One of the trends seen at this year’s inter airport – one that has been a common feature of GSE shows for some time – was the number of suppliers promoting electric equipment. One of them in Munich in October was Helsa, Germany-based fuelling specialist Esterer
Esterer had two electric refuellers on its outside stand, one an electric avgas refueller, the other what Nico Hanemann – head of the company’s aviation department – describes as a ‘maintenance refueller’.
This latter vehicle can undertake simultaneous fuelling and de-fuelling on two different circuits. This is extremely useful for aircraft manufacturers undertaking test flights that require complete and quick de-fuelling and refuelling without any possibility of pollution between the two.
It is an unusual and very complex piece of machinery, says Hanemann, which is why Esterer showed it off on its stand at inter airport.
TOTAL is operating one of these vehicles for D’Assault in Bordeaux, while another, larger version is in use with Airbus in Toulouse.
Esterer’s electric refuellers are said by the company to be its “latest, most innovative and sophisticated product”. Esterer has developed its own battery management system for its electrically driven fuelling. The electric refuellers are fully Joint Inspection Group (JIG) compliant.
Demand for electric refuellers continues to grow, Hanemann confirms, whether they be Esterer’s refuellers or semi-trailers. Allowing fuelling while the main diesel engine is off, these electric fuelling systems reduce emissions and are of course much less noisy. They also save on diesel costs and cut down on maintenance requirements.
Electric drive is by no means Esterer’s only focus when it comes to ongoing innovation. Digitalisation and the power of data were other themes of inter airport, and Esterer has placed great store in these advances.
Thus, for example, it offers Smart Service, a free app for customers that connects the user to Esterer engineers for audiovisiual discussions. It provides a rapid after-sales service that even incorporates an automated language translation option, thus obviating the need for customers to wait for an Esterer service engineer to come to their place of work.
Esterer proRefuel, meanwhile, is a web-based system for monitoring the performance, maintenance and health of Esterer trucks during use. Data connected by a truck’s telematic system is collected by Esterer, collated and analysed to identify problems at the earliest possible stage. Pre-emptive maintenance can be scheduled as necessary, and new parts ordered as required.
Plus, the telematic data allows Esterer to check how the vehicle is being used and to alert the customer’s management to any issues of concern: does the driver exceed speed limits, for example, or are interlock overrides activated?
All these innovations support Esterer’s focus on product quality. Its equipment is manufactured and engineered almost wholly by the company itself (including tanks, although not chassis).
As a result, perhaps, business is good, Hanemann confirms. Its semi-trailer and rigid refueller and dispenser vehicles are in daily use in 70 countries around the world and the company’s order book is full, he observes, with Esterer selling into markets all the way from Argentina to Singapore. It also offers a line of products specifically dedicated to military customers.