Benning Power Electronics (UK) Ltd is a byword in industry for designing, manufacturing, delivering, installing and servicing world-class solutions for powering communications and industrial equipment, including materials handling equipment. Benning has over 60 years’ experience in power conversion, and has a long standing reputation for providing highly reliable solutions with unsurpassed support.
As the leader in innovative battery charging solutions, Benning was the first company to introduce the now well known High Frequency battery charging technology into the Materials Handling Equipment market, using the existing technology from its telecoms business. HF chargers today account for 70% of the market, and this is increasing, driven by the need from end users for efficiency and lower carbon footprint. However despite the clear advantages unfortunately HF technology has also been hitherto known for poor reliability, and industry figures show some 33% of all HF chargers fail within three years, so Benning have stepped in to address the problem.
After two years in development, Benning successfully launched its new Belatron HF charger at IMHX in November last year. Utilising new technology, Benning are producing a product with a ten-year design life, resulting in significant reductions in truck down and cost and increases in happy customers. The critical point is that Benning have cut out the incidence of power circuit board failure due to dust and corrosive air, and so increased the HF technology’s reliability. The result? A charging technology with the potential to benefit everyone in industry who works with electric-powered fork lifts and needs to charge them. The potential benefits of Benning’s breakthrough are huge: the trick is how to get the message to the end users working with trucks supplied on lease schemes by the truck manufacturers, and also involving the OEMs and the battery suppliers so that everybody comes out winning.
Jason Mander, Sales Director – Traction Products at Benning Power Electronics (UK) Ltd, spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.
Warehouse & Logistics News – Jason, when did you become Sales Director for Traction Power at Benning Power Electronics UK? What were you doing before that? Have you always been in this sector?
My Sales Director role started in January this year after 12 months with Benning developing a market strategy, with clear objectives to increase our brand awareness within the UK market. Before Benning, I had a break from the industry for two years, enjoying the fruits of our family-owned business. I have been in the industry since 1995, starting with Oldham Batteries, before enjoying 10 years with Hoppecke UK.
WLN – What does your role as Sales Director – Traction Products cover?
My role takes in the development of the brand through our multiple supply channels, and also creating an increased awareness of Benning in the UK outside of our supply chain. My product responsibility is for traction chargers, DC convertors and management systems for the material handling and cleaning machine market.
WLN – Are you personally involved in developing Benning’s tailored battery charging solutions for customers in the warehouse & logistics sector?
The development of product for all industries is through our main plant and head office in Bocholt, Germany. The local markets play a major role in identifying customer requirements where Benning are able to tailor products to suit specific needs.
WLN – What other markets does Benning enter for power solutions?
Our UK activities are centred around the Traction division (MHE) and the Industrial markets. Benning play a major role in the telecoms and UPS markets globally, with the UK contributing significantly to this. Our main market strengths are in stand by power, telecoms, European network service and Traction, of course.
WLN – How do people with fork truck fleets get to use your chargers?
In the rest of Europe Benning supplies chargers directly to the truck suppliers and end users, but the UK is very different, and so we must work within the parameters of our local market. The typical model is for end users operating large MHE fleets to lease trucks for five years, have the battery companies support them with a motive power supply full service package with a five year warranty, and supply Benning chargers as part of that package. This means the quality spotlight isn’t necessarily on the charger. A full service package is well and good in many respects, as it means there’s no need for the end user to go elsewhere for their material handling needs, but it does mean they probably won’t have access to our technology, and could well, and do miss out on the performance and efficiency benefits.
WLN – Do you supply battery chargers to the major battery companies in the UK?
Yes, we do.
WLN – So what can people who want to benefit from HF technology do?
In order to give end users and material handling providers the benefit of our technology, we must supply our chargers through battery manufacturers and distributors, and in turn they supply them to the market. Through brand awareness, our objective is to convert the end users to the benefits of our chargers, and then we will see specification through the supply chain. The new HF technology from Benning offers unique benefits to MHE fleets and end users. The end user will see significant savings in utility costs and labour time for maintenance of product, along of course with a decrease in carbon footprint.
