Philippe GELIS’ interview – Technical Sales Engineer at Gillet Tools
Gillet Tools is a company located in Nogent, in the North East of France. This is where products are entirely developed from their research and conception to their production. The company is specialized in innovation and specific tools manufacturing for various industrial sectors.
Founded in 1977, it was first specialized in very specific hand tools we can’t find on the market, with notably the development of a wire cutter aimed for the electrical industry. Then it quickly chose to redirect on the automobile industry for brands such as Renault and Peugeot in the creation of niche products like metal parts machined to work on vehicles for example. All of the products manufactured by Gillet respond to a custom technical specification set together with the final customer specially for him. Thus, by adapting the solution to the product and its environment, Gillet has now more than 10 000 references to its catalogue.
Before the Covid-19 health crisis, 60% of Gillet’s turnover was achieved with car manufacturers directly, while the 40% left were driven by its Research Unit and the conception of tools becoming standards for specific sectors. The company’s products were always identified to be related to their final user and not Gillet. Since then, it has diversified itself through various sectors such as agriculture with the creation of fixing clamps for vegetation, as well as the aviation industry with the development of crimp tool for aircrafts’ screws. Today, the automobile industry is still Gillet’s primary field with the achievement of almost 85% of its turnover, notably through the development of partnerships with Europeans manufacturers.
We apply for many patents because we start each of our projects from a blank page. Thus, we have a genuine design force and advanced industrial abilities with 90% of our integrated process lying in various skills: machining, cutting, stamping, plastic injection, thermoforming, surface finishing, heat treatment, etc.
Among the sectors it evolves on, Gillet began on the rail industry by operating alongside with the SNCF and RATP in particular. The company was able to observe that carriages often need technical maintenance. However, it implies to handle carriages in workshop and to move them from one workstation to another. These frequent moves of a few dozen meters only can be problematic: they can be completed through different manners but none of them is genuinely satisfying. The simplest one consists of moving empty 30 tons carriages manually with several people. These are tedious and dangerous moves facing more and more difficult safety standards.
You can also move carriages with wireless electrical pushers which can carry up to 300 tons. However, it is an expensive solution since it costs 400 000€ in addition with training and license amounts it involves. It represents a consequent investment which is not necessarily a flexible solution. Kleinlokomotive is also a potential option, yet it is not that common on railway sites. Thus, procedures are complicated with long waiting periods and high hourly rates to move carriages a few dozen meters only. Moreover, it is a shunting locomotive working with diesel and releasing non-breathable smokes inside workshops which involves additional air treatment systems.
In order to respond to an increasing demand regarding difficult carriages moves, Gillet has pictured and designed Move-It™. It is a handling trolley aimed to move rolling loads on railroads. Thus, it allows to reduce the operator’s arduousness who is released from any physical effort while securing the operation thanks to a brake shim.
Move-It™ is a totally electric tool which is flexible thanks to its size and weight. It is simple to use and doesn’t requires any license or training to be used. It is suitable for technical maintenance centres as well as mobile teams thanks to its foldable aspect and easy to carry dimension allowing to put it in a car trunk for example. Thus, this tool facilitates direct technical maintenance on railroads and carriages loading as well as accurate positioning thanks to its low travel speed.
The only negative point is that the tool was powered by a lead battery so far. It didn’t provide the system much autonomy since it could be used on an 80 meters length only before needing a long recharge. The Move-It™ lifetime was also limited since the trolley couldn’t handle deep discharging (less than 20% autonomy) which was considerably affecting its efficiency.
To compensate with problems related to the use of lead battery, Gillet has opted for lithium batteries by choosing to collaborate with TYVA Energie.
Indeed, there are many criteria why TYVA Energie was chosen as supplier starting with the power and autonomy our batteries bring to their final application. These are two essential points regarding Move-It™ in addition to the system’s weight which must be limited in order to easily carry and handle the trolley. TYVA Energie also brings solutions to this aspect since we have ranges of light and compact lithium batteries which don’t clutter up their application. Last but not least, some others significant criteria are our batteries’ sustainable and eco-responsible aspect thanks to their designing and reconditioning besides being manufactured in France contrary to many batteries available on the market. This environment and circular economy friendly operating mode is an integral part of our DNA and represents an important argument for Gillet, as well as its final customers and retailers who are also sensitive to these values.
Thus, in order to answer Gillet’s requirements, we chose to integrate to Move-It™ system our A5 standard lithium battery which is the smallest product of our Moduloo Ax range. On one side, it is characterized by its compactness since it is a bit more than 20 cm long and wide for a total weight of less than 5 kg, with a format perfectly suitable with its final support. On the other side, it comes with an outstanding power thanks to its 800 Wh embedded energy to supply the tool on an important length and consequent duration, greatly optimizing its autonomy and efficiency.
TYVA Energie also worked on its battery’s aesthetic to match with rail regulations. On top of that, we have added two aluminium plates for the system’s electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) with a totally tailor-made result. Thus, as part of our full support from the project’s definition to its outcome, we have received Gillet at TYVA Energie’s production site to work together on adjustments regarding the trolley and its functioning.
Thus, the trolley has now an exceptional energy density allowing it to carry carriages up to 150 tons. Its autonomy has significantly improved allowing longer application. Its use can also be constant without worrying about its state of charge since it is a swappable battery which can be removed at any time to be replaced with a fully charged one.
Its weight remains one of the most outstanding assets since the whole system is less than 50 kg heavy which confirms it is a tool easy to carry and to handle for its user. Lightness combined with the strength of Move-It™ as well as its eco-responsible dimension using green energy are what makes it an outstanding and pioneering product.
A new version of Move-It™ was developed which benefits from ergonomics improvement as well as a new energy source provided by TYVA Energie’s lithium battery.
A promising future already appears for Move-It™. Indeed, the tool has won the French Rails Awards’ Innovation Price in September 2022 on the booth of Business France during Innotrans, the international trade fair for transport technology held in Berlin, Germany.
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