Demag Cranes and consortium partners develop application for battery-powered drive trains

Düsseldorf,   08. November 2010

  • Two prototype battery-powered container transport vehicles are tested over several months under real deployment conditions
  • Fully-automated integrated battery-change station
  • Sustainable reduction in environmental pollution coupled with cost cuts thanks to green technology

Gottwald Port Technology GmbH (Gottwald), a subsidiary of Demag Cranes AG, has joined with one of its customers, Hamburger Hafen & Logistik AG (HHLA), the Institute for Vehicle Technology (ika) at the RWTH Aachen University and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg GmbH (ifeu) to form a consortium to continue research into battery-powered drive trains for automated container transport vehicles (AGVs). The pilot project is to be trialled at HHLA's Container Terminal Altenwerder, in Hamburg in North Germany. A crucial component in HHLA's climate protection strategy is innovative, energy-efficient drive systems for cargo handling. More than half the greenhouse emissions generated in handling cargo come from the diesel engines used. HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder is already considered to be one of the most modern, low-emission terminals in the world due to the high degree of automation implemented there.

New tests with fully-automated battery-changing and recharging station

The consortium has already received confirmation of funding from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) for the project with a view to providing electrical mobility capability in commercial transport. The superordinate aim of the project is to continue to develop and trial a battery-powered drive train for AGVs, including a fully-automated battery-changing and recharging station. The deciding factor that led to this follow-up project was the successful test phase of a first prototype in a fleet environment at HHLA's terminal in Altenwerder, in Hamburg. Based on the experience gathered during the first test phase, two battery-driven AGVs are now to be built and will next year be put to work for several months at the HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder under real operating conditions.

Around-the-clock working requires excellent battery availability

The working conditions in a container terminal require the transport vehicles to be on call at a moment's notice, so the batteries will need changing regularly, despite their long duty cycles of up to twelve hours. However, long downtimes for recharging the batteries are not acceptable. As a result, the working conditions for the Battery AGV make highly specific demands on a battery-changing system which would not be possible with conventional battery-changing stations. For this reason, one aspect of the work in the consortium is to develop and build a completely new, fully-automated battery-changing station.

Green technologies take a load off the environment and cut costs in a sustainable manner

While current and future generations of combustion engines have to conform to corresponding exhaust emission standards, the Battery AGV is a vehicle that generates no exhaust gas emissions and, as a result, completely avoids the issue of local exhaust gas emissions including CO2. In addition, since there is no diesel engine any more, noise emissions are greatly reduced.
In contrast to alternative transport vehicles fitted with combustion engines, the Battery AGV can be run on electricity from renewable energy sources, which means that its overall CO2 rating is, in fact, zero. Using electricity from the existing mains grid in Germany today, which already includes power from renewable sources, means that the operators of battery-powered AGVs can already benefit from a reduction in CO2 emissions of thirty per cent.
Apart from the ecological benefits, the Battery AGV opens up a wide range of additional potential cost savings. "The initially higher investments in the battery-changing station, batteries and chargers are more than offset by the much reduced costs of energy and maintenance," emphasises Thomas H. Hagen, Member of the Management Board of Demag Cranes AG responsible for operations.

Distribution of tasks within the consortium

Demag Cranes is coordinating the consortium project and is responsible for developing and building two Gottwald Battery AGVs and the battery-changing station. HHLA is supporting the development work and will integrate the new technology in its existing fleet of AGVs. The ika institute will be supporting the technical design of the drive train with the assistance of a detailed simulation model which will take the entire battery-powered drive train including the battery and the relevant main and ancillary modules into consideration. In addition, the ifeu institute will deliver intensive fundamental research which will enable the Battery AGV to be assessed from an ecological point of view. Furthermore, the partners will assess ways to control the timing of the charging processes intelligently to level off the overall load on the harbour mains and optimise the use of renewable energy sources (for example, if wind energy is currently experiencing over-capacity).

Consolidating Germany's position as technological leader

The project is part of a programme subsidised by the German Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) to promote electrical mobility in commercial vehicles and has received funding of nearly 1.2 m euros. The total funding available to the project up to the end of 2011 comes to around 3 m euros. One of the aims of the electrical mobility programme is to consolidate and expand Germany's technological leadership in this field.

About Demag Cranes AG

The Demag Cranes Group is one of the world's leading suppliers of industrial cranes and crane components, harbour cranes and terminal automation technology. Services, in particular maintenance and refurbishment services, are another key element of the Group’s business activities. The Group is divided into the business segments Industrial Cranes, Port Technology and Services and has strong and well-established Demag and Gottwald brands. Demag Cranes sees its core competence in the development and construction of technically sophisticated cranes and hoists as well as automated transport and logistics systems in ports and terminals, the provision of services for these products and the manufacture of high-quality components.

As a global supplier, Demag Cranes manufactures in 16 countries on five continents and operates a worldwide sales and service network that is present in over 60 countries through its subsidiaries, representative offices and a joint venture. In financial year 2008/2009, the Group, with its 5,934 employees, generated revenue of EUR 1,047.6 million. Since the end of June 2006, the Demag Cranes share (WKN: DCAG01) has been listed in the Prime Standard of the German Stock Exchange and is traded on various indices including the MDAX®.

Demag Cranes. We Can Handle It.


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