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Making charging sustainable for forklift truck batteries

Making charging sustainable for forklift truck batteries

Saint-Gobain and its many well-known brands design, manufacture and distribute material solutions found in buildings, transportation, infrastructure and many industrial applications. As well as providing comfort, performance and safety their solutions also address the challenges of sustainable construction, resource efficiency and climate change. One of these materials is glass. Saint-Gobain is Europe's number one manufacturer of flat glass for the construction industry and this takes place at their site in Eggborough, East Yorkshire.

Production at the large site runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. Transportation of the glass around the site and for preparation for shipment off-site involves a combination of HubTex transport systems, Jungheinrich forklift trucks and pedestrian pallet trucks. To ensure the continuous availability of these systems the company has installed 21 Fronius Selectiva battery chargers complete with the unique and innovative Ri charging process.

Saint Gobain initially used a mixture of 50Hz chargers and decided to trial a Fronius Selectiva, comparing it against their existing conventional chargers. Convinced by the Fronius technology and efficiency of just a single trial charger, Saint Gobain decided to change eight of their existing conventional chargers to start with. Experiencing just a 16 month paypack period and savings of £225 per week on its energy bills across the charging process, just a year later the company opted to change all of their remaining chargers in their charging room over to Fronius. This totalled 21 chargers in all. They combined this with a ‘fit and Forget’ maintenance package from distributor EcoBat.

“Since installing the Fronius Selectiva chargers, the battery room has a much better atmosphere and is much cooler,” comments Richard Simpson, facilities manager at Saint Gobain. “The experience for those changing the batteries has greatly increased and we are seeing significant savings in electricity costs.”

The decision to switch to Fronius was based purely on the energy savings, but shop floor operatives subsequently realised that, when changing the batteries, they were much cooler which improved greatly the working conditions in the location of the chargers as well as having a knock on effect to battery life, and a reduction in the amount of de-ionised water being used to top up the batteries.

This factor alone helps to avoid high maintenance costs, low fleet availability and improves the service life of the battery.

This is due to the gentle and intelligent Ri charging process of the Fronius charger which prevents the battery from overheating. When plugged into the battery, the Fronius Selectiva charger retrieves information about the current state of the battery including size, age, temperature and charge level and, using the innovative Ri charging process, changes the charging characteristic accordingly to deliver the optimum charging cycle. Each charging cycle is therefore unique and cuts energy consumption by approximately 25% due to the reduction of heat generation during the charging cycle whilst simultaneously reducing the level of CO2 emissions produced by the charging process. The cooler temperature during charging ensures an extended battery life, significantly lowering operating costs.

“When efficiency, sustainability and cost effectiveness are key to a company's success, Fronius offer a solution to aid these goals,” comments Ross Adams, sales manager for Fronius UK. “With our I-SPoT calculator, we are able to conduct an free analysis and energy consultation of a company's existing charging equipment and give them a detailed overview of the potential savings that can be achieved when switching to Fronius Selectiva battery chargers.”


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