The project goal is to trial the use of material handling vehicles such as forklifts run on environmentally, efficient hydrogen, under real production conditions and to develop these further towards series maturity.

Besides sustainability, a key focus is on recharging cycles and maintenance. In conventional vehicles of this type with batteries, these aspects result in relatively high downtimes due to the necessity to change the leadacid batteries. In contrast, the fuel cell hybrid system for forklifts and haulers is low maintenance and also boasts refuelling procedures that are completed within just a few minutes. The vehicles therefore attain higher rates of availability, particularly in multi-shift operations.

Germany’s first indoor hydrogen refilling station was established at the BMW production facility in Leipzig for the construction of the BMW i vehicle body. Linde Material Handling provided the hydrogen-run fuel cell vehicles for material handling used in this project, which with four tugger trains and five forklifts comprised part of the vehicle fleet used in the production facility. The Lehrstuhl fml (Institute of Materials Handling, Material Flow, Logistics) at the Technical University of Munich will provide scientific support and evaluation in terms of ecological and economic sustainability. BMW will test the technology under everyday conditions within a real production environment, using hydrogen that was produced CO2-free.

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