All over the world, cities and their inhabitants suffer due to high levels of noise, air pollution and traffic. With an act of parliament favoring electromobility and alternative drive systems, Poland has recently set a milestone – the aim is for 20 percent of local transport to be emission-free by 2025. German technology group Schunk has decades of experience in this field and has also been present in Poland since last year. The company wishes not only to promote local projects, but also support local providers in international tender procedures.
Mr. Dej, you are Head of Technical Sales at Schunk Carbon Technology in Poland. Your company is considered an important supplier of e-mobility solutions all over the world. What exactly does that entail?
Dej: Schunk offers a wide range of products and services in the fields of carbon technology and ceramics, environmental simulation, climate technology, sintered metals, and ultrasonic welding. Our "Schunk Smart Charging" development involves current collectors which are otherwise known as pantographs. These are mounted on the roofs of e-buses, for example. This means they can be charged along the way – and thus much faster. This so-called "opportunity charging" occurs at strategic stations. The pantograph attached to the vehicle roof makes contact with a docking station installed at the bus stop. This means that relatively small batteries are installed in the buses because only a small amount of energy has to be stored until the next stop. This is a real benefit for cities with long-range lines. Depot charging is also carried out via the pantographs. This option is suitable for operators of smaller vehicle fleets and for short-range lines. Operators with many buses obviously do not want to individually "plug in" each bus in the evening. For this reason, we believe that manual plug-in solutions have no future and that opportunity charging will catch on.
You aren’t only active in the bus market. What other markets does Schunk serve?
Dej: The "Schunk Smart Charging" system is already used for other electrically operated vehicles – for example harbor and airport vehicles, water buses, and mining vehicles. With the Underbody Charger, Schunk presents a prototype of the electric fuelling station of the future, which will safely, efficiently and conveniently allow for autonomous charging of various vehicle types – like e-cars – in just seconds. This is made possible by a charging station embedded in the pavement and the docking module installed in the vehicle underbody.
Besides charging solutions for various types of vehicles, we offer our customers a broad product portfolio for the rail industry. In addition to our range of carbon-based products for power transmission, we supply innovative system solutions which are precisely tailored to the requirements of our customers around the world.
In 2018, Schunk opened a branch in Warsaw. What do you offer the Polish market?
Dej: As a group, we operate all over the world and supply OEMs, providers and manufacturers which are also represented in Poland. However, it was important for us to also be available ourselves as a contact for our Polish partners, as well as for cities and municipalities. Mobility solutions are often long-term projects requiring much coordination and clarification. With our colleagues in situ who speak the language and know the market, we would like to support customers in finding the best solutions for their projects. With employees based in Poland we can, for example, participate in the TRAKO trade fair and meet with customers, partners, and interested parties there.
Is your commitment to Poland already bearing fruit?
Dej: We are already represented in several Polish cities. If you travel by bus in Warsaw, Krakow, Jaworzno or Stalowa Wola, it will most likely have a Schunk pantograph on the roof. Because we have a local presence, we can explain to local providers much better the areas of our expertise and the quality of our products, some of which are in the higher price range. After all, in the long run, our customers pay much less over the entire lifecycle of our solutions because they don’t have to spend as much on maintenance and repairs. This obviously applies not only for providers of e-buses, but also for trams and other vehicle providers. Thus, for example, we have managed to win some customers over simply by offering them our carbon-based contact strips in addition to the pantographs. These protect vehicles and overhead lines against wear and tear as well as damage, so this is a real investment for the future.
Time for a look ahead: What do you expect to achieve through your company’s presence in Poland?
Dej: We would like to make our experience and knowledge from countless projects all over the world available to the Polish market, too. With our know-how and contacts, we can also help Polish providers in international tender procedures. While the subject of e-mobility is to some degree still in the experimental phase, Schunk as a provider has long since moved past the stage of trials and prototypes and is engaged in serial operation. We all benefit from this – not only in terms of reduced CO2 emissions, but also in terms of better smelling air and a lower noise level.