H. & J. Brüggen KG converts its fleet to modern li-ion forklift trucks

Flagship project successfully implemented

Challenge: Brüggen wants to adopt a consistent approach to electromobility, exploit efficiency potentials and reduce operating costs.

Solution: Following extensive consultation and in-depth usage analysis from STILL, 66 new counterbalanced forklift trucks and low lift and high lift pallet trucks are now in use at the company.

Products: Counterbalanced forklift trucks and low lift and high lift pallet trucks with li-ion technology

In April 2016, industrial truck manufacturer STILL implemented a pioneering project focused on lithium-ion (li-ion) technology. Food producer Brüggen was the first major customer to convert its fleet to li-ion technology. A total of 66 new counterbalanced forklift trucks and low lift and high lift pallet trucks are in use.

With the successful implementation of this major project with li-ion industrial trucks, Hamburg-based STILL underlined its aspiration to take a consistent approach to electromobility and offer 90 percent of its trucks with li-ion batteries by 2017. An initial assessment following the completion of the project shows that, by introducing li-ion trucks following extensive consultation and in-depth usage analysis from STILL, Brüggen has been able to exploit its efficiency potential without compromise and significantly reduce its operating costs.

Increasing efficiency and reducing costs

H. & J. Brüggen KG is one of Europe’s market leaders for muesli mixtures and muesli bars. The Lübeck-based family company also produces cornflakes and cereals and supplies the food industry with raw goods and semi-finished products. The products, which include muesli, muesli bars, cornflakes, oat flakes and cereals, are produced on behalf of retail chains in Germany and abroad, as well as being sold under Brüggen’s own brand name. This means that, as well as delivering high-quality products, sophisticated logistics processes are also a key factor in the business remaining competitive. In the previous year, Brüggen decided to replace the previous forklift truck fleet. The main objectives of the extensive project were calculable costs thanks to leasing and service packages, high availability combined with maximum deployment flexibility, reduced battery charging times, and an online fleet management tool. Intralogistics specialist STILL impressed during the tender process with its li-ion trucks, premium ‘one-stop-shop’ service and a leasing version. Every six years the forklift trucks are replaced by new trucks and repairs by customer service are included in the leasing rates.

The introduction of li-ion trucks meant that the new truck fleet could be reduced in size by 23.8 percent. “Everything that can be moved by pallet at Brüggen, has been switched over since May,” explains Marek Schröder, Head of Logistics/Head of Purchasing – Non Food. Detailed advance checks were performed in all departments to see which requirements the new trucks needed to meet. In line with these requirements, STILL supplied trucks in various designs adapted to the respective application. As part of this process, the production assistants were able to view the various models directly at STILL and select appropriate features and equipment. Thirty-nine different models with varying lifting heights, fork lengths and battery capacities are currently in use. However, what set this project apart was the switch from lead-acid to li-ion batteries. The new battery system offers Brüggen many advantages: The li-ion battery’s higher performance is particularly well suited for applications where lead-acid batteries reached their limits. These include applications with high power requirements, or multiple-shift operation during which the battery is changed. The li-ion battery contains twice the amount of energy but with the same construction volume, which spares the effort and infrastructure required to change the battery. In addition to this, since the li-ion battery does not require maintenance work relating to battery acid, unlike the lead-acid batteries, it is maintenance-free, giving the customer peace of mind. Above all else, the switch makes employees’ work easier and offers them more convenience. Instead of changing the replacement batteries and connecting them to charging stations, charging them for more than six hours and filling them with distilled water, all users need to do now is charge them conveniently via the eternally accessible charge connector. These factors increase the availability of the trucks and have a tangible effect on Brüggen’s operating costs. Unlike lead-acid batteries, interim charging is an option regardless of the charge status. “We have some trucks in 24-hour operation and rely on them in logistics and production. The new batteries can also be charged at any time for just a couple of minutes, just like a mobile phone.” This means that employees can now charge their battery at any time during breaks. Two-thirds of the charging capacity is then available again after just 40 minutes. With around 2500 possible charging cycles, the li-ion battery can be charged twice as often as a conventional lead-acid battery. There are no negative memory effects with a li-ion battery. This groundbreaking technology is also setting new standards with regard to safety. Every battery cell is monitored in real time, thus enabling an extremely accurate discharge indicator, which allows particularly efficient utilisation of output.

Increased reliability with STILL FleetManager

The new trucks are also connected to a modern fleet management tool. All trucks are also equipped with a SIM card, similar to a mobile phone. Before use, employees must log in and check if there is a fault on the truck. “In the past, we had big problems with damage to the trucks. The costs for repairs and defective goods were high,” explains Marek Schröder. “Even for the new trucks, impact damage is not covered by customer service. Having individual access authorisation now ensures that only trained employees can work with the trucks.” If an accident happens, the trucks are automatically switched into creep mode. Only once the incident has been reported is the truck released again. “There is no points system, and STILL FleetManager is also not intended to be a control instrument. It’s about safety. Ultimately, industrial trucks can move pretty quickly,” says Schröder. The clear assignment of the trucks also ensures that the trucks required in the departments are actually available when needed. The electronically transferred data can be read directly by customer service in the event of a fault, enabling fast repair. 

“The successful completion of the project and the fact that Brüggen is so satisfied with our li-ion technology and approach to consultation are confirmation that we are doing things the right way,” says Holger Brandt, Head of Sales, Germany at STILL GmbH. “Our focus for all projects is always on the best solution for the customer’s respective individual application. We are finding that more and more users from logistics and industry appreciate the advantages of li-ion batteries over conventional lead-acid batteries.”