Crown Equipment Initiates Fuel Cell Qualification Program

Crown Equipment, New Bremen, Ohio, now offers a Fuel Cell Qualification program for its line of electric forklifts. The program, which approves Crown trucks for use with fuel cell power packs and provides certifications to customers, is the first of its kind within the forklift industry, according to the company. Crown received two grants for its fuel cell research, begun more than five years ago.

“Through our research, we can determine what, if any, alterations must be made to a fuel cell-powered Crown lift truck, so that it meets the same industry standards as a truck running on a battery,” said Eric Jensen, Crown’s manager of new technology research and development. “We’re taking the guesswork out of fuel cells for our customers. Those who want to switch can do so more quickly and easily, and can obtain Crown’s certification that truck safety and performance aren’t compromised. Those who want to conduct comparison studies with fuel cells and batteries can do so knowing that the truck’s interaction with the power pack is not a confounding variable. It’s one of the many ways we’re helping customers meet their environmental sustainability goals.”

To qualify a fuel cell power pack, Crown’s engineers first gauge key performance metrics for a battery-powered truck, such as traction, plugging, and lift and travel speeds. They then replace the battery with the fuel cell power pack and measure the same indicators. Through both modeling and application testing, the research team determines the necessary changes to allow the fuel cell-powered forklift to match the specifications to which the truck was initially designed.

Once a customer or a Crown technician has made the necessary changes, Crown issues a tag certifying the truck for use with the fuel cell power pack. Jensen said the tag is similar to a capacity plate, which lists a forklift’s weight, maximum load at specific heights, serial number, and certain safety warnings. Capacity plates also list attachments that have been added to or are used with the truck. Jensen added that similar to attachments, fuel cells change a truck’s characteristics. Crown’s certification tags alert users that a truck has been adjusted to work properly with a fuel cell power pack.

 “Although these adjustments aren’t always complex, they’re important,” Jensen concluded. “Organizations wishing to switch to fuel cells should understand the power packs’ impact on the forklift’s performance within their unique operating environment. Once the business decides to move toward fuel cells, it is imperative that the company works with a forklift manufacturer that has qualified safety and efficiency specifications, and certified use of fuel cells within the identified forklifts.”

The company conducts its fuel cell testing at a 25,000-square-foot research facility near Dayton, Ohio, that is dedicated solely to this purpose.