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Gamification in logistics: Forklift simulator & more

Jumping from level to level as you navigate through all sorts of fantastical worlds is the aim in many computer, video and mobile games. But it’s not just kids and teenagers that are motivated by these sorts of challenges: Games increase motivation and performance no matter the age of the player. This is something that KION subsidiary brands Linde Material Handling, STILL and Dematic have also realized. They use so-called ‘gamification’ in areas such as digital forklift truck driving lessons, automated warehouses and at digital events.


Gamification is the term used to describe the integration of gaming elements into non-gaming environments. It is a trend that holds great potential for companies. The secret to its success is the emotions that arise when we play a game, such as the increased sense of determination we feel when we fail and the joy and motivation we feel when we are successful. It is these incentives that make players want to improve, learn new tricks, prove themselves to others and, ultimately, win! From employee training to customer meetings all the way through to digital events, KION brands Linde Material Handling, STILL and Dematic exploit the benefits of this gamification strategy.

Jelmen Lombarts from Belgium wanted to make forklift truck training more fun and motivational for learners. That’s why he brought his special simulator along for a test run at Linde Material Handling in Aschaffenburg. Like with other simulators, the learner driver sits in a replica forklift truck and can turn, steer, brake and accelerate as if it were the real thing. By putting on a pair of VR glasses, they are instantly transported to the warehouse floor, where they have to solve a variety of tasks. However, unlike conventional simulators, Lombarts’ contains integrated features that might be more at home in the world of online gaming: Each time the player completes a task in the game, another little achievement is unlocked. For example, the player might have to carefully load pallets while at the same time looking out for pedestrians. Only after they’ve mastered the skill of driving carefully and achieved all the intermediate goals will the player advance to the next level. At the end, there is a leaderboard, and a digital trophy for the player with the top score.

Digital forklift truck driving lessons with virtual reality.

At Linde Material Handling, Lombarts’ new game simulator has recently been put through its paces by four experienced forklift truck drivers. And the results were excellent. Forklift driving instructor and test driver Peter Seufert is delighted with the simulator. “The game is absolutely brilliant and a lot of fun.”

If the gamification simulator continues to prove as popular as it did with the test subjects in Aschaffenburg, it will become a key part of training for learner drivers, making lessons more varied, more efficient and more entertaining. The simulator has recently been featured in two television shows on German TV.

TV broadcast about gamification

If you want to see the digital driving lessons at Linde Material Handling in action, tune in to the following two documentaries about gamification. On Saturday, April 17, the segment about Linde will air at 17:35 p.m. in the ZDF report “Daddeln, gamen, Punkte sammeln—Wie Spiele im Alltag helfen” on its plan b program.

If you can’t wait for the broadcast, take a look at Arte’s online media library. At the start of April, the show Re: Nah dran, authentisch, echt—der Mensch im Mittelpunkt aired an episode entitled “Spielend zum Erfolg” (Playing for Success). From 10:50 onwards, there is a segment about driver training at Linde Material Handling.

A fun way to learn how an intralogistics warehouse works at Linde Material Handling

Linde Material Handling is also employing other gamification methods in order to deliver enjoyable intralogistics training to its employees. One such example is called “City of Goods.” In this training game, it isn’t politics and power struggles, war or religion that are the order of the day, but the fascinating world of material handling. In the 3D game, the Linde employee navigates a virtual warehouse—on foot, in this case—which familiarizes them with various work processes. They encounter logistics experts at the various stations, who give them challenges that they have to solve themselves. The aim of these training games is to ensure that all our employees around the world have the necessary basic knowledge of intralogistics. At the same time, it should help them become more aware of the challenges and potential areas for improvement to be found in the material flow. “City of Goods” is what is known as a “serious game”—a simulation that combines a gaming experience with a learning process. And it does so with great success. In fact, the intralogistics game is even gaining recognition beyond the KION Group: At the 20th World Media Festival, the manufacturer IMC AG has just won two awards for the game, which was developed in collaboration with Linde.

City of Goods: The game to learn about the daily work in a warehouse.

A virtual way to try before you buy with STILL forklifts

It’s not just learner drivers at Linde, but also STILL customers, who can take a virtual seat in one of our forklifts—and, in fact, they have been doing so for several years. The idea of integrating elements of gaming into customer communications came during the development of the STILL Easy app. With one click, the user is transported to the driver’s seat of a forklift truck where, by moving the tablet, they can take an interactive look around the cab and explore the workstation at their leisure. This offers a very realistic experience thanks to features such as a fully rotatable, high-resolution view of the truck, a 360° interior view of the driver’s cab, demonstration videos and slide shows. The idea of gamification is to give the customer a better sense of how the truck feels before they decide to buy. The app also offers a sort of interactive showroom, where all the relevant vehicle information is provided in one place. In 2013, the STILL EASY app won the German Prize for Business Communication. Since then, the app has continued to be developed and is now a key component of customer communications. A free version of the app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store.

Explore a virtual forklift truck with the STILL Easy app.

Gamification at Digital Dematic Events

How do you present a retail store when a global pandemic means social contact is restricted? By taking your event online! Together with Economic Development Lethbridge (Canada), Lethbridge College and Supply Chain Canada, Alberta Institute, KION subsidiary Dematic use a gamified approach—for example to host a collaborative event last fall. The digital event used elements of gaming in an innovative way to provide insights into a modern warehouse. The participants were able to engage in a 3D environment by walking around, interacting with each other and exploring automated solutions, including micro-fulfillment, automated mixed-case palletizing and driverless transport systems. Dematic also demonstrated how automated workflows and processes are set to develop even further for retail stores of the future.

The broad range of gamification methods we have seen here show how versatile games are and offer exciting opportunities not just for our leisure time, but also for our day-to-day work—no matter how old the participants. All this makes gamification a field of great interest for the KION subsidiaries, which will be the subject of much exploration in the future. After all, you have to play to win!