The fresh smell of wood fills the air, bright, warm light beams down from the ceiling and noise is at a pleasantly low level. A visit to logistics expert Schachinger’s LT1 warehouse reveals that there is something special about this building. Constructed to expand the company site in Hörsching, Upper Austria in 2013, the building is made entirely out of wood and is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. A high-bay warehouse, some 14 metres tall, provides space for roughly 20,000 pallets and around 400 tonnes of goods are loaded each day. Despite these dimensions, the logistics building almost feels homely, providing a healthy workplace for its 70 employees.
“The LT1 warehouse meets all passive house requirements,” reports Max Schachinger, Managing Partner and the third generation to lead the family-owned enterprise. “It wasn’t about achieving the lowest possible construction costs, but rather about establishing a cost-effective solution over the total life cycle of the building.” Not only does this manifest itself in the working environment, but the three-time certified logistics building also impresses with its high energy efficiency and low CO2 values. Schachinger uses low-energy LED lighting, while heating and cooling are achieved exclusively using groundwater. The company has already been presented with several awards for this innovative building design.
The pallet warehouse covering almost 10,000 square metres is used mainly for storing food. Schachinger specialises in innovative industry logistics, offering manufacturers and wholesalers all over Austria a wide range of services for the transport and storage of goods. The Hörsching site is both the headquarters and the company’s largest logistics centre, making it the second largest private logistics park in Austria. A total of 50,000 pallet storage locations are spread across several buildings - the LT1 warehouse being the newest and most modern.
Several charging stations are spread across the site, which forklift truck drivers can use to replace empty batteries in just a few minutes. This is also the case in the LT1 warehouse: a total of 49 Selectiva devices (for a mains voltage of 230 V or 400 V) from Austrian charging technology specialist Fronius are available for the different types of battery from brands EnerSys-Hawker, Jungheinrich and Banner. These devices are flexible and can charge all traction batteries with a voltage of up to 80 volts - extremely gently, reliably and efficiently.
Leopold Grammerstätter, Austria Sales Manager for Battery Charging Systems at Fronius, reveals the secret behind these devices: Active Inverter Technology and the new Ri charging process developed by Fronius. “The charging process adapts to the requirements of each battery according to the age, temperature and state of charge of the battery. Every single charging cycle is therefore unique and has its own characteristic.” This minimises losses at the start of the charging process and during the recharging phase, ensuring ultra-cool and gentle charging that significantly increases the service life of the traction batteries. The Selectiva devices are also extremely energy efficient. “With a total efficiency of up to 84 percent, this is roughly 30 percent higher than conventional 50 Hz charging technology,” explains Grammerstätter. “This reduces energy consumption and CO2 emissions, thereby lowering the cost of the entire forklift truck fleet.”
The availability of the batteries - and therefore the forklift trucks - has also increased thanks to innovative charging technology from Fronius. “Before we began using these devices, we had to carry out frequent opportunity charges during a shift,” recalls Gerhard Gillmair, Warehouse Manager at Schachinger. “This took a lot of time and energy and was of little benefit.” However, this is no longer necessary. Thanks to the gentle, tailored charging process, the batteries provide sufficient power for a complete shift, require considerably less maintenance and rarely need replacing. “This also benefits us financially, since battery damage is not covered by the leasing contract,” adds Gillmair.
Fronius has also installed the Cool Battery Guide Premium information and management system for Schachinger. This system optimises utilisation of the battery pool, intuitively guiding the forklift truck driver to the battery that has been fully charged for the longest and is therefore the coolest. Gillmair explains the procedure: “Our drivers are assigned their own personal forklift truck, which has its own ID card with a barcode on it. When an employee brings the forklift truck to the charging station, the barcode is scanned. The system recognises the type of traction battery required, and a monitor and a green LED strip on the relevant battery charging system show the driver which battery of this type must be used next. If the wrong battery is taken, an alarm signal sounds.” This ensures that all batteries are used with the same frequency and have sufficient time to cool down, thus dramatically increasing the service life.
The Cool Battery Guide Premium also allows the user to continually monitor and optimise the charging process. The system automatically records the relevant data, analyses the charging cycles and logs errors, making battery charging even safer, more reliable and more efficient. “The user can evaluate the recorded data themselves or request support from our experts by granting us remote access,” says Fronius specialist Grammerstätter. The charging technology expert also has a site in Wels just a few kilometres away. “If required, we can be on the premises within minutes,” emphasises Grammerstätter. This high service quality is another reason why Schachinger chose Fronius.
Managing Director Max Schachinger is impressed by our innovative charging technology: “The savings with regard to energy consumption are enormous compared to our previous battery charging systems,” he explains. “The Fronius system fits in perfectly with our plans to increase sustainability and efficiency.” The fact that the logistics company can now avoid opportunity charging during shifts will also save valuable time. “The Cool Battery Guide Premium prevents errors when selecting the right battery,” adds Warehouse Manager Gillmair. “This makes life easier for our drivers and ensures that we get more use out of our batteries.” In order to make its intralogistics operations self-sufficient in the future, Schachinger has just installed a huge photovoltaics system on the roof of the warehouse to cover its energy requirements. The inverters are also from Fronius: “This wasn’t a difficult decision considering the success we have had with the charging technology,” smiles Schachinger.