For long battery life
Everyone understands the fascination with toys. They captivate children and many adults alike. The VEDES group is profiting from a booming toy market. What was founded on March 6th 1904 in Leipzig as the purchasing association "Vereinigung Deutscher Spielwarenhändler“ (Association of German Toy Distributors) by its 14 original members has developed into Europe's leading trade organisation for toys and games. In recent years, the association has changed from being a traditional purchasing organisation to become a modern service centre. The Nuremberg headquarters forms a link between industry and the retail outlets. Its main role is to encourage its independent, affiliated companies and to promote the toy trade on the market. With modern structures and an efficient service portfolio, the VEDES headquarters supports 1,000 toy retailers across Europe in a highly competitive market. The two brands "VEDES" and "SPIELZEUG-RING" that retailers trade under are firmly established in the European toy trade.
VEDES at the centre of the toy industry
It is no accident that the company's headquarters are in Nuremberg, as the city has been the centre for the production and distribution of toys since the 15th century. Today, VEDES employs around 210 people at its site. From their 24,000 m² central warehouse, which contains around 20,000 items, the company supplies approximately 1,100 affiliated toy retailers. On top of this are 1,200 customers for whom VEDES distributes goods as a logistics service provider. This means that 100 to 120 shipments, mostly loads consisting of several pallets, plus around 1,200 packages leave Nuremberg every day.
Numerous manually controlled ground conveyors, which are controlled by a warehouse management system, are in operation at the VEDES central warehouse, the former regional warehouse of Grundig: two front loaders, nine reach trucks, two high-lift pallet trucks, 21 low-lift pallet trucks and a pedestrian pallet stacker. These are used for transporting and picking in situations where the load weight does not normally exceed 75 kg/m³. VEDES has purchased the equipment rather than lease it. The central warehouse operates a single-shift pattern from Monday to Friday, sometimes for 10 hours per day. As a result, the toy supplier does not require replacement batteries.
Most of the ground conveyors are electrically-powered Linde and Jungheinrich models, so optimal energy management is important for VEDES. "When we need new stackers or warehouse equipment, we buy the vehicles from the manufacturer with batteries, specifying that the battery charging systems must come from Fronius," explains Rainer Wild, logistics manager and one of the authorised signatories at VEDES Großhandel GmbH. He goes on to stress that "this is because the vehicle suppliers don't always offer us the optimal three-component system consisting of vehicle, traction battery and battery charger. We exclusively use Fronius battery charging systems for charging the traction batteries, as we have had nothing but good experiences with them for more than 10 years now. AIM Batterie Vertriebs GmbH in Fürth provides the chargers and the traction batteries for the vehicles if required. "We service the batteries and chargers," adds Peter Jordan, AIM managing director.
Twice the battery service life thanks to Fronius
The vehicles are not heavily loaded due to the relatively low load levels. Batteries with 48 V/625 Ah are installed in the stackers and batteries with 24 V/465 Ah in the picking devices. "It's the norm, not the exception, for these batteries to last 10 years and more", emphasises Rüdiger Sterl. He is responsible for logistics projects at VEDES Großhandel GmbH and is familiar with batteries and battery charging technology, as he worked for a manufacturer of battery chargers before moving to VEDES.
This long service life is down to the intelligent charging technology, which achieves an optimised charging power by applying a constant charging current and voltage. "We use battery charging systems from the Selectiva Plus range", explains Rüdiger Sterl, "2100 models with 24 V/100 A for the picking trucks and 4050 models with 48 V/50 A for the stackers." The common factor, according to the knowledgeable specialist, is that these systems automatically detect the age, charging status and other important battery criteria and charge the batteries accordingly.
Reliable and flexible battery charging technology
In contrast to conventional (high-frequency) inverter, or even older 50 Hz transformer technology, the Fronius charging technology only warms the battery slightly during the charging process. This gentle charging process increases the service life of VEDES batteries to 10 years. Other advantages of the low level of heating: Less water is used and the lower levels of gassing mean that battery contamination is reduced. "A contributory factor to the extended battery life is that we hardly ever have to apply the full charging current," explains Rüdiger Sterl. "This is because the various charging characteristics of Fronius charging systems can be selected on the display and used to control the charging current."
Another argument in favour of the exclusive use of Fronius charging systems is that the Selectiva Plus 4050 and 2100 devices, which are designed for 48 V and 24 V batteries respectively, can also charge smaller batteries, since the charging voltage can be reduced to 2 V. Two types of Fronius battery charger are therefore all that VEDES needs to cover all its existing and future requirements. "Another plus is that our Austrian charging systems have not failed at all for years", added Rüdiger Sterl.
Central battery charging station
Towards the end of the shift, the drivers take their assigned ground conveyors for charging to the central charging station, where all the Selectiva Plus battery charging systems are located. As the devices are small and light in comparison to those using 50 Hz technology, they are barely noticeable among the racks that divide up the hall, which is fitted out in accordance with fire protection and ventilation requirements.
There is one unusual feature of the VEDES central charging station: as soon as the hall lighting is switched off at the end of the working day, the chargers are successively switched on in groups to prevent high peak currents. This is a throwback to the time when the old 50 Hz charging units were being used by Grundig. This feature is not needed for Fronius devices with Active Inverter Technology. As a result of significantly reduced power needs and the ability to program switch-on times for the battery charging systems via the display, companies are now able to reduce their peak current tariffs and avoid the extra expense of exceeding consumption limits.
"When you work with a partner like Fronius for more than a decade and consistently experience only the best with regard to technology, then you would understand why we remain loyal to this manufacturer and will continue to use battery charging systems from this Austrian specialist in the future," summarises Rainer Wild.
Fronius International GmbH
Froniusplatz 1, A-4600 Wels
Tel. +43 / (0)7242 / 241 6436
Fax +43 / (0)7242 / 241 95 2560