For its newest retail distribution center in Wilmer, Texas, Ace Hardware will deploy 65 GenDrive fuel cell units from Plug Power for its fleet of electric lift trucks.
Plug Power‘s GenDrive units competed against lead-acid batteries and fast charge batteries to be deemed the best power source for the material handling fleet.
A spokesman for Plug Power said in a busy distribution center, the lead acid batteries in forklifts and other electric vehicles have to be changed out and recharged two or three times a day. With the fuel cell units, Ace Hardware eliminates the need to charge batteries from an electrical source, saving money on electricity and reducing peak power costs.
Not having to change out batteries gives Ace Hardware increased productivity of its lift truck fleet. In addition, Ace Hardware reaps the benefit of more floor space available for storing goods, and operational costs are reduced as a result of decreased operator and vehicle off-floor time. GenDrive fuel cells can be fueled by truck operators in less than two minutes.
Because the GenDrive units are powered by hydrogen, the only by-products are heat and water, so Ace Hardware will also see reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The removal of toxic lead-acid batteries from this new facility also creates a safer environment for employees and helps fulfill Ace’s desire to improve the sustainability of its distribution centers.
Other GenDrive fuel cell customers of Plug Power include Wegmans, Whole Foods, FedEx Freight and Walmart. Plug Power says it has more than 3,500 fuel cell units in the field and over 6 million hours of runtime.
Construction of the Ace Hardware facility broke ground in mid-March for completion in early 2014. The lift trucks are manufactured by Crown Equipment Corporation.