And electric car hums quietly at the fuel dispenser. The driver opens the lid to the electrical sockets with one call per mobile phone to the nationwide standard LadeFoxx number. Then he taps new electric energy with the matching cable. The billing for the charging process takes place later via invoice. The system is extremely simple and only requires a one-time user registration at www.ladefoxx.de. ERO Edelstahl-Rohrtechnik GmbH has been supplying such fuel dispensers for more than two years. Over 2,000 models are available in the meantime throughout Germany, says Managing Director Dr. Peter Westerbarkey. Today there are a total of 1,200 from different manufacturers between the Baltic Sea and the Alps.
The company in northern Saxony-Anhalt is among the trailblazers in terms of electrical vehicle filling stations. “We did not want to merely jump onto a moving train with these technologies, but we intended to be actively involved from the beginning”, says Westerbarkey. His company specialises in the processing of stainless steel and aluminium. This includes the manufacture of complicated geometric shapes. For the inner workings of fuel dispensers for electric vehicles the company sought out partners from the electronics industry and entered into a long-term cooperation.
The managing director shows a penchant for new developments. He only sees a future for the business operation with innovative products and new mainstays. The crisis had brought painful cuts due to a poor order situation, above all with supplies for ventilation systems in buildings and thereby demonstrated the accuracy of this concept.
“Our system is structured modularly and can be retrofitted for future requirements”, explains Dr. Peter Westerbarkey. Customers obtain their electric charging stations ready-to-use from one source; even the concrete foundation is included in the scope of delivery. The head-high charging columns consist of three areas. The communications area is located on the very top. Contact with the LadeFoxx headquarters can be established per mobile phone with its help. After a one-time registration in the Internet, the charging process can start by indicating the fuel dispenser number via radio signal with the registered mobile telephone. The second area serves this purpose. Up to three different connections for diverse charging systems are located there. No matter whether it is the customary safety plug for 230 volt, the outlet for three-phase current with 400 volts (fast charging) or the so-called type 2 plug connector (fast charging), all will be served. If there are other contacts in the future these can be retrofitted without any problems. Space for the remaining technology such as electricity meter has been found in the base of the fuel-dispensing column. The compact construction enables rapid help in case of repair. Defective components can be exchanged with a few hand movements, since commercially available standard electronics have been deliberately utilised.
An entire series of different fuel-dispensing columns adapted to the respective utilisation concept has already been developed in the ERO cooperation. “With this, we adapt to the desires of our customers”, explains Westerbarkey. For instance, in addition to the model controlled by mobile phone, models for supermarkets which function similarly to the traditional filling station for petrol are also available. A third variation is intended for corporate parking areas. In addition to the “mother”, there are up to eight “children” which can be controlled and operated from the mother unit.
Even now the managing director is looking for other fields of application and sees yet another field of activity in electric bicycles. Adapted systems will have to be available there in order to supply bicycles as uncomplicatedly as possible. This will be a challenge, particularly due to different contacts and battery systems.
The Salzwedel-based company had been established in 1991 as part of the Westaflex Group in order to be able to fulfil the high demand in the eastern German construction industry for stainless steel pipes for smokestack renovation. The technical solutions in this field are multifaceted and up to this day suitable for single-family houses as well as for block-type thermal power stations. Old halls formerly utilised by the local agricultural production cooperative (LPG) quickly became the starting point for a successful corporate development. The availability of the property came about through a coincidence, says Westerbarkey. The first employees received thorough training at the headquarters of the parent holding company, and production started in the same year. Vocational education and advanced training is still rated very highly today at ERO. The company pays for attendance at training courses and continually trains apprentices. About 70 employees work at the site today. They produce ventilation systems for clean rooms utilised for production of computer chips as well as for pharmaceutical producers. Stainless steel smokestacks for biogas facilities and ventilation systems in ICE trains or double-deck trains are also included in the product range. Export products are currently sent to about 30 countries around the globe.
Author: Klaus-Peter Voigt
ERO Edelstahl-Rohrtechnik GmbH
Dr. Peter Westerbarkey
Telephone: +49 (0)39035-950-0