Viennese brewery Ottakringer uses battery charging technology from Fronius
Wels, 18.07.2019 – Ottakringer is the oldest brewery in Vienna – and its beer is famous far beyond the city limits. As well as maintaining the highest standards in quality, the brand caters for almost every taste with over 20 types of beer. Its beer is brewed right in the heart of the Austrian capital city. To ensure that all processes run smoothly, one of the things Ottakringer relies on is its electric forklift trucks, as well as Fronius charging technology and expertise. When it came to equipping the new charging station for forklift trucks, two requirements were paramount: the station needed to comply with current safety standards and be more energy efficient than the existing infrastructure. Fronius has supplied twelve Selectiva battery charging systems.
Over 540,000 hectolitres of beer leave the tanks of the Ottakringer brewery in Vienna every year. These include classic types such as Helles, Dunkles, Bock beer and lager. But the more unusual flavours, such as mango splash, lemon & mint or the Ottarocker festival beer are also popular with customers. Particularly during the warmer months of the year, employees often work a three-shift pattern to meet the high demand. The beer is mainly sold in cans – these account for 80% of turnover. Ottakringer was founded in Vienna in 1837. The medium-sized family business is the last major Viennese brewery and, with a market share of 6%, it also one of the few remaining large independent breweries in Austria. Today, Ottakringer employs around 150 people and generates an annual turnover of 81 million euros. Although the traditional brewer produces more than 20 different beers, it is more than just the variety in the range that its customers value: they also love the events held at the brewery’s premises. With over 200,000 visitors and more than 5,000 events each year, this concept has developed into a core feature of Viennese city life.
New charging station: standards-compliant and featuring powerful technology
During peak periods, up to 60 lorries a day are loaded up with beer in Vienna. The covered storage area spreads over 10,000 square metres, meaning that seamless logistics processes are required to make sure that deliveries arrive with customers on time. To transport the pallets of beer cans as efficiently as possible from A to B, Ottakringer relies on twelve electric forklift trucks manufactured by Still. When it came to selecting the charging technology, Ottakringer managers quickly decided on solutions from Fronius. Ottakringer has already had good experiences with the Austrian battery charging specialists in the past. Back in the summer of 2015, Ottakringer kitted out its subsidiary Trinkservice GmbH (which specialises in warehousing and transport services) with Fronius battery charging systems. Once again, the decision to opt for battery charging technology from Fronius had not been difficult. Ottakringer has been operating twelve Selectiva battery charging systems since the autumn of 2017. However, the primary objective was to make sure that strict standards were met when equipping the charging station. “For us it was important that the new charging station met all the applicable standards right from the start,” explains Lukas Gröbl, technical project manager at Ottakringer. “That’s why we were looking for a battery charging technology supplier to do more than just win us over with its technology, but to also offer comprehensive advice and support on all aspects concerning safety rules and regulations. Fronius scores highly here across the board.”
“It’s common for customers to contact us because they want to equip their battery charging rooms in line with the relevant standards and they need our help,” explains Alexander Thier, Sales Manager for Austria at Fronius. “They’re not always aware of all the standards and regulations and often lack the know-how to implement these requirements in practice. That’s why we’re always there to offer support.” A dry, frost-free and cool environment is required for example, as well as sufficient ventilation and measures to prevent fires and explosions. Furthermore, the minimum distances between the individual charging stations and battery charging systems must be observed, and a safe distance must be kept from flammable or explosive storage areas. Notices and safety symbols must also be used, such as information, warning and prohibition signs. “We designed the Ottakringer charging station so that it would meet all the criteria for TÜV certification right from the start,” explains Thier. “Along with an insulated, conductive and robust flooring, markings and adherence to minimum distances, we have also placed the charging station in a location that it’s easily accessible and enjoys optimum ventilation.”
Start/Stop function minimises the risk of explosion
An important function for the safety of the entire station is the external start-stop mechanism on the battery charging systems. With the help of these features, Ottakringer employees can easily connect up and disconnect the forklifts without having to change any settings on the device. The start/stop function also includes a pilot contact in the charging plug to prevent sparking in case an employee interrupts the charging process by prematurely pulling out the plug. This means that the risk of an explosion caused by the oxyhydrogen produced during charging is as good as eliminated. Gröbl continues: “Previously, our battery charging systems had been spread across the entire site. Now we have just one central charging station where our staff can charge the forklift trucks overnight. This saves a lot of space, which we can put to better use as storage areas.”
Furthermore, the new Selectiva battery charging systems are equipped with the Ri charging process. While conventional charging processes follow a fixed characteristic, the Fronius solution is dependent on the age, temperature and condition of the battery. Users can flexibly charge batteries with different voltages and capacities – always with an individual characteristic. “The battery charging systems measure the effective inner resistance (Ri) of the connected battery and adapt the charging curve accordingly. This means that almost no overcharging takes place and the batteries are charged significantly more gently and also more economically,” says Thier, explaining the advantages of the technology. Furthermore, this new technology extends the service life of the traction batteries, lowering the energy consumption as well as CO2 emissions and optimising the availability of the forklift truck fleet.
Expansion of the station with Fronius charging technology has already been planned
Lucas Gröbl is also particularly pleased with the commissioning of the new station. “It only took a day to complete the installation – and that was without any interruptions to our ongoing business operations. The chargers are also incredibly easy to use. Our employees only needed a short introduction and then they were easily able to navigate their way around the new technology.” And if anything goes wrong, Fronius can be on site in no time. Furthermore, the station meets all applicable standards and safety requirements and is TÜV-certified. Ottakringer is already planning its next expansion: “In order to improve the availability of our fleet, we also plan to use back-up batteries in the future,” explains Gröbl. “When we do that, we will of course turn to Fronius once again.”