Efficiency is an essential element to all distribution centers, but it’s especially important for refrigerated and frozen food distribution centers where food safety is on the line. For instance, a lift truck using a battery rated for 8 hours at 77°F may have 50% life in a cold or frozen environment, impacting both productivity and the bottom line.
That’s why many refrigerated and frozen food distribution centers are turning to hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative power source. As a point of reference, more than 70% of Plug Power GenDrive fuel cell customers have a freezer space in their facilities.
This is the case for FreezPak Logistics, a Paterson, N.J.-based frozen food distributor. For over 50 years Saoud Enterprises, owner and operator of FreezPak, has been serving the food industry, making FreezPak one of the leading full-service cold and dry storage facilities in the United States.
So, when FreezPak built its latest New Jersey property from the ground up, it designed in operational enhancements and systems for a more productive and predictive workforce.
The New Jersey facility operates “around the clock” and is focused on delivering products to market efficiently with market-leading quality. One of the main strategies was to boost productivity and reduce carbon footprint, so FreezPak implemented GenDrive hydrogen fuel cells from Plug Power, Latham, N.Y., into its forklift truck fleet.
How hydrogen fuel cells powering possibilities
One of the reasons FreezPak chose Plug Power’s GenDrive fuel cells was their ability to provide a drop-in battery replacement for lead-acid batteries in all generations of FreezPak’s OEM lift vehicles. Further, hydrogen fuel cells provide a clean, zero-emission power solution that boosts productivity and reduces greenhouse gases. Unlike batteries, hydrogen-powered forklift trucks operate at full power all shift long, even in the most extreme conditions as low as -22°F. In comparison, a battery’s life can be reduced by 50% if its internal temperature drops below 30°F.
Additionally, battery changing requires 15 minutes per shift compared to two minutes for hydrogen refueling. Over a year, that 13-minute-per-shift time savings represents over 156 hours of lost productivity per forklift truck in a 3-shift operation. Fuel cells store enough hydrogen to complete a standard 8- to 10-hour shift.
With hydrogen fuel cells, cold chain facilities can eliminate battery rooms, lowering electricity bills and improving safety by removing heavy battery swaps and the potential for acid spills. Fuel cells contain no toxic materials and only emit heat and water as byproducts. Plus, they are safe for employees, the community and customers.
Hydrogen fuel cells continue to provide full power in cold operations, and run up to twice as long per fill-up compared to battery-powered units. This not only allows operators to stay productive longer moving goods around, but also means fuel cell-powered lift trucks can remain in the cold storage facility for longer periods of time.
In the New Jersey facility, FreezPak deployed Plug Power’s full-service GenKey bundle, including more than 40 Plug Power GenDrive fuel cells, a GenFuel outdoor hydrogen storage infrastructure with two indoor GenFuel dispensers and total GenCare service for both the fuel cells and hydrogen system.
In 2015, FreezPak adopted fuel cells throughout the entire facility, enabling FreezPak operators to refuel the units themselves in just minutes at strategically placed GenFuel dispensers on-site.
FreezPak is empowered by its GenKey installation to improve productivity and output for each shift, streamlining their material handling processes and improving product speed to market.