HHLA and Gottwald develop battery-driven AGV

 12 Jun 2009 10.40am

HHLA Container Terminals GmbH (HHLA CT), a wholly owned subsidiary of Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA), and Gottwald Port Technology GmbH (Gottwald), a subsidiary of Demag Cranes AG, are working together to develop the first battery-driven AGV Automated Guided Vehicles for handling containers. Building on many mutually beneficial years of working together, HHLA CT and Gottwald have signed an agreement for this purpose. Testing of the prototype vehicle is due to begin at the HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) shortly.

By pursuing this joint step, the operator of the most advanced container terminal in the world has joined forces with the AGV systems pacesetter and technological leader for ports and terminals to make a sustainable contribution to environmental protection in maritime ports near urban areas. In order to meet current and future environmental requirements, the two companies are aiming to employ container handling equipment that produces zero exhaust emissions in ports and terminals.

Captain Heinrich Goller, Managing Director of HHLA Container Terminals GmbH, says: "Against a backdrop of growing concern about environmental issues in society, politics, households and industry, we, as terminal operators, are expected to take a more responsible stance in regard to the environment. We need to design our facilities to meet these obligations long term and increase our investment in zero exhaust-emissions technology. For cost-efficiency reasons, we also need to employ highly efficient and economical technology in view of the overall difficult economic situation and increasing fuel costs predicted long term.”

Dr. Mathias Dobner, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Technical Officer of Gottwald, comments on the recent development partnership between Gottwald and HHLA CT: "The Battery AGV is an important module in the handling
equipment being developed as part of Gottwald's Green Range. By implementing zero-emission, low-consumption and thus environmentally aware technologies, we aim to meet the requirements of our customers."

HHLA and Gottwald are linked by a technological partnership extending back many years, which began in 2000 with the planning phase of CTA. Gottwald supplied a turnkey AGV system including management and navigation software. Approximately 90 container transport vehicles make up the AGV fleet at CTA today. This partnership between HHLA and Gottwald ignited innovative ideas in 2006 when HHLA used diesel-electric AGVs at CTA for the first time. These vehicles make considerably less noise in operation than their predecessor, the diesel-hydraulic AGV. With the new vehicles, HHLA was also able to save 25% on fuel costs and reduce exhaust emissions significantly, a substantial contribution to environmental protection.

With the introduction of the Battery AGV, the two companies have initiated the next phase in their technological partnership. One of HHLA's modified diesel-electric AGVs, having undergone retrofitting for battery operation in the past few months, has passed extensive testing on Gottwald's test field with flying colours. To collect further experience in a real-life terminal situation, the modified vehicle has been transported to CTA where it will be integrated into the existing AGV fleet in Hamburg for more test runs and will operate alongside the productive AGVs.

"Even though the vehicle will not yet be in productive operation, we expect the tests to provide important information on the anticipated low noise emissions, the battery cell operating life and the AGV control system before we focus on battery cell charging management, the battery-change station and the actual automated battery-changing process," states Dr. Mathias Dobner, explaining the next steps in the development process.

  Container Handling