CJ Lang and Son Ltd has a deep rooted history within food supply starting in 1919 when Charles J Lang began to work for his uncle’s grocery store in St Andrews. Since then, they have grown considerably, becoming part of the SPAR group back in the 1970’s to becoming one of today’s largest independent Scottish companies. With family still being at the heart of the business, Mr C.G. Lang's daughter, Mrs Joan Scott-Adie, is the Life President of the company, with immediate members of her family as Non-Executive Directors.
The sole SPAR wholesaler for Scotland and part of the broader SPAR UK network, CJ Lang and Son Ltd employs over 2,000 employees based across their 100 company owned stores across Scotland, their 180,000 sq. ft. multi-temperature distribution centre in Dundee and head office also based in Dundee.
A busy operation, delivering between 300,000 and 400,000 cases per week across different temperature regimes requires a logistics operation of 3 shifts per day over 24 hours, 6 days a week and their volume of cases shipped per week fluctuates depending on the season. This makes the need for their fleet of 40 reach trucks, counter balance, assembly trucks, loading trucks and powered pallet trucks from Toyota and BT to be readily available at all times vital to the smooth operation of their logistics process. Some of the MHE also used secondary batteries to keep the vehicle running during the shift operations.
Modern trucks needed a modern, sustainable charging infrastructure
Having recently replaced their whole fleet of manual handling equipment to more modern equipment and technology, they found that their existing battery charging infrastructure, a mixture of older 50 Hz and High Frequency (HF) technology, was inadequate and inefficient for their latest MHE fleet. The existing battery chargers were also very large and needed a lot of space within their distribution centre.
CJ Lang and Son Ltd already have an established sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme so they were also looking for a battery charging solution that would fit these programmes in terms of reducing their carbon footprint and the impact on the environment as well as reductions in their energy usage and costs.
50 Hz and HF battery chargers have a very high level of energy loss when in use and are typically large in size, taking up valuable space in a warehouse. Batteries can often have problems working efficiently in low and freezing temperature zones, meaning CJ Lang and Son Ltd needed to use secondary back-up batteries which adds further costs to the operation. This is where Fronius’ intelligent chargers shine in these circumstances.
Adopting an intelligent and sustainable charging solution
Colin Chapman, Distribution Director of CJ Lang and Son Ltd began his search for a new battery charging solution but he didn’t have to look far. “I first heard about Fronius and made contact with them whilst attending the SPAR International LOGIT conference in China back in October 2019” says Colin, “Further to this, I also made contact with Fronius at the SPAR International Partnership forum in Amsterdam a month later. I liked how Fronius’ charging concept aligned to our MHE replacement strategy and CSR programme. We set up a trial and data capture unit in early 2020 with Andrew Wrigglesworth, Technical Sales Advisor and Ross Adams, National Sales Director, from Fronius UK and the results proved the concept”.
Working with the UK and Austrian teams at Fronius, the unique and innovative Selectiva 4.0 battery chargers were installed as a trial at the Dundee distribution centre. The intelligent Ri charging process of the Selectiva 4.0 battery chargers adapts individually to the condition of each battery, its state of charge and age of the batteries. This ensures a cooler, gentler and more energy efficient charge therefore making the batteries last longer so they do not need to be replaced as often. In order to cope with the different temperature zones at CJ Lang and Son Ltd the “temperature-controlled charging” option was installed. With this option the charging voltage is adapted according to the temperature of the battery, thereby providing sustainable protection and increasing the battery‘s service life. To show how efficient the system is, Fronius has calculated the long-term potential savings, such as cost savings and electricity costs, which can be achieved with the new technology. CO2 savings and reductions in other areas relating to sustainability can also be demonstrated.
“The energy efficiency and emissions reductions benefits were the main reasons for choosing the product alongside the quality of manufacturing and the design - the chargers are much smaller than our old units” Colin says. “Sales support and communication were also key, we felt like we were entering into a partnership and felt valued”.
Service that compliments the technology
The charging experts assisted CJ Lang and Son Ltd with the planning, analysis and project design phases and ensured the service and installation complied with all relevant safety aspects. “Andrew and Ross were excellent throughout and kept us up to speed at all stages of the process” Colin says “Andrew went the extra mile for us and visited the depot a number of times to help with preparation and installation. We were very impressed with the support and approach taken by the UK sales team”.
Summary of the challenges faced:
Looking towards the future
Having installed 37 Selectiva 4.0 battery chargers, CJ Lang and Son Ltd expect to reduce their CO2 emissions by 265,000 kg and reduce their battery charging energy costs and associated battery top up costs by around £100,000 (= 20%) in the next five years.
“Overall, our experience of dealing with Fronius was very good” Colin says, “I would recommend them and so far we are very pleased with the support and the product. In the future, we would potentially look to build on the partnership and understand what else we can do to work together on reducing our emissions”