Tag Archive | "Ecobat"

NEW LIFE FOR DEAD BATTERIES AT ECOBAT

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NEW LIFE FOR DEAD BATTERIES AT ECOBAT


We get to some odd places for CAT Connections, but the giant Ecobat battery recycling plant on an industrial estate on the edge of Darlaston has to rank as one of the most surreal. On entering the main plant, you go up a flight of stairs and look out over the shop floor, and once your eyes are accustomed to the gloom, you can see a gigantic, hellish-looking machine apparently swallowing a never-ending diet of domestic batteries, fed to it through a labyrinthine series of conveyors.

All around, dead batteries are piled in special containers and there’s a strange, acidic tang in the air.

DARK VISION

This scene may look a little like something from a Hieronymus Bosch triptych, but the machine is providing an important public service, as Tom Seward, Ecobat’s Commercial Director explained: “We get roughly a third of all domestic batteries from the UK through here.” That’s a lot of AAs to handle, hence the ‘Devourer’ munching away beneath us. It isn’t actually destroying the batteries, but automatically sorting them into different bins according to type and readying them for destruction in an environmentally safe manner.

The problems occur when batteries are collected that have been left outside for weeks – usually at council-run rubbish dumps – having become bloated and taken on a furry texture. In this case, every piece has to be handled and identified by specially trained employees wearing the requisite PPE.

READ: THE GREEN SUPPLIER: BATTERY TECHNOLGIES

All of this interesting work costs a lot of money, with the tab being picked up by the battery industry. However, it isn’t the primary purpose of our visit today. The site deals with lots of these domestic batteries (which could be either alkaline or lithium hence the need for identification prior to recycling) as well as all types of industrial cells and, of course, automotive batteries. Seward and the team have invited us to look around the plant to raise awareness of both vehicle battery recycling and of the company itself, which we are pleased to do as global brand Ecobat can justifiably claim to be the world’s largest producer of lead, with around 840,000 tonnes manufactured each year. The firm has a global reach, but a few years ago it set about acquiring a number of battery-related businesses across Europe. Here in the UK it acquired distributor Manbat as well as waste collection firm G&P Batteries.

This means the firm can offer a ‘closed loop’ on traditional lead acid batteries, as it can deal with everything involved in the production, distribution, collection and recycling of the units. Seward also pointed out that everything can be recycled on a traditional starting battery, The only exception, ironically, is the sticky label with the battery info and recycling symbol on it.

MIXED DANGER

However, there are two persistent problems, one minor and one major. The first small problem is that people continue to refer to the company by its old name, even though it has been years since the change. The second, far more serious problem is that of different battery types being mixed together prior to collection. “Take a look at this” Seward said, while opening a cabinet and taking out what appeared to be a regular scrap car battery, albeit a little cleaner than the rest of the battered scrap units at the plant. “Yes, it looks the same as a regular lead acid battery, but if you look closely, you’ll see that the label says it’s lithium iron.” It turns out that this battery had been OE on a McLaren which used a lithium battery as standard. The unit had been thrown into the same collection bin as all the other batteries, and it was only noticed by an eagle-eyed operator who pulled it out of the batch. “Batteries can be fairly safe and benign, but can also be very highly volatile, particularly if the risks aren’t known or they are ignored,” cautioned Seward. If it had been broken with the rest of the lead acid batteries, Seward explained to us, at best there would have been an explosion and a fire, but there would also likely be highly toxic gas released, putting the lives of everyone at the plant at risk. Fortunately lithium starting batteries are rare, but we can’t help but wonder why there isn’t an ISO standard mandating that the case be a distinctive colour.

READ: ‘WASTE BATTERY MOUNTAIN’ REPORT IS DOOM-MONGERING

NEW PROJECTS

The firm makes around 71,000 collections throughout the year so it’s perhaps no wonder that batteries occasionally get put into the wrong bin by clients, who are after all, throwing them away. To guard against fires breaking out, the facility has been designed with plenty of concrete bulkheads, and features specially designed racking and bins, so if there is a problem it can be dealt with quickly and easily. There are lots of safety measures enforced throughout the site, ranging from the obvious fire protection equipment through to vehicles all being parked facing in the same direction in case it is necessary to evacuate quickly.

A new facility to remove traction batteries from electric vehicles is being built on site. Seward said it’s straightforward to remove power packs from end-of-life vehicles, but crash-damaged machines present their own risks, and require highly specialised knowledge, equipment and facilities to tear down safely.

As always, safety and awareness of the risks are paramount. “I’ve been in the business for fourteen years. This is a high-risk industry that we’re in. It isn’t about ticking boxes for health and safety,” Seward concluded.

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ECOBAT TO EXHIBIT AT AUTOMECHANIKA B’HAM

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ECOBAT TO EXHIBIT AT AUTOMECHANIKA B’HAM


PROMO ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF ECOBAT TECHNOLOGIES

There is a lot more to the ECOBAT group than meets the eye. Besides being Europe’s largest specialist battery distributor, it is also the world’s largest producer of lead and lead alloys, supplying battery manufacturers all over the world. As a result, more than 50 million batteries are produced containing its lead and alloys annually.

