From diesel to fully electric
An interview with Robin Been, Sales Engineer at Intercel.
What exactly does a sales engineer do at intercel?
I am mainly the guy who looks for answers to technical questions from customers and potential clients. Our clients’ goal is to electrify quickly and above all intelligently, and with my knowledge I can be the catalyst between our clients and my technical colleagues. I try to ask the right questions and often get a good answer to the question behind the question. This enables engineering to develop the requirements into the right technical solution.
Do you have an example of such a process?
The Belgian Gebroeders Geens have been making a very successful machine, the Knikmops, for decades. They wanted to make the step from diesel to a fully electrically powered vehicle, without compromising on performance or ease of use. And they succeeded brilliantly: the machine now has more than enough capacity to be used all day long and is just as easy to use as before. It sounds simple, but we were able to add a lot of value through our advice and technical knowledge. We have taken into account for example: the available space in the machine, the different ambient temperatures in which the machine operates, tuning with the electric motor, the desired power and the necessary charging time. All the requirements ultimately determine the best solution.
Teamwork: why is that important?
My motivator is teamwork so I can make a difference. I try to get my colleagues to understand the exact needs of the customer. That way, we can jointly tackle issues that are sometimes simple, but often challenging. It is very important for me to create a bond of trust with customers so that they open up and together we can go down the right path. If we can do that, we avoid tunnel vision and create real added value. Getting everyone involved is what it’s all about and that’s what makes my job so much fun!
“People really listen to you here.”
You’ve been working at Intercel for over 10 years, what’s the secret?
Intercel is a very committed employer. There is room for the individual both professionally and personally. I have always been given many opportunities for personal development. You have a lot of influence on your role in the company and people listen carefully to you. Intercel is a real family business and you notice that every day. There is a lot of freedom in working hours. I know all my colleagues well and because you speak to each other often, valuable relationships are created. Intercel is also a very alert company in a dynamic market. The technical possibilities change quickly, but also the industries we work for become more and more diverse. This dynamism and working for Intercel is challenging and, above all, fun.
What is the best business moment that you have experienced?
An intensive project for a large client with many different machines. Initially, we were going to supply a solution based on customised batteries, but that turned out not to be possible straight away. We were then allowed to deliver ready-made products whereby the client would build the solution himself. They were disappointed, especially with the technical quality. We were then quickly asked to apply our full expertise and have been building our cell to pack lithium batteries for this company for over two years now. It is now one of our largest clients.
iVT and electrification, tell me more?
The iVT in Karlsruhe is a trade fair where all suppliers in the field of electrification present themselves to manufacturers in the Garden-Park-Building segment. The parties at the fair really need each other, because batteries or an electric motor alone are not the solution. The batteries and other components must be efficient enough together for the final solution to be practical. Intercel is an open and flexible party and we like to work with partners and achieve the desired result together. In this way, we can get a relatively simple and quick picture of the performance of the machine after electrification.
Customised battery, what is that exactly?
The basis is customised cell to pack lithium batteries, specially designed in-house by our engineers for a customer project. We look at all the wishes and requirements of the customer and this leads to exactly the desired electrical machine. The desired specifications, such as capacity, various output voltages and load capacity are the starting point and we ensure that our part fits the machine. This is in essence the concept of Accu op Maat. We combine our knowledge and experience and take into account the technical requirements, commercial interests and legislation exactly.
What will you present at the iVT?
A lot! We are bringing a new generation of lithium batteries with improved energy density. Our batteries are now even easier to change during operation. The performance of our customised battery systems can be monitored in real time. This gives a customer full control over the machine fleet. We offer more flexibility with different output voltages from our customised batteries. And last-but-not-least the improved possibilities to use the electrical machine itself as an energy storage system.
What is high on your wish list for electrification?
I am particularly interested in complex questions, so when I think about it I would be very interested in a machine that is used in woodcutting, for example. A machine right in the middle of nowhere. To develop the right electrical solution for this, together with my colleagues, would be a great challenge.