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7 min

Achieving great things together

Collaboration is one of the four core corporate values of the KION Group. It is deeply embedded at all levels within our Group, from inter-brand communication and cross-departmental partnerships to close working relationships within employee teams. After all, we all know that we can achieve more as a team than we can alone. In this challenging ‘COVID year’, this same team spirit has been brought to bear in our wider communities, thanks to helpful staff who have shown great commitment and ingenuity in providing support to other organizations in the face of the pandemic. We would like to introduce some of these dedicated people to you here.


Our shared KION Group values

Courage, collaboration, integrity, and excellence are the four values of the KION Group and its brand companies STILL, Linde Material Handling, Baoli, and Dematic. Over 1,000 employees worldwide were consulted during the development of our shared values. Colleagues at all hierarchical levels and across all business units and regions were involved in the survey. This is how we ensured that the values reflect and represent the entire KION Group. And it is the only way to guarantee that our values are and remain an integral part of our everyday work.

Believing in one another and approaching tasks together. Sharing ideas openly and offering commitment. Building long-term relationships and always treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves. These are the principles underpinning collaboration within the KION Group. So it’s no surprise that many of our employees are real team players in their private lives as well. People who look beyond their own horizons as a matter of principle and, when faced with challenges, ask themselves: How can I help here? How can we overcome this situation together? We would like to introduce you to some of these people who have found their own answers to these questions when faced with the coronavirus pandemic:

Jim Terpstra and Matt Brechting from Grand Rapids, Michigan, show how to use their skills in a meaningful way away from work with their commitment to FIRST (For the Inspiration of Science and Technology), a worldwide community that wants to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators. As mentors on "That ONE Team" #4967 (ONE for "Our Next Engineers"), they are part of a group of mentors that support around 15 students in their free time. Normally they design robots and compete against other teams. Due to the pandemic, however, they made other plans and took part in the "1 Million PPE Challenge" (PPE for "Personal Protection Equipment"). In Michigan, FIRST was challenging teams to donate or manufacture a total of 1 million face shields, face masks, and safety glasses to hospitals, first responders, and others on the front lines. To date, around 2.25 million parts have been produced, providing tremendous support for the medical staff who are at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic and risking their lives.

In addition, Jim, Matt and the students are taking part in a project called "Folding@home". This is a distributed computing project where citizen scientists volunteer to run protein dynamics and COVID-19 simulations on their home computers. They use the power of their private computers to generate a high-performance “supercomputer” which helps scientists to provide new opportunities for developing therapeutics. Several relevant protein structures have already been discovered that could provide the basis for new therapeutic options – an outstanding result that could only be achieved thanks to the power of the collaborative "supercomputer". And thus, a perfect example of how collaboration can achieve great things, especially in view of the pandemic.

Joseph Brassell has also been using his expertise in 3D printing since March to help people during the pandemic. In addition to his full-time job and studies, he has invested many hours of his free time since March to help protect people working in hospitals, care homes and food retailing in Michigan. Joseph already had two 3D printers, which he used to make face visors and special ear savers that prevent face masks from slipping off. With the help of an appeal via the ‘Gofundme’ internet platform, he received donations from a large number of supporters, which he invested in a third 3D printer and other materials. By the summer, when the pandemic began to abate in the USA, he had produced around 2,000 individual protective items, which he distributed to local institutions.

To reach even more people, he joined the non-profit network 3DC19. “The 3D printing community as a whole came together in a massive effort in this time of need,” says Joseph, describing the countrywide collaborative project. “If someone developed a different way of printing PPE or a new design with more efficient, updated printer settings, we shared it, helped others who were having printing problems, and exchanged parts, because it was very difficult to get things from China to keep the printers operational during this time. The collaboration was truly remarkable.” He describes his motivation very clearly. “I believe in the principle that if you can do something to help, you should do it. And that was an important driving factor.”

The safety measures that were put in place in light of the pandemic at STILL in Hamburg in the spring are a good example of how collaboration works within the KION subsidiaries and how individual employees think beyond their own specialist area. Normally, the STILL central workshop’s team of 36 people is responsible for building operating equipment, prototypes, spare parts and “anything made of steel”. But when the pandemic reached Germany in the spring, quick solutions had to be found to ensure the safety of employees in the factory and offices. This is where Gunar Wintzer stepped in. Together with the company doctor Dr. Gesine Büge and Steffen Stech, Head of Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Protection, he set out to find quick, pragmatic and above all safe solutions. “We were convinced that it would take too long to order protective barriers from external contractors and wanted to manage this internally somehow,” he explains.

First, they analyzed the situation and took a close look at each individual workstation. The team then developed standard solutions for the situations that occurred most frequently in the offices and in the factory – solutions for which all the materials could simply be ordered from a list. Entire partition walls were installed at the vehicle lines where employees work back to back. But Gunar and his team also made custom-fitted pieces for more unusual areas such as the company restaurant. All in all, it took only a few weeks from the first walkthrough in mid/end March to the comprehensive installation of the safety features. The trainees also made a significant contribution to the project. “It has been a living process so far,” comments Gunar. “Of course, it was a lot of work, but my team pulled together brilliantly. It was also an example of excellent teamwork, and I would particularly like to emphasize the great working relationship we had with Dr. Gesine Büge and Steffen Stech.”

Washington was one of the first US states where the coronavirus led to the closure of schools and businesses. At the same time, the demand for food increased at food banks, shelters for the homeless and other care programs. At the time, Kate Ericksen was looking for a project that she and her Dematic team in Seattle could join as part of this year’s ‘Power the Future of Community Week’. The original plan of Kate Ericksen and her team was to volunteer at a food bank. However, the special circumstances of the pandemic – contact restrictions on the one hand and increased demand on the other – necessitated a rethink. New, more efficient ways needed to be found to distribute more food to more people, and to do this in a safe way.

For this reason, Kate contacted Food Lifeline. This non-profit organization supplies food at discounted prices to more than 300 different organizations, which in turn distribute meals to people in western Washington. Together they organized a virtual food bank. Donations were then collected via this online platform, which Food Lifeline used to supply food both to local food banks and to families in need directly in their homes. For just 30 dollars, a family of four could be supported in this way for an entire week. US$ 575 in donations were raised at Dematic’s Seattle location, as Kate proudly reports: “We can really do something for the well-being of our community, especially when we work with institutions like Food Lifeline. We can have a much greater impact if we work together both within our organization and in our communities.”

The KION subsidiaries also collaborate seamlessly across brands. Colleagues from Linde MH in China were quick to respond when the demand for Baoli forklifts unexpectedly jumped in the spring and the company urgently needed experienced electric welders for its production. However, due to the effects of the pandemic, Baoli could not find suitable people. Without hesitation, Zhang Jianghuan and nine other welders from Linde MH in China traveled to the Baoli plant in Jinjiang and got down to work. “The entire support process went without a hitch,” says Zhang. “Collaboration creates a close relationship between us. As a member of the KION Group, we are constantly applying the KION values to show how important it is to stand shoulder to shoulder in order to overcome difficulties, especially in challenging times.”

It is people like Jim Terpstra, Matt Brechting, Joseph Brassell, Kate Ericksen, Gunar Wintzer and Zhang Jianghuan who deserve our utmost appreciation for their willingness to help, their ingenuity, and their passionate commitment. We are proud to count them among our worldwide team as real team players who can be relied upon in any situation.