This specialism means that ECOBAT Technologies is also a global leader in metallurgical processes and R&D for battery plate construction enhancements, continually developing the use of alloys to improve battery performance, such as:

  • Cranking and Capacity
  • Cycle life
  • Charge acceptance
  • Reduced gassing
  • Operation in extreme temperature environments
  • Reduced corrosion

This commitment has led to many of the key technology advances and product patents, but the company also works with leading battery manufacturers, adding its expertise to their own.

In 2009 the group began investing in battery distribution, and today the division – ECOBAT Battery Technologies (EBT) –  supplies more than 2.5 million batteries to OEM and aftermarket customers, many of which will inevitably contain its advanced lead and alloys, ensuring optimum performance and product longevity. EBT is not simply a specialist battery supplier, it is part of a manufacturing and technology group with a battery specialist division.

In the UK, EBT is active in virtually all battery markets, with wide sector coverage and comprehensive product ranges with leading brands such as VARTA®, Lucas and Numax. The quality of the products, combined with a nationwide distribution network, focussed customer support and high stock availability, are all contributory factors to the success of the company.

To demonstrate all things EFB/AGM and encourage technicians to look to the future and benefit from the changing world of batteries, EBT is teaming up with long-term partner VARTA for this year’s Automechanika Birmingham.

As it has done previously, the company will also be using one of the event’s technical presentations – to be delivered from the Technical Training Hub in the show’s ‘Garage Quarter’ – to give technicians a glimpse of the future by addressing the realities of the growth in lithium battery technology and the responsibilities faced by workshops as the global trend for electric vehicles continues.

At the same time, current technology must not be overlooked as the market transitions from traditional to hybrid vehicles, which puts greater demands on the vehicle’s battery management system and requires vehicle specific repair solutions.

Technicians are at the front line, not only when it comes to diagnosing problems and making the repair, but also in educating motorists who are largely unfamiliar with this new technology. EBT will therefore be challenging them with the question: are they equipped for an electric future?

Back on its stand (H81), alongside the market-leading VARTA range, EBT will be displaying the formidable Lucas portfolio, as well as its very own Numax offering, to demonstrate the depth and breadth of products in its substantial armoury.

“Automechanika again provides us with the ideal occasion to connect with our customers and end-users, to help them gain a clear understanding of the challenges – and accompanying opportunities – that the latest technical developments present,” explains the company’s Sales Director, Paul Payne.

“Start/stop equipped vehicles, the continuing trend towards fully electric alternatives, environmental responsibilities and the wider opportunities outside of the traditional automotive sector are all points of interest that many visitors will want to discuss and for which EBT has many compelling solutions. We therefore look forward to welcoming visitors to both the technical presentation and our stand, to demonstrate how we can travel the road together and look forward with confidence to a bright future.”

For further details, please contact ECOBAT Battery Technologies on: 01743 218500 or visit: www.ecobat.tech

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DONE DEAL: SUPPLIERS SECURE LOCATIONS

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DONE DEAL: SUPPLIERS SECURE LOCATIONS


Three aftermarket firms have added to their networks.

■ Factor chain Euro Car Parts has agreed a ten-year lease for its new 20,700 sq ft warehouse, situated at the Cross Green Industrial Estate in Leeds. The location overlooks Pontefract Lane (A3), providing connections to the East Leeds Link Road and direct access to Junction 45 off the M1.

“We are pleased to have secured Euro Car Parts as a tenant for this highly prominent scheme”, said Mike Baugh, Senior Director of Industrial Agency at CBRE Leeds, “Solvgrin [the site developer] has constructed a very attractive unit at this gateway to Leeds”, adding that the organisation will construct a further 6,000 sq ft industrial unit adjacent to the supplier’s facility.

■ Tyre brand Michelin has invested £10m for its logistics operation in Stoke-on-Trent, with the opening of a new distribution centre in July. The upgrade also includes a new distribution centre for ATS Euromaster – where both units will store and deliver up to five million tyres between them per annum. The two sites combined have doubled its logistics team to around 150 staff in order to satisfy this growing demand.

Richard Whitehurst, Service to Customer Manager at Michelin Tyre, said. “The transformation of our logistics operation will allow us to improve service and ensure greater product availability”. In addition to this, the firm is stepping up manufacturing capacity at its Campbell Road headquarters in Stoke-on-Trent by launching another tyre production facility. The warehouse will open at the end of November allowing the manufacturer to produce up to 1,100 tyres a day.

■ Meanwhile,Ecobat Technologies has moved to a 15,000 sq ft premises in Bristol. “We needed to move to a property that will allow the business to continue to develop and provide support for our customers” concluded a statement from the firm.

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