The Raymond Corp., Greene, N.Y., partnered with faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York, Binghamton, N.Y., to develop and demonstrate a new energy storage process and solution for warehouse energy management. The solution will use solar panels, a stationary energy storage system and lithium-ion batteries on forklifts that will reduce energy costs for warehouse owners.

Funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Albany, N.Y., the project will allow researchers to work with The Raymond Corp. to develop an economically viable storage demonstration project, designed to demonstrate why a behind-the-meter storage system and controllable forklift charging can be beneficial for warehouse owners and the utility grid. Ziang (John) Zhang, principal investigator, and Pritam Das, co-principal investigator, both assistant professors of electrical and computer engineering at Binghamton University’s Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, will work with Raymond engineers to manage the energy generation, storage and consumption of lithium-ion batteries in their forklift trucks.

“We are honored to be selected by NYSERDA to support its clean energy initiative with research that includes a solar power system (photovoltaic), a stationary energy storage system and several forklift battery chargers,” says Zhang. “We believe this partnership with Raymond can give the industry an example of what future warehouse energy systems look like and how it can benefit all parties involved.”

Electric forklift trucks are traditionally powered by lead-acid batteries, which can have an extended recharge time of up to eight hours. In many high-use warehouses, several of these shifts may overlap where each forklift truck may have 2-3 batteries utilized per truck – one in use, one on recharge and one cooling down in storage.

“Our partnership stemmed from the manufacturing industry’s growing need for more sustainable, more controllable resources,” says Michael Field, chief executive officer of The Raymond Corp. “By implementing lithium-ion batteries into more forklifts, our customers will see the same high-quality products, but with overall energy consumption reduction due to the ability to charge at nearly 100% efficiency and reduced costs, on account of the batteries having a longer lifespan.”

The proposed solution can turn warehouses into a controllable energy hub that can be optimized to support the power grid during normal and peak grid conditions. Binghamton University will work with NYSEG to estimate the grid benefit/impact of the proposed system. Preliminary analysis includes an estimation of how the system impacts the efficiency of the local circuit.

“Controllable distributed energy resources, such as battery storage, will pay a significant role in managing the electricity grid in the future. We are excited to be working with Binghamton University and The Raymond Corp. on this exciting project,” says Carl Taylor, president and CEO of NYSEG and RG&E.

NYSERDA’s project assists the state in combatting climate change and puts it on the path to carbon neutrality. By partnering with Raymond, this initiative is focused on driving down costs and creating a self-sustaining energy market for both wholesale and commercial businesses in the state. Ultimately, Binghamton University and Raymond will work together to implement changes in warehouses to encourage sustainability, while engaging and educating the local community on their efforts. 

“This is an excellent example of how companies are pushing beyond the status quo to bring clean energy technologies into their workplace while supporting Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading clean energy goals,” says Alicia Barton, president and CEO of NYSERDA. “Incorporating multiple clean energy technologies into one system, such as this project, will enable warehouses to become more energy efficient, save money and increase productivity, while making their buildings healthier for workers.”