Ground handler overhauls electric vehicle power facilities

Turkish Ground Services (TGS) – the joint venture between Turkish Airlines and Havas – has improved the performance, efficiency and reliability of the electric vehicles that support its operations at six major airports across Turkey by installing new battery systems.

Established in 2010 the TGS joint venture serves over 100 airlines visiting eight airports throughout the country. Its operations include passenger, apron and ramp services as well and ground and cargo handling. These are supported by a fleet of electric vehicles including luggage tugs and push-back tractors. TGS inherited facilities for these vehicles that had evolved piecemeal over many years. There was little or no consistency across the various parts of the operation or at individual sites, as illustrated by the situation at Ataturk Airport. Here the battery charging and changing areas were unmanaged and located outdoors where they were exposed to changeable weather conditions with little security.

The batteries themselves were poorly maintained, the automatic filling systems were not working properly and there was no reliable source of distilled water, which made any form of topping difficult. Poor management meant individual units lost their capacity very quickly and were failing in little more than a year. Overall the operation of the vehicles was inconsistent, inefficient and prone to disruption.

Seeking an improvement TGS procured the services of power company EnerSys who supplied a complete set of new batteries, chargers and related equipment. This included 100 of its Hawker® Perfect Plus™ batteries (80V PzS620Ah) for the luggage tugs.

For the push-back tractors EnerSys supplied 90 of its Ironclad® batteries (80V PzQ688Ah). Designed for heavy-duty applications these incorporate tubular positive electrodes with greater surface area than traditional flat-plate designs and a higher-than-average-density electrolyte. This helps deliver more power with higher discharge rates and up to 15 per cent longer running times according to the developers who say they are particularly suited to intensive applications where operators such as TGS want to extend the period between recharges and minimise the number of battery changes.

The new charge-and-change building was designed by EnerSys® from the ground up. It incorporates 100 of the advanced Hawker® Life iQ™ high frequency programmable smart chargers. These automatically detect the battery’s level of discharge and only supply the amount of power needed to restore full charge before shutting down. They have a real-time clock which allows charging operations to be scheduled during less expensive off-peak periods. Equalisation charge can be started when convenient and real dates programmed for each event.

Inside the charging room two large LED screens mounted on the wall provide vehicle drivers with clear and concise information including details of the next available battery that they should use. The system is configured to sound an alarm if the wrong unit is selected to promote a high level of compliance with agreed procedures. Managers can monitor the operation from any computer with a web browser and access a wide range of analytical and reporting tools to assess and optimise fleet performance. They can also configure the system to issue alerts by email or SMS in the event of predetermined events so that they can respond proactively.

The remaining infrastructure inside the battery building has been designed for safe and efficient operations. Batteries are exchanged using a dual over-head crane which offers increased capacity over the previous facility. The cranes have 2.5 tonne maximum working load and there is built-in redundancy so that operations can continue during scheduled or unscheduled downtime of either unit.

The battery chargers are mounted on a frame at head height. This removes potential obstructions from the floor, minimises the risk of damage from collisions and affords easier access during routine operations or maintenance. Cables are short to prevent them trailing on the ground.

Ancillary services including electrical transformers, cabling and water pipes were incorporated into the design from the start and positioned to serve all of the charging stations. An on-site water treatment plant was installed to ensure a continuous supply of deionised water for the batteries for the automatic filling systems. Epoxy coating on the floor provides protection against accidental spills of water or battery acid. Automatic doors with infra-red sensors ensured the building remains secure against the elements while allowing easy access for vehicles. The design also included hydrogen detection and active ventilation systems to maintain excellent air quality at all times.

EnerSys has completed similar installations for TGS at five other airports in Turkey – Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, Ankara, Antalya, Bodrum and Dalaman.



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