Of all the different sectors within the airport industry, ground support equipment (GSE) has enjoyed a period of stability over the past few years. That might change, however, with the advent of tighter emissions standards from the EU for non-road machinery.
"A major change in the near future for EU customers will be the mandatory arrival of the EU's Stage V emission standards for [non-road mobile machinery] from 2019-20 (depending on engine output)," explains TREPEL Airport Equipment managing director Carsten Schimkat. "This electrification of ground support equipment means all engines will have to be equipped with diesel particulate filters (DPFs)."
A DPF is a filter that captures and stores exhaust soot in order to reduce emissions from vehicles. The new Stage V regulations represent a major challenge for vehicles with diesel engines that are expected to operate on an airport apron. Engines there spend a long time running on idle speed, which increases the number of times that DPFs will need to be emptied, or 'burned off', to regenerate.
"I believe that there will be customers who used to buy diesel-powered equipment, who will go for electric from 2019 onwards," Schimkat says. "We already know [this] from a German airport, [which] said quite early on to us that they have completely stopped buying dieselpowered equipment."
TREPEL is introducing electric engines into its new designs, such as the CHAMP 70Se, the first 400V electric loader announced worldwide. The company introduced it just last year at the Inter Airport Europe exhibition for airport equipment, technology, security, design and services in Munich. "This device is more carbon neutral, recharges more efficiently and uses less power [than a diesel-powered vehicle]," Schimkat explains. "TREPEL is also in the process of converting all of its equipment designs to electric engines, to avoid future problems for its customers."
A leading German-based manufacturer of specialist airport products, such as cargo high loaders and aircraft tractors, TREPEL offers its customers a comprehensive and top-quality selection of vehicles and equipment suitable for the GSE market. At TREPEL, these products go hand in hand with great customer service and excellent innovation, according to Schimkat. With an export percentage of over 90%, the company's products are sold across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and the US. The company is not getting complacent, however, and Schimkat is very clear that it has big plans for the future.
Being a global company that sells its goods "from Greenland to Fiji", TREPEL also understands the challenges its customers can face from their local environments. It makes sure it offers products that are easy to repair and maintain. Schimkat uses the example of his company's range of high loaders. "On our high loaders, we use a relay control system, whereas the competition uses a PLC control [system]. Now, when a relay is broken, you'll find a replacement around almost every corner. Whereas a PLC is something very specialist, that is specifically designed for the equipment involved. Its availability, especially abroad, is limited," he says.
For many of TREPEL's overseas customers, some of whom are from developing countries or working in extremely challenging environments, buying a product from a company where the design approach is to make troubleshooting simpler and cheaper is clearly the sensible way to go. In an industry facing many challenges from environmental regulation to technological change, keeping technical issues to a minimum is the optimal way to maximise operational efficiency.