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Takes charging to another level

12 December 2012

Co-operative Food Retail Logistics called on EnerSys to help optimise space at its new distribution centre in County Durham, by minimising the area required for charging warehouse truck batteries. The solution was to bu

Co-operative Food Retail Logistics called on EnerSys to help optimise space at its new distribution centre in County Durham, by minimising the area required for charging warehouse truck batteries. The solution was to build a three-tier battery bank - with potential to go even higher - served by an electricpowered changing cart, believed to be the first of its type in the EU to work without hydraulics.

This innovative installation forms part of an advanced battery management system to meet Cooperative Food Retail Logistics' key objectives of best practice and sustainability. Sophisticated charging and allocation procedures, as well as remote diagnostic facilities, ensure optimum performance over an extensive projected working life for the batteries and warehouse trucks.

Co-operative Food Retail Logistics has a long-standing relationship with EnerSys and over 90% of the 2000+ batteries used across its 19 warehouses are Hawker Evolution units.With a gelled electrolyte, Hawker Evolution offers maintenance-free benefits because its sealed units require no topping up and there is no risk of spillage. A highly efficient valve-regulated recombination technology reduces gas emissions to a minimum, which makes Evolution particularly suitable for food distribution operations.

From the outset it was clear that the best way of minimising the charge area footprint was to create a bank of multiple tiers to accommodate the batteries on charge. Co-operative Food Retail Logistics successfully pioneered three-level banking at recent developments in Coventry and Thurrock.While the initial plan at Birtley was for a similar configuration, there was the potential for a fourth tier to cope with future growth. Both companies accepted that four-high could be beyond the performance of the existing Hawker Pro Series BBH bull handling equipment because its hydraulic systems were at their design limit. The only practical solution was for EnerSys to devise a new version of the BBH with fully electric capability to remove any potential restrictions. This completely new model is the first of its type delivered by EnerSys and is believed to be unique to any supplier in Europe.

Co-operative Food Retail Logistics was keen to build redundancy into the new system to ensure it could maintain continuous warehouse truck operations. The solution was simple and elegant with two identical banks, each with space for 42 batteries, arranged back-to-back with their own BBH. This means one of the systems can be taken off-line for maintenance while the other continues to supply charged batteries. An added advantage of this layout is that the central aisle running between the two banks allows engineers to check, monitor and maintain the chargers without entering truck operating areas. This promotes safety and ensures essential maintenance work can continue without disrupting normal warehouse operations.
 
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