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Supermarket chain chooses charging technology
15 June 2019
The Italian supermarket chain Alì has plans to expand significantly in the future. For this reason, the company opened up a new logistics centre, not far from the company headquarters in Padua. A fleet of more than 350 electric forklift trucks handles the internal transport of goods.
Ali chose to power their fleet using battery charging technology from Fronius, which has played a significant role in the success of the project and ensuring a reliable logistics operation. As well as Selectiva devices complete with the energy-efficient and gentle Ri charging process, the centre has also been equipped with the intelligent Cool Battery Guide Easy management system, which Alì uses to optimise the utilisation of its battery pool and maximise the availability of the fleet while keeping the ongoing operating costs as low as possible.
The Italian supermarket chain Alì has a very straightforward recipe for success – quality, consumer-friendliness and providing the best service for every customer. The company was founded around 50 years ago by Francesco Canella and is today one of the leading food retailers in northern Italy. Alì provides its customers with high-quality, fresh products from selected, trusted suppliers in more than 110 stores across Veneto and the Province of Ferrara. The supermarket chain employs around 3,500 people – a number that is continually growing as part of the Alì Group’s expansion strategy.
New location impresses with efficiency and sustainability
In order to secure its own long-term growth, the company has invested in a new logistics centre. The centre, which has a footprint of 30,000 square metres, is located just one kilometre away from the company headquarters and has space for more than 40,000 pallets. The newly completed and commissioned logistics centre means that Alì can now ship more goods to its stores. In line with the company’s policy of sustainability, Alì transports its goods using a fleet consisting entirely of electric forklift trucks. “Social responsibility and environmental protection are particularly important to our company,” says General Director Paolo Michelotto. “That’s why our logistics centre was designed with the latest standards in energy efficiency and sustainability in mind.”
More than 350 forklift trucks from manufacturer Toyota Material Handling maintain fast, quiet and emission-free material flows in the logistics centre. They are part of a five-year rental package that comes with a full-service contract. This also includes the traction batteries that supply the forklift trucks with energy. The logistics centre operates six days a week, from 6am to 10pm, in two shifts. This set-up requires the use of back-up batteries, so that the forklift trucks can continue to be used while the empty batteries are charged. “This increases our productivity and prevents batteries failing prematurely,” explains Luca Canola, Project Manager at Alì.
Finding the right battery is simple with the Cool Battery Guide Easy
In order to ensure that the charge carriers are efficiently and reliably supplied with energy, the company chose to use innovative battery charging technology from Fronius on the recommendation of Cami2 S.r.l., sales partner of Toyota, who maintains the entire intralogistics system. The specialist also installed the Cool Battery Guide Easy information and management system for Alì. This system improves the utilisation of the battery pool significantly. A control unit processes the data from the individual chargers and uses a blue LED strip on the device to show which battery has been fully charged the longest and is therefore the coolest. “In this way, our employees are intuitively guided to the right battery,” confirms Canola. “This prevents some batteries being used continuously and others being used less often. Using all of the batteries equally ensures that they maintain their capacity for as long as possible.” This is also beneficial for the distributor, Toyota, who provide the rental devices, as it means that the expensive charge carriers require less maintenance work and need to be replaced less often.
Saving energy and protecting batteries during charging
The battery charging room is equipped with a total of 44 Selectiva chargers with power ratings of 2kW and 8kW. Thanks to the Ri charging process developed by Fronius, these are particularly frugal in their power consumption and are gentle on the batteries. “Conventional processes often lead to overcharging, which causes the battery to overheat,” explains Davide Miotello, National Sales Manager at Fronius Italia. “This has a negative effect on both the capacity and the service life of the battery – the Ri charging process therefore helps to avoid high maintenance costs and low fleet availability.”
With conventional battery charging systems, a significant amount of energy is lost as heat during the charging process, leading to considerable energy and economic losses. However, with the Ri charging process, the modulation of the charging current means it is perfectly adapted to the effective inner resistance and therefore the capacity, the age and the state of charge of the battery. “This reduces harmful overcharging to a minimum,” summarises Miotello. “This increases the service life of the battery by approximately 20 percent, maintenance costs are reduced by approximately 50 percent and the user can save up to 30 percent in energy.”
“Incorrect usage of the batteries, differing loads from forklift truck to forklift truck and overheating during the charging process are the biggest challenges facing charge carriers,” explains Miotello. “By using the Selectiva chargers in conjunction with the Cool Battery Guide Easy, we have been able to minimise these factors considerably – this ensures a high level of forklift truck availability while maintaining low operating costs.”