"Like a fantastic Christmas present"

Global yet local – a defining feature of the KION Group. For Antonio Paulo de Almeida Pereira and others like him, German engineering is simply the best.

Working with his hands is in Antonio Paulo Almeida Pereira's blood: “When we are developing a new chassis and I get to assemble the first piece and weld it, I forget about everything else around me,” says the welder from KION Warehouse Systems in Reutlingen with a twinkle in his eye. “I'm like a little kid getting a fantastic Christmas present.”

The passion that Portuguese-born Pereira has for complex challenges could scarcely be in better hands. The KWS plant was established 120 years ago under the name Ernst Wagner Apparatebau. It has always been regarded as a place of innovation and it was where the first dishwasher and the hand pallet truck were patented.

Today, it specialises in producing warehouse trucks that travel along narrow aisles to load and unload goods from high bays. In Reutlingen, both Linde and STILL products are manufactured to customers' own specifications, many with dizzyingly high masts. Around 80 per cent are one-offs. World-class service and the benefits of German engineering go hand in hand at KWS, as they do in the rest of the KION Group. This is just one of the reasons why KION is currently number one in the European market and number two worldwide in terms of new trucks sold. Customers know that the KION brand companies always find the optimum intralogistics solutions tailored to meet their specific requirements.

“I don't like doing the same thing every day”

Father of two Pereira particularly enjoys alternating between Linde and STILL, KION's two premium brands. “I couldn't stand at the production line and do the same thing every day, I need new challenges all the time,” he says in a broad Swabian accent, acquired after leaving his home village of São Martinho de Candoso at the age of 23. “You just have to make your job into something you value.”

Everything at the plant has its place and is neatly arranged in the various work areas such as the machining section, the paint shop and the welding workshop. Pereira's work station is spacious with enough room for the bench on which he often welds massive pieces of steel together. When the sparks fly, the fire-resistant door needs to be firmly closed.

Sometimes Paulo Pereira's job is back-breaking. To wind down, he cycles the twelve kilometres from his home in Dettingen an der Erms to the plant. Last year, he clocked up around 3,000 kilometres under his own steam. "You need goals in life, otherwise you just go round in circles," says the welder proudly. Sometimes he even takes a drawing for a new product home with him to examine it closely so that he can work quickly and cleanly the next day. "For me, the more difficult it is, the more interesting it is."

Working together on the perfect solution

When they get a tricky order, the whole KWS team – managers, engineers, production managers and welders – work together to find the perfect solution. "I think 'centre of excellence' means ability and skills, all brought together. We finish off 100 per cent of every task, which is why I like working at KION." And Paulo Pereira particularly likes the international mix at his plant: "I am always proud when I tell them at home in Portugal about my workmates from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia, and my pal from Romania."