Dematic’s software expertise is an enormous asset to KION
An interview with Chief Technology Officer Eike Böhm about the megatrends in the industry and what the new KION Group can offer.
Mr Böhm, you launched the new CTO organisation in 2016. What is the aim of the organisation?
The aim is to bring together all the technical functions under my leadership. Firstly, we want to increase the efficiency and speed with which we implement technical aspects. And the second major point is to generate synergies and to avoid duplication of work.
How far advanced are you with setting up the organisation?
The CTO organisation is, for the most part, already in place. The whole process was carried out in two phases. The first phase in 2016 involved bringing together Linde, STILL, America and Asia. Dematic has also been integrated since November. Our global organisation now consists of more than 2,000 developers, engineers, buyers and quality assurance experts, and we have also defined the processes that will govern how we work together. The team has become well integrated. This would not be possible without the work-related framework; we have to address specific topics. Our KION Material Cost Optimisation project, which aims to optimise material costs across all brand companies, has been a great success.
What would you say are the major trends in material handling and the supply chain industry at the moment?
In my view, there is one megatrend in our industry: we are seeing more and more end-to-end processes. End-to-end processes, material flows and data flows. It is our job to respond to this. Crucially, because of Dematic, we have now become a company that can implement end-to-end process optimisation for the customer, who in turn saves money. And, of course, end-to-end processes incorporate digitalisation, the topic that everyone is talking about. It also concerns the mechanical integration of processes; for example, trucks that are able to drive autonomously. Everything is based on the connectivity of these components in the supply chain. For that reason, process optimisation is the major issue for our business.
What opportunities do you see for research and development within the KION Group through the acquisition of Dematic?
What are the major projects in the CTO organisation for 2017?
Switching off the lights in big warehouses is a major talking point. Companies are looking to employ fewer people, or no people at all, and want to rely largely on automated systems. Robots are a central element for lights-out facilities. They come in two forms: stationary robots and mobile robots, which can move autonomously around the warehouse. This is a key project that we are working on. The second is to expand the Dematic IQ software platform so that we can dock our trucks onto it. We are also working on a major organisational project. It is all about increasing our development speeds so that we are in a position to introduce products to the market more quickly than we’ve been able to in the past. These are the three main topics for our CTO organisation.