Climate-friendly logistics with NORD

Highly efficient drive solutions from NORD DRIVESYSTEMS support DHL on its way to climate-friendly logistics.

By 2050, DHL wants to reduce its logistics-related emissions to zero. To achieve this aim, the international transport service provider relies on latest technologies and sustainable solutions – such as in its logistics centre at the Cologne Bonn Airport. There, 800 highly efficient, variant-reduced LogiDrive drive systems from NORD DRIVESYSTEMS guarantee energy-saving, reliable and low-maintenance operation. The drive solutions were individually tailored to DHL's customer requirements and enable an exceptional energy balance with optimum cost efficiency.

Customer profile

Since 1 August 2019, a new air freight hub at the Cologne Bonn Airport has been part of the DHL network. “With the air freight logistics centre at the Cologne Bonn Airport, we achieve higher efficiency and larger sorting capacities, and can thus offer our network and our customers a better service“, Jörg Balmes, Senior Manager Technical – MHS at DHL Airways GmbH explains the reasons for the new construction.

The DHL hub at the Cologne Bonn Airport provides a warehouse space of 12,000 m2 and a sorting capacity of 10,000 parcels per hour. A 400-metre main sorter and a 200-metre flyer sorter sort the different parcel sizes – 24 hours a day, six days a week. Added to this are conveyors with a total length of 2.5 km, which are operated by NORD drive systems with a belt speed of up to 2 m/s and an acceleration of up to 5 m/s2.

Project requirements

DHL’s aim: Zero emissions in 2050

As the world’s leading logistics company, DHL assumes the responsibility to set a good example in terms of sustainability, and is investing heavily in environmentally friendly logistics solutions. “In 2050, DHL wants to be emission-free. The topic of energy efficiency is therefore of highest priority to us. The building in Cologne/Bonn is CO2-neutral and is equipped with latest technologies, such as an ice storage tank for heating and cooling. For the conveyor belt motors, energy efficiency as well as short maintenance intervals have also been the main requirement. NORD was able to deliver this to us and therefore we are very satisfied with the NORD motors.” Jörg Balmes emphasises.

Application solution

NORD LogiDrive – a highly efficient and variant-reduced system solution

A total of 800 LogiDrive drive systems and 268 stand-alone motors are used in various applications, such as curved conveyors, conveyor belts, mergers/pushers, vertical conveyors, telescopic conveyors and lifters. The LogiDrive drive units are characterised by high efficiency, fast ramp times (up to 5 m/s2), compact design, minimum maintenance requirements and a long service life. They ensure energy-saving, safe and smooth operation at DHL.

LogiDrive is an energy-efficient, service-friendly and standardised modular system consisting of motor, gear unit and frequency inverter. It was adapted and optimised by the NORD intralogistics experts in close coordination with the integrator and its suppliers. For the logistics centre at the Cologne Bonn Airport, the choice was a combination of an IE4 permanent magnet synchronous motor (rated powers from 1.1 up to 5.5 kW), a two-stage bevel gear unit or a helical gear unit and a NORDAC LINK frequency inverter, which is installed close to the motor. The variant using the helical gear unit is used for merge applications, which require particularly high dynamics and speeds.

Complete drive systems from a single source

Thanks to plug-and-play technology, LogiDrive systems are extremely easy to service and install. The entire system has a modular design, so that all components of the drive technology can be individually serviced. This minimises maintenance and repair costs. All NORDAC LINK frequency inverter connections are made via simple plug connectors and have been individually configured for DHL. A total of 12 plugs are available for encoder feedback, safe stop and others. In addition, the frequency inverters are equipped with a maintenance switch and a key switch for setup operation. An integrated Ethernet-based bus system was also implemented. The combination of an integrated PROFINET interface and these other components in a single compact solution was launched on the market in 2019 – and at the time was an absolute unique selling point for NORD.

To complete the drive solution, NORD also supplied the cables. Potential sources of error were thus eliminated, facilitating commissioning. The compact LogiDrive drive system design saves space and is light in weight due to the aluminium housing. Thanks to individual optimisation in the motor shaft bearing arrangement, noise emissions could be reduced, ensuring sufficiently quiet operation at the Cologne Bonn Airport. Due to the motor design and the frequency inverter operation, the same motor variant can be universally used worldwide.

Optimum energy consumption performance in the partial load range

Speaking of motors: They are designed for maximum loads of 35 kg/m – a standard in the post & parcel field. However, since the majority of parcels are lighter, the drives mainly work in the partial load range. Here, the LogiDrive system solution plays to one of its special strengths: Thanks to PMSM (Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor) technology, the motors feature a high efficiency over a wide speed and torque range and thus offer optimum energy consumption performance even in partial load and partial speed ranges – a clear advantage over the conventional asynchronous technology. In combination with the 300% overload capacity of the IE4 motors that optimally covers peak loads, only one single motor size can be used instead of different motor sizes. Depending on the performance requirement, an inverter operates it with different frequencies. This results in a variant reduction with additional space and cost advantages.

Individual variant reduction

Variant reduction benefits the operator with optimised operation of his system and significant cost savings in the areas of administration, service and spare parts stocking over the entire service life of the drives. As a result, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) remains low. For DHL, the minimisation of drive variants and thus the associated streamlining of storage and service processes was also essential: “The reduction of motor variants was very important for us. We are talking about warehousing and spare parts provision”, says Jörg Balmes and adds: “We were able to reduce the 27 variants we had in use to 10. This makes repair and maintenance work much easier for us.”

NORD drives support DHL on its way to climate-friendly logistics

The operation of parcel distribution centres is energy-intensive. Highly efficient drive systems such as the NORD LogiDrive drive system significantly reduce energy consumption and therefore CO2 emissions. In this way, they decisively contribute to more sustainability and climate protection in logistics. Furthermore, a fast Return on Investment (ROI) is achieved due to their high efficiency. In summer 2019, the DHL hub at the Cologne Bonn Airport was put into operation. Since then, the NORD drives have been running smoothly and everybody is highly satisfied. Jörg Balmes is delighted: “We have been working with the NORD drives in continuous operation for three years now and the failure rate is extremely low. Consulting and servicing also convinced us. In challenges, NORD always supported us with quick solutions.” NORD supported the project from the first enquiry through to the commissioning.

Standard motors

Asynchronous motors

  • Performance: 0,16 HP - 75 HP
  • Global approvals and acceptances
  • Efficiency classes: IE1, IE2, IE3

NORDAC LINK - SK 155E - Motor Starter

Quick installation, wear-free starting

  • Power range: 0.06 - 3.0 kW
  • Protection class: IP65
  • Wall mounting
  • Simple installation and maintenance due to full pluggability
  • Free configuration for your application

NORDAC LINK - SK 250E - Frequency Inverter

Rapid installation, simple maintenance

  • Power range: 0.37 - 7.5 kW
  • Protection class: IP55, IP65
  • Wall mounting
  • Simple installation and maintenance due to full pluggability
  • Free configuration for your application

Standard synchronous motors

Synchronous motors

  • Performance: 1.5 HP - 7.5 HP
  • Efficiency class IE4
  • Global approvals and acceptances

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