Stengel Ziegel. Bricks with an 'electric charge'.

Sector: Construction materials

Long-standing company with more than 400 years’ experience of brick production. Over 70 employees.

Heavy strain as a result off brick dust. Transport of 90 million standard bricks per year. Reduction of energy costs.

Switch from diesel to electric forklift trucks. Electric forklift trucks with fully enclosed drive unit.

STILL products:
RX 60-50 electric forklift trucks, 5-tonne lifting capacity.

Stengel Ziegel is one of the first brickworks to use STILL RX 60-50/600 electric forklift trucks, working partly in a three-shift pattern, for loading trucks and disposing of production waste.

Brick dust is aggressive. The small square grains find their way into the smallest cracks and have the same effect as rough sandpaper. The Stengel brickworks, based in Donauwörth in southern Germany, knows this only too well. Most affected are the ten forklift trucks that are used at the plant to quickly load trucks and to move items during the production process.

In 2019, the first three STILL electric forklift trucks were added to the Stengel fleet. The RX 60-50/600 forklifts have a lifting capacity of 5 tonnes and a load centre of 600 mm, and were selected over a number of competitor models. Before making a decision, the production team carried out extensive tests with various demonstration trucks. "In terms of carrying out daily tasks, the STILL RX 60-50 was able to show that its performance and battery capacity could keep up with our high demands, even in three-shift operation," says Johannes Stengel, now in the 17th generation of family members to run the company.

The luxury of silence

One of the many advantages of an electric forklift truck compared to a combustion forklift truck is the complete enclosure of the drive unit. "The motor and transmission are entirely protected against brick dust, which has a very positive impact on the durability and reliability of the forklift trucks," says Stengel. The other advantages of the RX 60-50 were also evident from day one; for example, the engine runs smoothly and quietly, which significantly increases driving comfort. "In comparison to a diesel engine, the RX 60-50 offers a more luxurious experience with its quiet running," says forklift driver Klaus Burger, who has already said goodbye to combustion engines in forklift trucks.

The low energy costs are another clear advantage. As an industrial consumer, Stengel benefits from very low energy prices, which he uses to charge the 840 Ah batteries for the forklift trucks. "They are much cheaper to run than the diesel engines," says Stengel. Even with the built-in air conditioning system, the RX 60-50/600 uses only 12.1 kWh per hour, which means a battery charge lasts for around 1.5 work shifts, or 12 hours. The battery is then swapped for the replacement battery, which is ready and waiting, charged and cooled on the charger. "It took us a bit of time to get used to the new charging routine, but after a few days the process was running without a hitch," says Stengel, who acquired the three new electric forklift trucks using the leasing option. 

Idling without consequences

This leads on to another clear benefit, as a crucial factor when it comes to working out leasing rates is the number of recorded operating hours. With a combustion engine, the frequent idling and standstill periods while the engine is running are factored into the leasing rates, but this does not happen at all with the electric forklift trucks. Instead of the annual 1900 to 2000 hours calculated for the diesel forklift truck, the electric model counts only 1400 hours in the same period and with the same amount of use, which is a difference of 30 percent. This systemic disadvantage when it comes to combustion engines could only be fixed by using the same automatic start-stop feature used in cars, but there is no technical way to implement this. "If the diesel engine switches off every time the forklift truck stops, the turbo charger will soon overheat," explains Stengel.

The electric forklift trucks are expected to have a positive impact too when it comes to operating and maintenance costs. "With electric engines there is no need to change the oil or the drive belt, or to clean the air filters," says Stengel, listing various charges typically found on a workshop invoice. There is also a much higher risk of engine damage with combustion engines. "The need to clean the exhaust gas has made combustion engines produced by some manufacturers much more sensitive, so that the first significant damage can appear after as little as four and up to 11,000 operating hours," says the businessman.

Leading by example

The switch to the low-maintenance electric forklift trucks at Stengel Ziegel was, however, delayed for a long time due to preconceptions of the forklifts. "My drivers used to think of electric forklift trucks as being too inflexible and low-performance to be used in the harsh conditions of the brick factory," reflects Stengel, who is viewed as an electric pioneer in his industry. Now that he has convinced himself and his team of the stability of the electric forklift trucks, he also acts as a sort of reference for other companies. "We have already received visits from two other brickworks, who came to see the STILL electric forklift trucks in use at our plant."

In future, such visits to Stengel Ziegel will become even more exciting, as the long-standing company is now planning the next expansion phase for the electric forklift truck fleet. They will soon begin testing an RX 60-80 with a lifting capacity of 8 tonnes. "This will enable us to really speed up the loading of our customer trucks even further," says Stengel with conviction. This will primarily impact curtainsiders, which are increasingly also being used to transport construction materials. 'Proper' construction trucks with a platform design and loading crane are becoming increasingly rare for cost reasons, providing new challenges for logistics departments.

Highly anticipated

In order to successfully load a truck from just one side, it is essential to have powerful forklift trucks that can lift four pallets to the opposite side of the loading space in one go and without pushing the goods across the floor. This should not be a problem for an 8-tonne RX 60-80 electric forklift truck. Everyone at Stengel Ziegel is awaiting the new demonstration truck with anticipation.

Background: Ziegelwerk Stengel GmbH & Co. KG

Stengel Ziegel is a long-standing company that has been producing bricks for more than 400 years. The brickwork is now in its 17th generation of family ownership and has various sites. From the Donauwörth and Neuburg locations, Stengel Ziegel distributes its products to the regions of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Poland, the Czech Republic and South Tyrol. Stengel Ziegel has more than 70 employees. Some 90 million traditional bricks are produced each year. The Stengel Ziegel portfolio ranges from traditional block and flat bricks to innovative noise and heat-protection bricks. The bricks score well in terms of thermal conductivity and compressive strength. Stengel Ziegel also produces the corresponding corner bricks, lintels, roller shutter boxes and slab edge systems. The brick manufacturer’s product range is rounded off with a wide variety of construction site accessories, such as measuring buckets, paddle mixers and carrying handles.