A partner of ours supplies multi-site logistic depots with E-Bikes across the UK. E-Bikes are being used in increasing numbers to deliver goods within our large inner-city areas as they provide significant benefits in helping to protect the environment from harmful emissions associated with more traditional types of delivery vehicles. However, they wanted to go a step further and look at the whole supply chain, especially how the batteries were being charged-up on site. Batteries require handling and when you are considering large numbers of them together, that then presents an issue, especially if they are being moved around by forklift trucks. So, how could a piece of bespoke equipment be developed that could provide efficient mobile charging and comply with the clean and green ethos?
We were approached to help with this project. The brief included the need to provide a battery changer that was totally manual and bereft of electrical and hydraulic components. It had to implement the use of a manual crank system and incorporate the ability to provide a competent mobile charging solution.
Our initial development stage considered several important points:
Manual crank lift mechanism
This mechanism allows operators to manually raise and lower the battery eliminating the need for electrical or hydraulic assistance.
Battery catching mechanism
A sturdy and reliable battery catching mechanism was developed to secure the batteries during the lifting process. The mechanism needed to be easy to operate and ensure that the batteries remained safely in place during transportation.
Rollers for easy movement
Rollers were fitted into the base to enable easy movement of the batteries during loading. This feature facilitates smoother handling and positioning of the batteries, improving overall efficiency. Different types of material were tested along with various pitch widths and roller lengths to arrive at the right combination.
Mild steel construction with RAL green 6029 finish
The machine was constructed using mild steel, ensuring durability and strength. The exterior was finished in RAL green 6029, providing an aesthetically pleasing appearance in line with the customer’s desire to be 'green' by association.
Mobile charging solution
The battery changer was designed to provide a mobile charging solution. This means that the batteries can be charged while they are secured in the battery changer, allowing for convenient charging on the go.
An initial sample was produced -
Max battery size: 950mm x 500mm
Max battery capacity: 900kg
Manually operated crank handle
Mechanical battery catch mechanism
The manual battery changer then underwent rigorous testing to evaluate its performance with the following key areas being assessed:
The manual crank lift mechanism was tested to determine its maximum lifting capacity. Various battery sizes and weights were used to assess the system's ability to safely lift and secure the batteries.
Durability and reliability
The battery changer was subjected to durability tests, simulating repeated usage over an extended period. This evaluation aimed to verify the system's reliability and ensure it could withstand the demands of daily battery changing operations.
Ease of use
Feedback from operators was collected to assess the ease of use of the manual battery changer. User experience and any challenges encountered during operation were documented to identify areas for improvement.
The manual battery changer, designed to supplement the electric bike range, successfully incorporates a manual crank lift system, as per the client's requirements. Through rigorous testing, the system's lifting capacity, durability and ease of use were evaluated, resulting in a reliable and user-friendly solution. The inclusion of additional bracings in the base enables easy movement of the batteries during loading, enhancing operational efficiency. The machine's steel construction, finished in RAL green 6029, ensures durability, strength and a visually appealing appearance.
Recommendations we utilised
- Implement any necessary design modifications based on operator feedback to improve usability.
- Conduct field trials with the battery changer in real-world scenarios to validate its performance and identify any potential issues.
- Provide training and clear instructions to operators on how to safely and efficiently operate the manual battery changer.
- Monitor user satisfaction and gather ongoing feedback to continuously improve the system's design and functionality.
Adapted e-bike for delivery company
Overall, the manual battery changer developed for the electric bike range fulfils the brief of a low-cost, non-electrical and non-hydraulic solution. Its successful implementation will contribute to efficient battery changing operations for the electric vehicle fleet, while also providing a convenient mobile charging solution.
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