A fuel cell-powered Raymond forklift.
Raymond Corp is using its Greene, New York, plant as a test lab to observe what fuel-cell powered forklifts require to operate in a manufacturing environment.
The company said in a press release that it had won USD750,000 from the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) to research hydrogen fuel cell applications in electric forklifts.
Since 2004, Raymond has worked with fuel cell technology companies to explore the reliability of fuel cells as a forklift power source.
But this year Raymond has transformed its Greene manufacturing plant to a "living lab" with fuel cell-powered Raymond forklifts working in the facility.
Steve Medwin, manager of advanced research, said three class 2 forklifts and one class 3 forklift in the Greene plant's fleet would be fuel cell powered.
"Testing will occur over two years with the goal being to show the benefit of using fuel cells rather than typical lead-acid batteries," he said. The forklifts will be used in the manufacture of Raymond forklifts.
Michael Field, Raymond vice president for research & development, said the NYSERDA contract confirmed the merit of the project.
"By using our own facility as a test lab, we can streamline the development process and learn firsthand the requirements for using fuel cell-powered forklifts in a manufacturing environment."
Asked if Raymond would release a fuel-cell forklift like Toyota's FCHV-F, Medwin said "future truck plans were confidential". Raymond Corp is part of the Toyota Material Handling Group.
The US manufacturer would develop the necessary infrastructure for indoor fast-fill hydrogen refuelling systems.
"The facility changes are modest. A hydrogen dispenser will be located indoors in part of the facility while the hydrogen tanks and compressor will be outside on a concrete pad," Medwin said.
"Construction of the refuelling system started in November and the anticipated completion date is March 31, 2007. The first units to be tested are expected to arrive around the same time," he said.
The Greene headquarters include corporate offices, R&D facilities and 350,000 square feet of manufacturing area. Raymond produces stand up and sit-down counterbalanced trucks, order pickers, Swing-Reach trucks, sideloaders and Transtackers at the Greene plant.
The Transtacker is a heavy-duty AC/DC powered machine for narrow-aisle load handling and orderpicking. The Swing-Reach forklift is a warehouse machine with high-level pallet handling and case-picking capabilities.