Constantia Teich - Longer service life
At the supermarket, we are used to seeing everything set out in rows and neatly packaged, whether it's yoghurt, pet food or ready meals; and when visiting the chemists, your purchase or prescription will come in packaging of one form or another. In the overwhelming majority of cases, consumers are solely interested in what is inside. The packaging it comes in, with information on the product, how to protect and store it and promotional material, is a closed book to most people. Behind the various packaging solutions are a whole range of innovative techniques from highly specialised suppliers.
Constantia Teich GmbH is one of these specialists. The company, with headquarters at Weinburg in Austria, 60 km west of Vienna, is part of Constantia Flexibles, a world leading supplier of flexible packaging materials. The prime raw materials of aluminium, paper and plastic are used to manufacture premium quality products for supply to the dairy, confectionery, food and drink and pet food industries, as well as international pharmaceutical companies. Among the special equipment in use at Constantia Flexibles is a hightech aluminium rolling mill with a fully automated material transport system and highbay warehouse, and a vertically integrated production and foil supply. The aluminium foil sheeting, which can be up to 6.3 µm thick, is manufactured in Weinburg itself. Aluminium foil is impermeable to light as well as being gas-proof and air-tight and for this reason is ideal for use – in combination with other materials – when packaging foodstuffs and drugs. One of the main products manufactured by Constantia Teich are the thin, easy to pull off lids on yoghurt pots or cream cheese tubs that we are all familiar with. The lids, with a finish on either side, are designed to prevent oxidation.
With more than 800 employees, Constantia Teich GmbH is the leading company in the Constantia Flexibles group, which in turn forms a segment of Constantia Packaging AG, listed on the stock exchange. Constantia Flexibles is big enough to supply a range of products to multi-national compa-nies in the food, pharmaceutical and drinks industries. At the same time, the group is flexible enough to accommodate specific customer requirements and implement these to the benefit of the customer.
Range of forklift trucks
The manufacturing processes vary hugely – rolling, painting, extrusion coating, laminating, printing, stamping, cutting, punching and others – and are carried out on different machines that need to be linked in the production flow. This role is fulfilled for the most part by a fleet of forklift trucks. Project manager Franz Schmied throws out a few impressive figures: "We currently have a total of 95 electric-powered vehicles. These include front-loading forklift trucks for loads between 2 and 5 tonnes that also work outdoors, reach trucks for loads up to 2.5 tonnes, rider seated pallet trucks with a pay-load of up to 4 tonnes, and pedestrian pallet trucks that can carry 2 or 3 tonnes. The vehicles are supplied primarily by Linde, Jungheinrich, Toyota/BT and Still. We operate around the clock, which means the vehicles and their batteries are in constant demand. We use some replacement batteries, so we currently have more than 111 batteries and 80 chargers from Fronius."
It was primarily the short service life - a mere three to four years - of what are expensive batteries that led to a move at Constantia Teich GmbH to look more seriously at the question of "batteries and charging technology". In the past, we simply took the word of the forklift truck manufacturers and followed their suggestions in terms of chargers. For the most part, they proposed and supplied 50 Hz transformer technology. "In the course of our investigations it became clear that service life was significantly impaired by the battery heating up during the charging process. It is in this way that inverter technology first came to our attention", recalls Franz Schmied. "We then tried a different manufacturer, but it became apparent that the system was too complicated to operate, especially programming the charging characteristics, and damage was being caused by incorrect operation. Then, back in 2001, we tested the first Fronius devices with Active Inverter Technology. We were delighted with the results!"
It all adds up
The main aspects that won Constantia Teich over were the compact, space-saving design of the Fronius devices and easy programming of the ideal charging characteristics on the integrated display. "With heavy-duty everyday use, the batteries now achieve a service life of six to seven years and significantly more with light use. This is what really counts for us", added Franz Schmied.
There's no doubt that energy savings of up to 30 percent achieved with Fronius chargers were a significant factor, however, it was not the most important argument for the packaging specialist as "our total energy consumption is relatively high, so the costs in terms of energy consumption are comparatively low. For this reason, energy and cost savings when charging batteries are of lesser importance for us", explained Franz Schmied. The main savings come from the significantly higher battery service life due to the Active Inverter Technology employed by the Austrian battery charger manufacturer Fronius. The constant charging current and charging voltage produces gentle, optimised charging that prolongs the service life of the battery. However, as the Fronius chargers are priced slightly higher compared to conventional 50 Hz transformer technology and high frequency charging, we wondered how this affects the figures. "The higher price for the Fronius charger is a side issue when compared to the total cost of the forklift truck and the battery, and when taking into account the longer battery service life", explained the project manager.
There is no central battery charging station on the shopfloor at Constantia Teich GmbH; the stations are organised in a decentralised way. Vehicles simply drive up to the stations, with between five and ten chargers each, as and when necessary. The charging stations, where batteries receive an intermediate charge, are primarily used by forklift trucks that are not used in three-shift operation. This avoids the complicated process of having to replace batteries at intervals.
Of particular interest is the Selectiva Plus 8050 charger from Fronius that Constantia Teich has purchased for the workshops. It is designed for use with 80 V batteries, but smaller 12, 24, 36, 48 and 72 V batteries can also be charged. Different characteristics that can be set on the display allow charging to be optimised to suit the requirements of the application. The benefit for Constantia Teich is that any type of battery that comes into the workshops can be charged overnight.
Electrolyte circulation reduces charging time
"Some of our Fronius chargers employ electrolyte circulation", explains Franz Schmied, "but only in selected locations." The "Air-Puls" option, that is electrolyte circulation, reduces the charging time by around two hours and virtually eliminates the need to change batteries during multi-shift operation. In addition, the use of electrolyte circulation further reduces the risk of explosion due to gas build-up. This is also a regulatory requirement for battery charging stations in the vicinity of production machines.
"Taking the time to look in-depth at some of the key facts relating to batteries and charging technology has undoubtedly been worth the effort." concludes Franz Schmied. "As a result of our poor experiences in the past and our successful experience with Active Inverter Technology, we will continue to rely on Fronius in the future."
Fronius International GmbH
Froniusplatz 1, A-4600 Wels
Tel. +43 / (0)7242 / 241 6436
Fax +43 / (0)7242 / 241 95 2560