Hydrogen Fuel Cell Solutions for Zero-emission Logistics: From the Manufacturing Warehouse to the Last Mile

The 2020 MHI Annual Industry Report, Embracing the Digital Mindset, was recently published and includes a number of enlightening perspectives about the challenges companies are facing and the innovation swelling up within the industry. 

At Plug Power, we believe that innovative technology to power electric motors with hydrogen fuel cells amid an ongoing paradigm shift in the power, energy, and transportation industries is critical to address climate change and energy security, while providing efficiency gains and meeting sustainability goals.

According to survey results, three of the six highest challenges faced by companies in material handling have to do with cost, response times, and forecasting. Vendors to the industry must provide products and tools that enable their customers to thrive amidst these increasing demands.

Plug Power is the leading provider of clean hydrogen and zero-emission fuel cell solutions that are both cost-effective and reliable. The company powers electric applications with hydrogen fuel cells across a broad spectrum of transportation applications including material handling vehicles, commercial fleet vehicles, and AGVs – from the manufacturing warehouse to the last mile.

Plug Power helps material handling professionals meet the demand for lower costs through our productivity-enhancing hydrogen and fuel cell products, available for all pieces of the supply chain. 

GenDrive – The industry-leading hydrogen fuel cell power solution for electric lift trucks. Over 32,000 units in the field today, with more than 220 million run-hours of operation (more than a million miles of driving!) are a testament to fuel cells being a smart solution for material handling. GenDrive customers see increased facility productivity, lower energy bills, and more space for commercial activities over facilities operating on battery-powered vehicles. GenDrive forklift fuel cells never require charging or changing. Battery changing requires 15 minutes per shift compared to two minutes for hydrogen refueling. Over a year, that 13 minutes per shift saved represents over 234 hours of lost productivity per forklift truck in a three-shift operation. 

ProGen – Hydrogen fuel cell engines powering the electrification of the transportation market. Plug Power’s ProGen engine line ranges in size from 10kW to 250kW. Our ProGen engines are beginning to be used in class 6, 7 and 8 heavy-duty vehicles, light/medium duty cargo box trucks, and various GSE and port applications. As the supply chain becomes more focused on electric vehicles, fuel cell-powered vehicles in highly utilized fleets offer expanded range and significantly longer driving time than battery-powered vehicles, with fueling requirements being similar to incumbent combustion engine trucks.

GenFuel – Our material handling and e-mobility customers are spread across the US. The company has built and operates more than 90 hydrogen fueling stations for commercial fleet vehicles, essentially creating a hydrogen highway across North America. More than 25 million fills have been completed by Plug Power customers at dispensers very similar to an automotive dispenser located in each facility.  

According to Thomas Boykin with Deloitte Consulting LLP, “Data is the life’s blood of the emerging digital supply chain.” As noted in the report, “A truckload of random data is essentially worthless. However, properly harnessed, supply chain data can be just as real and valuable as any company asset.” Plug Power products use predictive analytics with data collected through our SiteView tool,  for several customer facility-enhancing outcomes. Our services team determines when preventive maintenance is needed on the fuel cell-powered fleets – whether forklift or on-road delivery, so that they can be proactive, ensuring that the fleet maintains the highest availability, especially important in times when warehouses are seeing peak rates of movement in and out and response times are short. Our hydrogen fuel teams use the data gathered from our GenFuel hydrogen dispensers to assess and respond to fuel needs at individual facilities as well as across a customer’s entire network, enabling the customer to better forecast their needs in a given season or year.

According to the Survey, the younger generation embarking on supply chain careers  are more than three times more focused on corporate responsibility and sustainability than their older counterparts. When companies are competing in an evermore challenging market for quality talent, promoting their efforts in this area can only help attract and retain workers. Plug Power products are zero-emission, reliable, cost-effective clean energy solutions supporting corporate sustainability efforts while boosting productivity, ensuring businesses don’t have to make sacrifices in order to operate efficiently and cleanly. 

Material handling organizations are the lynch-pin in an economy becoming more and more focused on productivity and sustainability. Meeting demands for lower costs and shorter response times has meant that providing products and tools that provide innovative solutions to these challenges is imperative for companies wishing to assist the logistics market. Plug Power, through our zero-emission fuel cell and hydrogen products, and our emphasis on data usage for predictive performance, continues to be focused on our customers’ success.