The Hyundai site was chosen because of its hydrogen refuelling station currently being used for the carmaker's local hydrogen vehicle testing.
Hyster-Yale Asia Pacific managing director Tony Fagg says the new hydrogen-powered forklifts are aimed at "companies seeking the ultimate combination of environmentally harmonious indoor and outdoor performance, without having to interrupt production cycles or have vehicles out of service for lengthy charging or battery changing. These benefits will extend to a wide range of materials handling operations, where productivity is a vital element in maintaining a competitive edge.
"We believe that not only are these the first hydrogen-powered forklifts in Australia or New Zealand, but also that such practical hydrogen-powered vehicles as these show the way ahead for a whole new generation of future-focused work vehicles, and perhaps, ultimately, for passenger vehicles."
The demonstration included refuelling, a process much like fuelling a car at a bowser, which takes a few minutes to provide enough hydrogen for "almost a full shift".
"The new hydrogen fuel cell-powered forklifts can be refuelled in as quick as three minutes, which saves significant downtime compared with battery-operated forklifts that can take up to eight hours to recharge," Fagg told guests. "This means the whole fleet can be used to its full potential - maximising product and operator utilisation - and provide gains in uptime and productivity."
The Hyster hydrogen vehicles are currently on sale in North America and Hyster-Yale Asia Pacific plans to introduce the line in Australia "in future years".
However, development of Australia's hydrogen infrastructure is required for the solution to be viable and the vehicles are only likely to attract the interest of large fleet operators who can justify investment in refuelling stations.
in Forkliftaction News
, current use of hydrogen-powered forklifts is limited to a few large fleets including Home Depot, which has been running close to 200 units in Ohio for some time. IKEA has had 20 fuel cell forklifts in action since 2014 at its distribution centre in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, France, and Walmart is using the rival Plug Power GenDrive fuel cells to power forklifts at 19 of its North American distribution centres.
At the demonstration, Claire Johnson, chief executive of Hydrogen Mobility Australia, alluded to the lack of refuelling infrastructure, noting efforts to address this through the Lighthouse Project, a planned public refuelling station network in Australia.
Johnson announced that Hyster-Yale has signed up as the 11th member of the network. "The objective of this project is to be a springboard for a nation-wide hydrogen refuelling network while educating government and the community about the wide-ranging benefits of hydrogen as a flexible energy vector, capable of linking every industry sector," she explained.
Hyster-Yale will be exhibiting its new hydrogen-powered forklift at this year's MEGATRANS exhibition at the Melbourne Convention Centre on May 10-12.