Plug Power’s first European full-site deployment at Prelodis was inaugurated on October 22, 2015. The project was captured by Supply Chain Magazine, here. The article has been translated into English below for your reading convenience.
Hydrogen-Powered Forklifts at Prelodis, a first in Europe: Supply Chain Magazine, October 21, 2015
Prelodis, logistics provider of fruits and vegetables, has opened a 10,000 m² distribution center in Saint-Cyr-en-Val near Orleans. (The project was announced in the April 23, 2015). The site, which aims to support the strong growth of the distributor in the north and west of France, has another peculiarity: it was designed to work with the carriages (frontal and trucks) powered by hydrogen. In this new building, there is no battery charge room, but instead a hydrogen filling dispenser that refuels the fuel cells in record time. While other sites have comparable carts (such as FM Logistic located in the same area), Prelodis is the only one in Europe to use only this technology. This project required more than 18 months of study in close collaboration with the manufacturer Jungheinrich who provided the 35 carriages to the park. “We were motivated by potential cost savings, ease of use, lack of battery charge room and also the enthusiasm to open a new site with innovative technology,” said Philippe Giroux, President of Prelodis . A passion shared by Alexander Abe, President of Jungheinrich France, which, in general, wants to respond to all the requests on energy: “As a manufacturer we are also an energy supplier. This is the case with conventional batteries, lithium-ion energy accumulators or fuel cells. Today almost all of our trucks can be equipped with this technology, even if it is currently in very specific conditions of use. ” Indeed, for this investment to be profitable, you need a large fleet of trucks daily subjected to intensive activity (eg 3×8), which then avoids many battery changes and save time in the execution of operations.
The industry is starting to talk about hydrogen fuel cells in Europe, however since 2008 the solution is already widespread in North America, such as Wal-Mart, but also in the automotive industry and agribusiness. In France, fuel cells met their first success and some manufacturers, such as Toyota and Crown at FM Logistic, have adapted their machines to accept this technology. At Prelodis it is HyPulsion, born from the association Axane, a subsidiary of Air Liquide and Plug Power, world leader in hydrogen fuel cells, which carried out the installation and provided the equipment. Previously the provider submitted the draft to the DREAL who approved. Then the fueling dispensing infrastructure had to be installed in the new logistics center, which is connected to hydrogen storage outside of the building: “This storage unit has been installed and is powered and maintained by Air Liquide,” says Luc Vandewalle, CEO of HyPulsion (and former Director Supplychain Air Liquide Welding). When the driver shows up at the dispenser, it takes 1-3 minutes to refuel. These fuel cells, in which combine hydrogen and oxygen from the air, generate electricity directly on board the trolley and that reject water. HyPulsion emphasizes the “green” side of the solution, but also its security aspect. Does this mean that the hydrogen fuel cell is the future technology that will replace the others? Under current conditions it seems that it is limited to large truck fleets installed on site large enough and consistent with safety rules. Investment remains important, but when the platform is designed from the outset to accommodate this equipment, and the customer takes into account the time savings realized by forklift drivers, space saving and cleanliness of technology, the solution really worth studying.