“Technology and support must go hand in hand”
Lowering the impact of the company on the environment as much as possible; this objective is high on the priority list of Cras. For this purpose, the West-Flemish company is combining sources with ExtraPower, which has already installed charging stations at various sites of the timber company.
Anyone who says Cras, automatically thinks of wood. And rightly so: the wood processor and timber merchant has its central production in Waregem and has large warehouses both in the horse city and in Deerlijk. In addition, Cras has 18 ‘woodshops’, nicely spread throughout Belgium.
“From our core business, we are already automatically closely involved in the environment”, explains COO Hendrik D’hont. “This is why, years ago, it was already a well-considered decision to lower our ecological footprint considerably through various investments. For example, we were a pioneer in providing our company roofs with solar panels. In late 2021, we decided to gradually switch to electric cars for all our employees who drive less than 25,000 km per year. At present, we already have three electric cars and 25 new cars have been ordered. Then it is a logical thought to invest at the same time in sufficient charging stations at our various sites.”
For this reason, Cras decided to join forces with ExtraPower. The specialist from Beernem focuses on installing solar parks and charging infrastructure for small businesses and the industry. “We already worked successfully for years together with Elektro Himpe, an installation company which was recently taken over by ExtraPower2”, continues Hendrik D’hont. “They completely met the profile of the installer that we were searching for: a partner which can provide total solutions by guaranteeing the solar panels, the battery as well as the charging systems. They anticipate this in a focused way with well-substantiated proposals, the correct management and a professional practical elaboration. The financial side is also correct and comprises advice in order to be able to enjoy support measures.”
“Cras is a very interesting customer for us”, emphasises Jannes Soutaer, CEO of ExtraPower. “It is a company which is active at various sites and chooses professional partners for investing sustainably.”
“Woodshops from Cras are ideal locations for charging electric cars. During the day, the staff can enjoy the generated solar energy to a maximum.”Jannes Soutaer, CEO at ExtraPower
Technology and service.
The collaboration between both parties began with the installation of a solar panel park and charging hub for the Cras Woodshop in Oostende. “Woodshops from Cras are ideal locations for charging electric cars”, explains Jannes Soutaer. “During the day, the staff can enjoy the generated solar energy to a maximum. If the accessiblity to the woodshops allows this, third parties can also make use of the charging stations.”
“It is our intention to equip all our branches with charging stations”, Hendrik D’hont joins in. “If we offer employees an electric car and they have to go to roughly Durbuy for a meeting, it is logical that they can also charge their electric car there, so that they have enough drive range to be able to go home again.”
“All software is integrated for a smooth administrative system and invoicing of the revenues for charging external vehicles and the costs for our employees charging at home.”Yentl Maeckelberghe, EV charging infrastructure coordinator at ExtraPower
Vital to this is the choice for high-quality charging stations. For this purpose, ExtraPower works together intensely with Smappee. “The charging station market is still quite young”, knows Yentl Maeckelberghe, coordinator of charging station infrastructure at ExtraPower. “Many people feel called to ‘jump’ on this, but because not everyone is capable of providing the right combination of strong technology and a powerful service, after a while you see that a number of players disappear from the market again. From this realisation, we have tested the solutions of a range of providers.”
The technology of Smappee ensures that the charging cycle of the car adjusts to the predicted yield of solar energy. “Furthermore, all the software is integrated for a smooth administrative system and invoicing of, for instance, the revenues for charging external vehicles and the costs for our employees charging at home”, continues Maeckelberghe. “The technological high-quality products go hand in hand with a fast and professional support. You notice that the most when you have to solve a challenge somewhere.”
The project in Oostende offered the perfect example of such a challenge. “Cras rightly chooses to strongly secure their IT infrastructure”, says Jannes Soutaer. “Since these procedures do not completely correspond to what is required for the standard installation of solar panels, we had to find a suitable solution so that the installation would not be delayed for days. Partly thanks to the proactive support from Smappee and a smooth communication between the three parties, the defect was sorted within an hour.”
For Cras, ExtraPower also guaranteed the installation of 18 double charging stations at the site in Waregem, which were all connected to solar energy. “As the fleet of electric cars increases, we wish to install up to 30 charging stations there. Meanwhile, we have also begun with the installation of charging stations at home, for people who already have an electric car. There will also be a ‘supercharger‘ in Deerlijk. We are now looking at what is happening in the lorry market, to also switch to electric vehicles there too in the long term”, decides Hendrik D’hont.
Installation partner. ExtraPower
Industry. Wood processing and timber trade
Cras is well-known as an important wood processor and timber merchant. The central production is located in Waregem, where the company – just as in Deerlijk – has large warehouses.
In addition, Cras has 18 ‘woodshops’, nicely spread throughout Belgium. The company transforms wood into relevant products for building, interior and garden.
In the function of the electrification of the fleet, Cras wishes to equip its large sites as well as the 18 woodshops with charging stations for its own employees and third parties. They will receive power from the solar panels which almost every site is equipped with. Where possible, the company wishes to also make the charging stations available to third parties and has charging stations installed at employees’ homes.
At Cras, ExtraPower guarantees total solutions regarding renewable energy. This comprises the installation of solar panels, batteries and charging stations. For the charging stations, ExtraPower as ‘Certified installer’ works intensely together with Smappee. The EV Wall solutions have meanwhile already been integrated into the Cras Woodshop in Oostende (pilot project, 6 charging stations) and the central branch in Waregem (18 double charging stations). In order to respond to the increase in the electric fleet, the capacity at the headquarters in Waregem will be extended to 30 double charging stations.
- Significant decrease in the ‘carbon footprint’ at Cras.
- Power supply for electric cars at the company site and at employees’ homes.
- Optimal return from the solar panels.
- Extra source of income thanks to, where possible, making charging stations available to the public.
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