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f+h Intralogistics 5/2015

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f+h Intralogistics 5/2015


BATTERY CHARGERS Round-the-clock deployment without changing batteries For a few months now, twenty modified Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV´s) have been zooming around inside the fresh distribution centre of Belgian retailer Delhaize. The Belgian battery manufacturer Trineuron equipped the Geo-guided vehicles with Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) batteries. A technology that offers many advantages. As part of a phased reorganisation, Delhaize Belgium last year commissioned the first 20 from a total of 34 AGV´s. The retailer forms part of the Delhaize Group, an international food retailer. The vehicles, based on the Jungheinrich ERE order picking truck, are used in the centralised distribution centre for Belgium and Luxembourg located in Zellik, Belgium, and have been adapted by the French company Balyo for both manual and fully-automated use. The vehicles navigate through the warehouse using a unique Geo-guided technology, that makes adjustments to the infrastructure, for example by placing reflectors, unnecessary. Trineuron, the lithium-ion division of energy specialist Emrol, equipped the AGV´s with Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) batteries. “LTO appeared to offer the most advantages for our particularly intensive use. It looked like the only battery technology that could make our AGV business case profitable“, says Jurgen Limbourg, supply chain project manager at Delhaize. Just how intensive operations are in the retailer´s fresh dc becomes apparent when Roel Gevaers, another supply chain project manager, explains: “More than 700 branches of the Delhaize Group in Belgium and Luxembourg are supplied from our fresh dc. Work goes on here around the clock; 24 hours a day, 302 days a year.” So reliable, continuous deployability of the AGV´s was the most important aspect in the business case. “The vehicles have to guarantee permanent functioning in order to make the investment profitable”, Gevaers observes. Charging in a few minutes To assess the feasibility of the business case, Delhaize performed an in-depth cost-benefit analysis in which different battery technologies were closely scrutinised. “This analysis clearly demonstrated that LTO offers major advantages and, despite the extra cost, is the best choice for us”, Limbourg notes. The short charging times and the extremely long, guaranteed service life were especially decisive. Trineuron’s practical experience with logistics service provider 2XL, where 15 AGV´s have been used without the slightest problems since the end of 2011, also played a role in Delhaize´s final decision in favour of the LTO batteries. An LTO battery can be used for six hours straight, but in fact the vehicles never ride that long continuously. In the interim periods, and with the help of their fast chargers, the batteries are completely recharged in just a few minutes − without any harmful consequences for their service life. At Delhaize, the batteries are charged from empty to full in 16 minutes. An even faster charging time of just eight minutes is technically feasible. “The operating system of the AGV´s takes careful account of the charging process, so that constant deployability remains guaranteed”, Gevaers adds. Safe and maintenance-free An LTO battery is sealed and maintenance- 56 f+h Intralogistics 5/2015

BATTERY CHARGERS In the specially-designed docking station, the battery can be charged from empty to full in just eight minutes free. There’s no gas formation or chance of leaking electrolytes. So a special charging room that meets all the legal requirements and has a separate charger for each battery isn’t necessary. Moreover, LTO batteries stand up better against cold than do other batteries. They demonstrate significantly less capacity loss and – in contrast to other lithium-ion batteries − they can also be charged at very low temperatures. Tests done by Trineuron show that the LTO battery can easily handle 25,000 cycles and that temperature has no effect on this at all. Trineuron designed customised docking stations for charging the batteries. In total only four are needed for what will ultimately be a fleet of 34 AGV´s. The vehicles can be charged both manually and fully automatically with the help of ride-in profiles mounted on the floor. The vehicles ride with the fork into the profile, run up against two shock absorbers, slow down and come to a stop right next to the charging pole. In this position, the contact plate − fastened to the battery and on the side of the truck − makes contact with the power supply plate on the charging pole. A message is then sent via data contacts to the fast charger to initiate the charging process. The first twenty AGV´s equipped with LTO batteries have been operational since last fall. Photos: Lead photo Trineuron/processing: VFV Grafik, Photos S. 57 Theo Egberts About Trineuron Trineuron is the lithium-ion division of the Belgian battery manufacturer and energy specialist Emrol. Based in Malle, Belgium, Trineuron supports customers around the world with their applications requiring electric energy storage, energy conversion, and energy management, by engineering and producing lithium-ion batteries, chargers, management electronics and software. The company has 35 employees and annual turnover is more than 11 M €. f+h Intralogistics 5/2015 57


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