Case Study

Flow-Rite

No more stalled forklifts: Flow-Rite delivers a connected way to predict + prevent battery failure, so factories can stay on schedule.

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In a hectic factory, a low battery can have significant productivity costs

The
Challenge

Flow-Rite designs and manufactures fluid control systems for lead acid batteries, often in use for fleets of up to 200 forklifts. With so many batteries to maintain, it was not uncommon to miss a task that caused battery failure during critical operation times. They saw an opportunity to monitor battery health and automate a maintenance schedule to keep forklifts—and all the operations they supported—right on schedule. We imagined and developed a sensor sending data to a cloud-connected app, shifting the burden from employees and dramatically simplifying battery maintenance.

Twisthink designs and tests the custom circuit board

Work Summary

In the toolbox:

  • Stakeholder Research & Analysis
  • Mobile & Web App Implementation
  • Edge Device Development
  • Product Design

Researching the hurdles and desires of factory operators, we learned that although some competitors helped identify where a battery failed, no one was using sensor data to prevent battery failure or improve productivity. 

Our solution to keep forklifts moving needed to include:

  • A digital (no more spreadsheets!), automated way to monitor battery health and plan maintenance
  • Safeguards to prevent battery failure and understand battery health at a glance
  • Remote sensor that gathers and transmits data without complicating workflows 

 

The
impact

Battery Steward is a completely new product offering in Flow-Rite’s industry, measuring real-time battery temperatures, recording watering events, and monitoring battery usage and draw. Flow-Rite’s customers have reduced paperwork while sharing knowledge more broadly through the mobile app, increased efficiency with planned group maintenance of batteries to minimize downtime, and extended the life of their batteries through timely service.

 

Tech Spotlight:

Optimized the hardware, firmware + communication protocols for cost, effectiveness, and how well the hardware and cloud solutions met real needs.

Tech Spotlight: 

Feasibility studies led us to a more cost-effective circuit board solution of creating circuitry through a metal probe that could penetrate the battery itself.

 

Tech Spotlight:

A Wi-Fi/Bluetooth-enabled mobile app lets end users can check every battery’s status at any time with an encrypted login—all without having to go under the hood.

 

Tech Spotlight:

An intuitive, plug-and-play sensor removed the potential for errors in wiring, and provided at-a-glance battery status for those still used to manual checks.

Positively
quotable.

“We’ve always been a mechanical company, and we knew we had to expand outside of what we’ve traditionally done. Companies now see us as a technology company!”

– Mark Herrema

Engineering Director at Flow-Rite

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