A heavy truck with an electric drive—will that work? This was the question asked by Asset VRS, a leading provider and manufacturer of vehicle restraint systems in the UK. But it didn’t take long for the Linde E160, with its Li-ION battery, to demonstrate its considerable advantages.
It is the largest Asset VRS site in the United Kingdom. At a 57,000-square meter site in Newport, Wales—just a few minutes’ drive to the east of the capital Cardiff—the company stores special highway safety barriers and prepares them for delivery. The components can be up to 12 meters long and are by no means lightweight. Each transport process involves placing an imposing 14.5 tons on the truck forks. “We also supply concrete elements that weigh between 4 and 8.5 tons,” explains site manager Gavin Teague. Until now they had succeeded in doing this using diesel-powered trucks, including those with a load capacity of 10 and 16 tons.
Ultimately the company wants to gradually reduce its CO2 emissions, and is aiming to make its business more environmentally friendly as a whole. Among other things, there are plans to install wind turbines and solar panels at the site in order to generate their own green electricity. For the people in charge, it was fairly obvious that they also needed to explore new avenues in terms of logistics. And these led Asset VRS directly to the Linde E160 with Li-ION battery. “We were really very excited, but admittedly also a bit skeptical about whether the truck would be up to our tough transport tasks,” recalls site manager Gavin Teague.
Performance Maintained, Safety Level Increases
The Asset VRS logistics experts had their first “aha” moment when the new truck was delivered. “The size of the electric forklift truck surprised us all, because it was shorter than the familiar IC trucks,” explains Gavin Teague. Nonetheless, even after the first few runs, it was clear that the electric power pack could easily match the performance of its diesel counterparts, and with increased safety: “The driver protection cab with all-round glazing offers considerably improved visibility. Thanks to the specially shaped counterweight, it also possible to see the rear of the truck,” reports Teague. “At the same time, the electric forklift truck works so quietly that we can talk to each other without any problems. This makes communication much quicker and clearer because we don’t have to rely on hand gestures like with the IC trucks.”
Improved Concentration for Longer Deployments
It goes without saying that the low noise level is also popular with Teague’s colleagues. They no longer need ear protection, and the reduced vibrations mean that longer deployments are less taxing. “It’s clearly a big win in terms of health and safety,” confirms Teague, going on to add, “After three months of test operations, I can report that our operating processes were improved from day one and there have been no problems or faults.”
And what about charging the battery?
“I admit that we were initially a bit nervous about how often the truck needed to be charged and carried out regular intermediate charging,” the site manager states for the record. “However, we quickly realized that the charge is easily sufficient for an entire shift, i.e., for around 10 hours. Sometimes the battery is still at 50 percent charge at the end of the day. The charging process itself is very simple. At the end of the shift, the truck is simply connected to the charger, and the next morning it is fully charged and ready to use.”
Asset VRS is a leading supplier and manufacturer of vehicle restraint systems in the UK. The company is part of the Hill & Smith Group and offers comprehensive installation services for temporary and permanent highway safety barriers from strategically located depots in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The main depot is in the docks area of the Welsh city of Newport, with further locations in Southampton, Sevenoaks (Kent), Nottingham, Wigan, Glasgow, Belfast and Dublin.