Sustainability in practice

Fronius “Selectiva” battery chargers with “Active Inverter Technology” allow large numbers of forklift truck batteries to be charged gently at Spar Austria, thus significantly enhancing the sustainable business activities of the group.

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Most people, especially in Austria, will know the “Spar” brand with the green fir tree in its logo. The company sees itself first and foremost as a food retailer and operates supermarkets across Austria, from Vorarlberg to Burgenland. The headquarters of this family-run company are based in Salzburg. The individual stores in the various Austrian states are supplied from warehouses run by six subsidiaries. Around 2000 employees from 38 different nations work in these warehouses.

161 helpers during order picking

The speed at which the stores receive the items they have ordered depends primarily on the order picking time, so a large number of electrically powered forklift trucks operate in the warehouse. In Wörgl, for example, 68 picking trucks, 41 pedestrian-controlled low-lift pallet trucks, 14 rider-seated low-lift pallet trucks, 15 reach trucks and 23 pedestrian-controlled high-lift pallet trucks are in use. All the vehicles come from either Jungheinrich or Still. A vehicle is permanently assigned to every driver, which means that he is responsible for maintaining the vehicle and also for charging the battery correctly and on time. The vehicle fleet at Spar is comparatively young, as the vehicles are replaced after no more than six or seven years.

Sustainability is a major consideration for Spar. Alexander Grill, Central Warehouse Logistics Manager, illustrates some of the countless examples of this: “In 2011, we started to use a full hybrid truck and we only use trucks that have the latest drive technology. The vehicles are only 3.71 metres high in order to reduce air resistance and have smaller tanks so they weigh less. The movement of air is also being considerably reduced by filling the empty spaces in the roll boxes with special offers that have not been ordered and by using folding containers for the return trip. What’s more, in Wörgl we have a rail link that we can also use.”

“When purchasing forklift trucks, we at Spar nowadays take the only correct approach, which is to regard the forklift truck, the traction battery and the battery charger as individual components”, explains Alexander Grill. “This makes the purchasing process somewhat more complicated, but has the advantage of bringing more expertise together at the table so we can find the best solution for the current requirements.” The best solution means that the so-called energy package, consisting of the traction battery and a battery charging system, contributes most of the on-going operating costs of a forklift truck due to the increasing cost of energy and the high battery costs. These costs can therefore be reduced by using the correct battery charging system.

Efficiency levels of up to 94%

Spar’s commitment to increase sustainability and treat natural resources with respect means that it monitors its investments and acquisitions very accurately. This is why Spar now only purchases battery charging systems produced by Austrian specialist Fronius. The reasons speak for themselves.

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With the “Selectiva” product range as used by Spar, Fronius offers chargers for intralogistics applications that, with efficiency levels of up to 94%, are the absolute state-of-the-art. Thanks to the HF inverter technology for traction batteries, which Fronius has dubbed “Active Inverter Technology”, the incomparably high efficiency level means that considerable savings in energy costs can be achieved compared with conventional 50 Hz transformer devices. Battery costs are reduced too, as the constant charging current and charging voltage provide ideal battery charging conditions that help extend battery life significantly – an important factor, as batteries are expensive.

“We have seen for ourselves that what Fronius says is absolutely true”, explains Christian Hemetsberger, head of the Warehousing department in Wörgl. “We noticed that even when an older charger is not charging, it consumes a tremendous amount of power. We therefore decided to carry out some comparative measurements between a 50 Hz charger using conventional HF inverter technology and a Fronius battery charging system with “Active Inverter Technology”. We concluded that the Fronius device was the only one that consumed very little power when on stand-by.” As the department head went on to explain, there were major differences in the battery heating test, where the Fronius technology once again came out on top due to its much lower charging factor. “When a battery manufacturer discovered that we use Fronius battery charging systems, he voluntarily offered to extend our warranty by 12 months”, explained both Spar logistics specialists.

“We are not only impressed by the economic and ecological advantages of the Fronius Active Inverter Technology, the professionalism of the battery charging specialists also take some beating”, explains Alexander Grill, adding: “Fronius provides effective support for our sustainable business activities.”

Fronius U.K. Limited

Ross Adams

Tel: 07580 076988

Email: adams.ross@fronius.com

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