MHE suppliers will have the very same benefits, along with reduced truck down time, through the clever technology of re-direction of air flow through the charger, eliminating PCB failures, which currently accounts for 95% of all failures in the HF market. Alongside this, Benning HF technology’s extended design life, which is now 10 years, creates a benefit to STR fleets at the end of a lease contract, meaning the need to purchase a new charger for a second hand truck is eliminated.
WLN – So how do you get the message to end users, while involving the OEMs and the battery suppliers, so everybody comes out winning?
We are doing it through careful marketing and networking with materials handling equipment suppliers, distributors and end users, along with building an understanding of our UK strategy by our customers and supply chain.
WLN – Who owns Benning?
Benning Power Electronics is a privately owned company, with global manufacturing and headquarters in Bocholt, Germany.
WLN – How state of the art are your factories?
Our factories are all ISO9001and ISO14001 registered, and use the most advanced methods and machinery in their vertical manufacturing methodology.
WLN – Where are you based in the UK?
We are based in Finchampstead, Berkshire.
WLN – How big is Benning Power Electronics here in the UK?
Benning have been active in the UK for over 30 years, and have built an excellent reputation in the 50Hz market throughout this time. Last year we saw a significant increase in both customer numbers and market share, and with the introduction of our new HF product we will see this trend continuing.
WLN – What different types of equipment are your power solutions designed for?
Our products are suited to all motive power systems, including the cleaning machine market, warehousing and manufacturing.
WLN – What proportion of your power systems are for industrial equipment? What proportion of this industrial equipment is materials handling equipment?
We have a three way split essentially. One third is traction based, one third Standby Power and one third with Telecoms and post sales support.
WLN – Can you talk us through the difference that High Frequency technology makes to battery charging? How much more efficient and lower-carbon is HF than traditional technology?
HF is the way the market is going, but the problem is the historically high failure rate. The main benefit of HF is the energy consumption. Some HF products will significantly reduce the utility costs and associated labour cost of maintenance. Benning HF offers an efficiency rating of 95%, and with a reduction in temperature during charge, maintenance is halved when compared to 50Hz products, and there are further reductions still when we use an air circulation system.
WLN – Where do you develop your HF technology? Where do you manufacture your systems?
We assemble all our systems for the UK market in Finchampstead, near Reading. All parts are supplied by wholly owned Benning subsidiaries throughout Europe. By assembling locally, we are able to meet the demands of local conditions and availability. We currently supply product with a two week lead time for standard lines.
WLN – How has the new product been received since its launch at IMHX?
The new Belatron from Benning has been widely accepted as bringing long overdue reliability and efficiency benefits to the MHE industry.
WLN – In non-technical terms how do your new HF systems eliminate the old HF reliability problems?
With the development of a product over a two year period, Benning have increased HF’s quality and reliability, with the end result being reduction of truck down time normally associated with charger failures. The unique air flow for cooling and PCB coating and elimination of filters has given Benning a product with a design life of 10 years.
WLN – How long do your new HF chargers last for between service intervals? What is their asset life?
Maintenance is reduced with the use of Benning HF products. Our chargers will potentially increase service intervals, and battery whole life is increased. The charger is offered to the market with a standard five year warranty.
WLN – What sets Benning apart from other battery charging suppliers?
WLN – How big is the potential UK demand for HF chargers?
The number of HF chargers supplied for new materials handling equipment, is approximately 9000 per year in the UK.
WLN – Finally, where do you see battery charging technology going from here?
Benning are in constant development of new technologies for all industries, and whilst the new Belatron is the “latest thing,” additional products in battery charging will be seen over the next few years.
Benning Power Electronics (UK) Ltd
Tel: 0118 973 1506