Written on December 10, 2015 at 3:25 pm
Glass manufacturer Saint-Gobain is seeing instant returns after upgrading to a high-efficiency Fronius charging system from Manbat.
When you look at a modern skyscraper, there’s a fair chance that its glass was created by Saint-Gobain. Over some 350 years, the company has grown from a Parisian mirror maker to one of the world’s leading flat-glass manufacturers, with customers across 24 countries.
At any one time, the company’s UK operation, in Eggborough, Yorkshire, has thousands of tonnes of industrial glass on site.
Awarded the titles of Britain’s Best Factory (2005) and Britain’s Best Processing Plant (2008), its heavy lifting is carried out by electric Hubtex loaders. With each truck weighing up to 40 tonnes fully laden, the fleet has a huge appetite for power – supplied by batteries measuring two metres square. To keep production moving around the clock, Saint-Gobain’s 16 charging bays are in constant use, making energy bills a critical cost centre.
Clearly, savings on battery and charging costs can quickly add up, so when Saint-Gobain’s materials handling supplier suggested a switch to high-frequency charging, facilities manager Richard Simpson was keen to take a close look at the figures, and explore all the options.
As well as the standard high-frequency chargers offered by the dealer, Saint-Gobain decided to trial the new Fronius Ri-charge technology recommended by the battery experts at Manbat Industrial Power Systems.
Richard took both chargers on a month’s trial, so that he could gauge the level of performance and savings Saint-Gobain could expect when stacked against the current setup.
When he recorded energy usage over the course of the week, the winner was clear.
60% saving – 16-month payback
“The standard high-frequency charger had achieved a reasonable saving – 65.9 kWh per charging cycle compared to our previous average of 107.2 kWh – but the Fronius was in another league,” recalls Richard.
“The consumption of 40.2 kWh per cycle meant we were saving over 60% compared to our old chargers.”
Although the Fronius chargers were the slightly more expensive option, the tests showed they could pay for themselves in around 16 months. And since all the charging stations have been converted to Fronius, the actual savings have been better still – suggesting the investment should turn a profit in just 67 weeks.