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Into the future with lithium-ion forklifts

The pet food manufacturer saturn petcare from Hattern in the Netherlands is taking the next important step towards sustainability with KION. When renewing its intralogistics fleet, all vehicles were equipped with lithium-ion batteries. A step that fits in perfectly with the company's philosophy.


There was great unanimity among the drivers of the pet food specialist. They were unanimously in favour of converting the forklift fleet to lithium-ion trucks. It was not only the handling of the STILL industrial trucks that convinced them, but also the overall package of quality and service and, last but not least, the CO² savings, which fit in perfectly with saturn petcare's philosophy and sustainability concept.

"The lower electricity consumption will save 30 tonnes of CO². This is fully in line with our sustainability concept," explains Wouter Heijink, Supply Chain Manager at saturn petcare.

Thanks to the widespread use of lithium-ion technology, the company benefits from the maintenance-free and clean operation of its vehicle fleet on a daily basis. The particularly high energy efficiency is particularly evident when compared to conventional lead-acid batteries, as the low power consumption means that internal processes can be sustainably optimised.

The long-awaited fleet changeover

The company would have liked to convert its fleet seven years ago. "But back then, the time was simply not yet ripe," explains Heijink. Many providers were not yet able to equip all models of their forklift trucks with the technology and experience first had to be gained. Only when the leasing contract expired was the time ripe. Saturn petcare tested various models from different suppliers and finally awarded STILL the contract for reach trucks, counterbalance trucks and high and low lift trucks with lithium-ion batteries.

How lithium-ion batteries work:

Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable batteries that are used in electronic devices such as mobile phones, laptops and electric vehicles. They consist of an anode (negative pole), a cathode (positive pole) and an electrolyte that separates the two poles.

When charging, the lithium ions flow from the cathode to the anode, and in the opposite direction when discharging. When charging, the lithium ions are stored in the anode; when discharging, they flow through the electrolyte to the cathode, generating an electric current.

New loading routines ensure optimised processes

The vehicles are used in two to three shifts every day and fit seamlessly into the processes at saturn petcare.

The specialist for private label dog and cat food belongs to heristo AG and has sites in Germany, the USA and the Netherlands. Canned wet food is produced at the Hattern plant. The plant is particularly known for its flexible production of small margins. In Bremen, on the other hand, saturn petcare produces the large containers. Here, purchased raw materials such as meat and fish are processed and filled according to recipe. Sterilisation and labelling then take place before the goods are repacked, palletised and dispatched to customers.

Handling the lithium-ion batteries initially took some getting used to for the drivers. "After the first experiences with empty batteries, the awareness of the benefits of intermediate charging grew," explains George Van Erven, Team Leader Material Handling. "During breaks and when the trucks are not used for a while, they are charged. This means they are ready for use throughout the day, even during the intensive early shift.