Hoppecke is now the leading specialist for industrial battery systems, and at the same time the largest battery manufacturer in European ownership. Hoppecke offers to its customers throughout the world concepts for efficient and reliable power supply for every industrial application. A leading exponent of environmental care for more than 80 years, Hoppecke offers solutions for a variety of industries including motive power, reserve power for IT/telecoms, power stations, solar energy and UPS, special power for rail and underground. Hoppecke’s UK operation is based in Newcastle-Under-Lyme in the Midlands and the parent company has customers and business partners in many countries around the world, including Europe, the USA and China.
WLN – As the Battery Power Sources category experts, how has the category been performing in the last 12 months? What are the major trends and developments?
The UK’s motive power sector has shown positive growth in demand in the last year.
Customer focus has changed in terms of core products and service requirements with interest in energy saving and a lower carbon footprint through the use of energy management products and systems.
Increasingly, customers are consulting companies such as Hoppecke to take responsibility for their full DC energy asset. This can include full servicing and maintenance as well as financing to reduce costs and free up capital, enabling users to focus 100% on their core business.
The materials handling sector continues to have a high level of interest in the potential of alternative technologies such as lithium-ion and Fibre Nickel Cadmium (FNC-T) batteries as an alternative to lead acid. Hoppecke is leading the way in developments in these areas.
WLN – What are your core products and services: what are you best known for providing?
Our core business is the provision and maintenance of electrical power and storage systems in all their various forms. Our best known and most popular product is the Trak-Air battery which uses electrolyte circulation and a ‘smart’ microprocessor within the charger to ensure rapid and gentle charging. The Trak-Air system increases availability, improves battery life, lowers maintenance and reduces the customer’s carbon footprint. Trak-Air has been shown to deliver significant customer savings in AC electricity costs by over 30% compared to “standard” systems.
WLN – What developments or upgrades have you made to your core products and services in the last 12 months?
As a company, Hoppecke follows a programme of continuous improvement. This is not only for our core battery and charger products, but also by offering our customers added value power solutions.
Engineering individually tailored systems to customers’ specific requirements is an area where we have become increasingly expert within our industry and as a result we have gained a growing list of blue-chip companies in all sectors and industries.
WLN – What makes you the ‘go to’ supplier in your area of expertise?
Customers value the long-term relationships and support that Hoppecke provides, combined with the progressive quality products and technological knowhow through ‘German’ manufacturing.
Being backed by continued global as well as local investment means we are here for our customers when they need us, which we firmly believe is really important in this industry. We are continually looking to grow and improve Hoppecke to make it a better place to work and a better company to do business with.
WLN – Have you launched any new products and services in the past year? How are they performing?
As a progressive and innovative company, we constantly have a number of new products and services being introduced. Of specific interest in the past 12 months are the launch of new lithium-ion products, new smart chargers, informative call forwarding and management systems and ‘on-battery’ information collection units. Initiatives such as these have given customers the confidence to place energy supply contracts with Hoppecke where they effectively pay us for energy usage by the KWh. Generally, there’s a lot going on across the world with off-grid developments. One factor that is proving especially popular is time-shifting energy storage, especially in places like Africa where their vast sun and heat resources can be used to produce ‘off-grid’ energy 24 hours a day.
WLN – Which industry sectors are your customers in?
We supply numerous industries and market sectors but the principal market for Hoppecke in the UK is the warehouse and logistics sector. Our success in this particular industry is through building partnerships with materials handling OEM suppliers as well as end users, maximising their return on investment and total operating costs. We also have a significant presence in the rail transport sector with the increasing electrification of railway lines as well as delivering energy storage systems for the renewable energy sector.
WLN – Can you name some of your major customers and tell us about the work you do for them?
In the UK Hoppecke works extremely closely with some of the biggest materials handling OEMs and end-users and we are proud to have been chosen by many blue-chip customers in the logistics and warehouse industry to work in partnership with them. We also work very closely with all the major rolling stock providers in the UK, delivering auxiliary energy units for major railway systems.
WLN – Can you tell us about your latest major projects, and what they involve?
