Sustainability has been high on ECT’s agenda for many years already. Various initiatives contribute to further increasing the organisation’s sustainability. Among them is the monitoring of technological developments related to energy sources.
Together with their teams and ECT’s sustainability project group, Henk-Jan Bax (General Manager Repair and Maintenance) and Paul van Bennekom (Manager Infrastructure & Equipment) closely follow the market developments regarding equipment and energy sources. They also keep abreast of developments and the way in which ECT can meet its sustainability objectives through discussions with suppliers.
The objective is to be emission-free by 2035. Henk-Jan Bax: “It is a challenge to properly determine what ECT needs to do in order to achieve this. To make the terminals future-proof, our teams keep track of trends and conduct research. Currently, we are seeing more developments surrounding hydrogen and other alternative energy sources. That is interesting to us. What things do we need to anticipate and take into consideration? And what are the policies of the various government bodies?”
ECT's automated terminals are in the top-10 of energy efficient terminals worldwide. The entire automation process of the 1990s constituted a huge greening. We were true front runners. Following the first automation phase, optimisations have continuously been introduced. And each year, improvements are still being made and new technologies are being implemented. On the other hand, it is less easy to achieve substantial steps towards increased sustainability at an existing terminal. Many adjustments are required, both to processes and equipment.
At the start of this year, new Straddle Carriers and Multi Trailer Trucks (MTTs) were purchased. Modular AGVs have also been ordered. Modular, so that it is possible to switch to a different energy source later. In this way, equipment can already be geared to the future right now. “Equipment is not the only thing though; infrastructure in particular is an important enabler to make further sustainability possible, especially for mobile vehicles.”
AGVs, carriers, MTTs and company cars will become electric and will use hydrogen or batteries as energy source. ECT is closely monitoring these market developments. Henk-Jan Bax: “The large equipment that we use is not mass-produced, so we have to encourage suppliers to develop it. ECT has already initiated new developments for equipment before, contributing to a much lower fuel consumption.”
The next step is to calculate the costs for these new alternatives; obviously, there is a financial side to sustainability as well. Paul van Bennekom “Besides technological and cost aspects, this is of course also about taking care of our planet and its inhabitants. Health and clean air are important at the terminals as well.”