Plant & Works Engineering
Tanking up on solar power
Published:  02 June, 2016

Efficiency and cost effectiveness are crucial in the logistics sector. Companies are facing major challenges due to tough competition and rising cost pressures, and at the same time customers and legislators are placing increasing value on ecologically sustainable solutions. For this reason, Schachinger Logistik Holding GmbH says it has optimised the logistics processes at its Stockerau site. PWE reports.

The service provider is now producing the majority of the energy it requires itself using a PV system with Fronius inverters. The Austrian technology company’s battery charging systems also ensure that Schachinger is able to charge its electrically powered fleet of forklift trucks gently and extremely cost-effectively.

Food logistics is currently undergoing radical changes. Growing product ranges, the increased use of special reusable load carriers, more frequent special offers, economic fluctuations and constant stock reductions in the retail sector are all huge challenges for the industry and which require new, innovative concepts to overcome. This is why an increasing number of food producers and retailers are placing their supply chain in the hands of logistics service providers who specialise in the transport and storage of food and drink.

Under the name "Schachinger marken & frische", the Austrian family-owned company operates as a holistic logistics solutions specialist for the food industry. The service provider explains that it always guarantees the correct environment for the transport and storage of chilled (2 – 6oC) and temperature-controlled (10 -18oC) goods - in a continuous chain from production, storage and picking right through to delivery to the retailer. At the Stockerau site in Lower Austria (not far from Vienna), Schachinger operates an ultra-modern logistics centre covering roughly 17,000m2, with almost 25,000 pallet storage locations and two temperature zones. From here, the company supplies customers all over Austria as well as in central and eastern Europe.

Ecological and cost-effective thanks to solar energy

Sustainability plays an important role at Schachinger, and this also applies at the Stockerau site. Like all the other company sites, the logistics centre here is powered exclusively by certified green electricity (Directive UZ 46) produced by its own photovoltaics system installed on the roof of the building. With an output of 1000 kWp (kilowatt peak), the system delivers roughly one million kilowatt hours of electricity per year - more than half of the total energy required. "This makes sense from both an ecological and economic point of view”, says Willi Breitenfellner, facility manager and procurement manager at Schachinger. The Austrian government not only funds investments in photovoltaics systems, but it also pays a fee for every kilowatt hour fed into the grid in order to encourage the use of renewable energy. "When the funding stops after 13 years, we can feed the energy into our own distributor to save on energy costs”, explains Breitenfellner.

At the heart of the system comprising of 3830 solar modules are 35 inverters from Fronius. The efficient, reliable and powerful devices convert the direct current generated in the solar modules into alternating current. The SnapINverter system developed by Fronius not only ensures that the installation and commissioning is quick and cost effective, but any maintenance work too. The output is perfectly adapted to the solar modules thanks to 30 Fronius Eco inverters each with an output of 27 kW and five Fronius Symo inverters each with an output of 17.5 kW, all installed outdoors on the roof. "This is not a problem thanks to the IP 66 protection class," adds Breitenfellner.

Efficient charging process reduces energy consumption

The fleet of electrically-powered forklift trucks used by Schachinger have been equipped with new Selectiva battery charging systems featuring the Ri charging process developed by the Austrian technology leader. These devices minimise the overcharging responsible for harmful warming of the traction batteries, ensuring an extremely gentle and cost-effective charge. "This offers two significant advantages," explains Breitenfellner. "Energy requirements are much lower and the batteries do not need to be replaced as often." The Ri charging process adapts to the individual requirements of each battery, taking age, temperature and state of charge into account. Every single charging cycle is therefore unique and has its own characteristic, making the process particularly efficient.

The 30 forklift trucks from manufacturer Jungheinrich in use at Schachinger as part of a full-service contract all have back-up batteries - the company operates a two-shift system meaning that the forklift trucks must be available 24/7. Fronius says that thanks to its charging technology this is not a problem: "The devices are flexible and can charge all traction batteries with a voltage of up to 80 V," explains Breitenfellner. "An LED display on each device shows our employees which battery is fully charged and has already cooled down." This results in longer driving times for the forklift trucks and lowers maintenance costs for the batteries. "Even though this service was included in our leasing contract, each failure was still time consuming and frustrating," recalls Breitenfellner.

Quality and expertise from a single source

Breitenfellner enthuses about the comprehensive optimisation approach from Fronius: "This provides us with tailored photovoltaics and battery charging solutions from a single source - and with consistently high quality." Since Fronius is able to draw on a wealth of knowledge and experience in both areas, Breitenfellner is certain that this will lead to the formation of crucial synergy effects. In addition, the company has a competent point of contact for any enquiries. "If required, the experts can be at our premises in minutes to offer help and advice."

Thanks to Fronius, Schachinger has taken a crucial step in the direction of sustainable, energy-efficient and self-sufficient logistics operations - a model for other company sites to follow in the future. "Selectiva battery charging systems are a fundamental prerequisite for all future tenders for forklift trucks," emphasises Breitenfellner. The company also plans to keep one or two areas free for additional photovoltaic systems.

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