E-mobility test pilots get under way on service duties

Field test with all-electric service vans

E-mobility test pilots get under way on service duties

Linde Material Handling launches the field testing of its Linde E service van, presented for the first time at the 2014 World of Material Handling. Based on the Fiat Ducato van, the fully equipped electric service vehicle was retrofitted with drive components from Linde electric forklift trucks and will in the future be used by Linde’s service organisation in large cities and urban agglomerations so as to contribute to reducing emissions in these densely populated areas. Another advantage of this electric vehicle is that it can still reach customer sites in order to carry out maintenance and repairs, even during times of air pollution-related driving restrictions. The field test will be scientifically monitored by the Department of Engineering, Design & Mechatronic Systems at the University of Applied Sciences in Munich. It is aimed at testing the vehicles’ suitability for use and acceptance by the drivers in order to more precisely define application possibilities and profiles and identify potential for further technical developments.

One of the e-service vans is in use in the field trial at Willenbrock Fördertechnik GmbH in Bremen. One of the e- service vans is in use in the field trial at Willenbrock Fördertechnik GmbH in Bremen. Some Willenbrock customers support the pilot project and allow the vehicle to be loaded on their premises during service.

„Availability of spare parts and speed of service are the main driving forces for customer satisfaction,” says Massimiliano Sammartano, Vice President Customer Services, Marketing & Operations at Linde Material Handling. “We are constantly working to improve our service performance and if our service technicians can get to the customer even at times when vehicles with internal combustion engines are not allowed on the road, then this is bound to significantly increase the level of customer satisfaction.” The fact that these electrically-powered vehicles do not produce any harmful emissions and generate less noise represents just two of the advantages. As Maik Manthey, who, inter alia, heads the company’s Electronic Systems & Drives division (ES&D), points out: “Many customers in a wide range of sectors rely on our expertise to electrify their mobile machines or vehicles and thus make them more environmentally-friendly. Hence it is only logical that we use this technology ourselves in order to make our own processes more sustainable.”
 
The field test vehicles are being used in the Ruhr area, in Bremen and in London, so as to cover a wide range of conceivable usage profiles. Another service vans is destined for test drives and trials for the scientists at the university and the ES&D engineers. “Apart from finding out if the E-Service Van is generally suitable for use as a service vehicle, we also want to learn how and where the vehicles can actually be used efficiently,” explains Prof. Dr. Vahid Salehi from the University of Applied Sciences in Munich. “The perception of the driver plays a particularly important role in this evaluation, so of course they need to know how to use their vehicles properly.”

In spring, the service technicians and service managers of Linde’s service organisation in the UK as well as of the participating Linde distributors Pahlke and Willenbrock had received thorough training on the drive system of the Linde E-Service Van. The engineers of ES&D and retrofitting company ReeVOLT GmbH instructed the training participants in the handling, drive characteristics and load behaviour of the vehicle. This was followed by an initial test drive around the factory premises of Linde Material Handling in Aschaffenburg Nilkheim. Prof. Dr. Vahid Salehi presented the accompanying research program and explained the structure and contents of the questionnaires that the service technicians will be asked to fill in before, during and after the field test. Three of the test vehicles are equipped with data loggers that are capturing relevant technical data during usage as well as important information regarding the performance of the vehicles, e.g. during use in extreme cold or heat.

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