We are currently supplying several high profile companies with advanced lithium technology, with the aim of making it more viable within ‘clean’ industry sectors. We are also working in partnership with major OEM clients to develop products fit for the demands of 21st century energy storage and handling.
More specifically we are currently working on a number of exciting projects with major food and drink manufacturers to replace their existing maintenance-free GEL batteries with improved lithium products. We are also involved in the huge Crossrail project in London and a number of major projects with third party logistics warehouses and distribution centres. Many of our warehouse logistics projects involve high street names and industry leaders. In addition, we continue to maintain close relationships with the automotive sector and defence sectors.
WLN – Have you made any big moves recently in terms of investment in the business, recruitment and so on?
Our parent company in Germany continues to invest and support the UK business. This is demonstrated with the recent appointment of a new Managing Director dedicated to the UK market. Additional recruitment has been made across the company to support the existing talent and quality at all levels within the business. This has resulted in greater focus on account management and after sales service and customer support.
Hoppecke takes pride in our ability to build and refurbish industrial batteries within our premises in the UK. To maintain our flexibility and customer service we are always investing in new equipment and technology to remain at the forefront of the industry.
Recent investments include installing a new battery filling system and a new automatic aqueous degreaser for cleaning cells and ancillaries. These investments improve our in-house efficiency and enable us to provide a quicker turnaround time for our customers. We have recently expanded our production facilities to increase capacity, upgraded our IT and phone systems to improve use of our own enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and refurbished our premises to improve the user experience.
WLN – What was your company’s single biggest achievement in the last year?
Globally, the company has performed incredibly well, increasing turnover and market share in all major markets through organic growth. Closer to home, the biggest single achievement in Hoppecke UK this year has been the total support of the Zoellner family leading to the appointment a new MD, along with a new management team and structure. These are very exciting times for our company.
WLN – What are your plans for 2016? Are you planning to bring out any more products or services, move into new markets or enter new countries?
Hoppecke’s focus is to be the market leader in sustainable energy solutions and we have a number of new products in development designed to help Hoppecke and our customers reach their goals.
Entering new countries is not a role for Hoppecke UK but it is part of the wider global group strategy. We already have considerable global reach and a growing presence around the world. Recently, there has been a significant expansion with a multi-million dollar investment in the USA as well as further significant investments at our headquarters in Germany.
WLN – Are you exhibiting at any major trade shows this year?
Our next major exhibition for the UK is IMHX in September 2016 and we are already well into our planning for this. Also, Hoppecke will also be exhibiting at the CeMAT international exhibition in Hanover, Germany, in May, and a number of smaller industry specific events throughout the year ahead.
WLN – What are your predictions for the industry in 2016?
Indications are the UK’s GDP and index of industrial production will continue to increase, which is anticipated to result in growth of demand for our products and services. Our predictions are that customers’ challenges are changing, with increased focus on total energy requirements, overall costs of ownership and environmental impacts. Hoppecke is the only company that can provide integrated energy solutions balancing motive power demand with renewable energy generation through solar and wind technologies. This is all backed up with our one-stop total service support package which is designed to lower our customers’ overall operating costs.
WLN – What other headline news from your company can our readers look forward to reading about in Warehouse & Logistics News in 2016?
Hoppecke is placing greater focus on customers’ requirements over the next 12 months with investments in our team, structure, equipment and facilities. This will be supported with a greater interactive presence through revitalising our online operations and social media strategy.
One thing that is certain is the continued strong growth in demand for electric power which makes well-managed energy storage systems absolutely vital. The industrial battery sector is about electrical energy storage and there simply cannot be mobile electricity without electrical storage.
Globally, electricity demand is close to outstripping supply at certain times of the day/year.
Consumers want to use energy when required and not only when it is generated. There are likely to be several major announcements in 2016 regarding storage technology to balance supply and demand, which will increase with the greater generation of renewable energy which is even less predictable.
Other headline news will be based around the way that an energy asset is managed and whether companies own or lease it. Remote monitoring systems and diagnostics will definitely come into the equation, enabling consumers to have total control over their energy and costs.
Hoppecke is serious about the energy business and we are here to stay.
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