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6 min

Garden Logistics in the Open Air

Springtime means time to get out in the garden. After the cold winter, many gardeners are keen to get back out into the garden to start digging over the soil, mulching, weeding, repotting seedlings, and planting flowers and vegetables. For their hard work to bear fruit, gardeners need fertilizer, compost, pots for planting, shovels, and much more. It’s not just peak season at the garden center, but also for the many KION brand trucks working behind the scenes. After all, no one has the strength to carry a pallet full of compost bags by hand…


“She’s a reliable old lady,” says Andreas Hitzler, patting the frame of a Linde H35 forklift. Hitzler has been working as a logistics expert at the Christoph OHG gardening and landscaping company in Aindling near Augsburg for more than 20 years. That’s quite a long time, but Linde forklifts have been there even longer than Hitzler. “One model was in use for a full 25 years,” explains Hitzler, “we used it for hours every day.” It was used to load and unload trucks with garden products, wooden components, or tree trunks amongst other things. “Transporting large trees would quite simply be impossible without forklifts,” notes Hitzler. For him and his colleagues, the forklifts from KION subsidiary Linde Material Handling are as he says, “part of the family”.

The company landscapes gardens, biotopes, and streams, moving many tonnes of material in the process including stones, soil, wood, and plants. The family business also cultivates conifers, fruit trees, shrubs, and perennials in its own nursery covering an area of approximately 30 hectares. It is a thriving business in every sense of the word, involving long-term thinking and planning—after all, a tree doesn’t grow overnight. Trust and reliability are key values when it comes to collaboration with partners. “Our workshop foreman has a good working relationship with Linde MH and can get hold of spare parts in no time at all, if necessary,” explains Andreas Hitzler. It is no surprise, then, that Christoph chose Linde once again to expand its fleet in 2019: an all-electric Linde MM10 with lithium-ion batteries.

Order Pickers are Flourishing

As the flowering season returns, so too do the smells and aromas of the summer garden. As you walk through the Dehner garden center in Rain am Lech, you are greeted by the fragrance of bromeliads, eucalyptus, primroses and the faint buzz of electric Linde trucks whizzing quietly through the aisles transporting more than 5000 CC containers every day. These containers are a staple in the garden center industry. Mobile, stackable, and made of hot-dip galvanized steel they are used to transport shrubs, climbing roses, bergenias—the list is endless!

Using the Linde N20 and T20 order pickers, CC containers can be loaded lengthwise, which not only ensures fast loading and unloading, but also saves a lot of space. To ensure maximum safety when transporting, the specialists on site have developed a clamp system that securely fastens the CC containers when they are lifted and then automatically releases them when they are lowered. The prongs were specially made for the exact dimensions of the CC containers. “Flexibility is our strength. Our expertise enables us to meet almost any customer requirement and offer tailor-made solutions,” explains Johann Kneißl, Head of Workshop Sales at Linde dealer GRUMA.

Number of Accidents Halved

However, sometimes it takes more than “just” a powerful industrial truck. After all, in addition to lifting and handling performance, the safety of employees and goods is paramount. This is an absolute priority for the Husqvarna Group. The company (which also owns brands such as Gardena) is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of gardening tools. With the aim of further optimizing the already very high level of safety required for internal logistics processes, Gerhard Hirschle, EHS Manager for Gardena Group at Husqvarna, contacted the safety experts at Linde MH.

Together, they conducted the “Linde Safety Scan” at the Laichingen logistics center, a structured consulting service in which all work processes are reviewed and suggestions put forward to improve the safety of internal traffic. In addition to safety and assistance systems for the trucks, the measures suggested also included clear route markings and mandatory use of high-visibility vests. The result: The amount of damage decreased by more than 50 percent. Husqvarna manager Hirschle’s verdict is unsurprisingly very positive: “Increased safety and lower costs—with Linde Safety Scan we have managed to achieve both.”

Carefree Operation in Spring

Nothing but tulips as far as the eye can see—that’s Holland in spring. Pastel green, sunshine yellow, or salmon pink, the fields burst into the most splendid colors, especially in the second half of April. In the Dutch village of Hazerswoude-Dorp, about halfway between Antwerp and Rotterdam, GROEN Direkt is the place to go for gardening enthusiasts—not just in April, but all year round. GROEN doesn’t only sell tulips, but just about every type of flower and plant. The name of the neighboring village is testament to how long growing plants has been a tradition in this area. It’s called Boskoop, just like the variety of apple (or to be precise, the apple is actually named after the village).

Every last inch of storage space at GROEN is utilized. The whole place is full of plants, flowers, and young trees, and forklifts are continuously bringing in new ones and taking away others. Clearly, no one would be able to do all this work with a wheelbarrow alone. That’s why the GROEN team uses the KION brand STILL on site. “We make particular use of the flexible RX60-35 here,” explains Mitchell Hoegee, Account Manager at STILL. At times, the electric forklifts are in continuous operation from 7 a.m. until the end of the working day at 5 p.m.

So that their own employees can focus on their actual job in the garden center, GROEN management ordered the rental package including the repair service from STILL. “Our service technicians always arrive quickly on site when needed,” says Mitchell Hoegee. Battery replacement is also carried out on site by STILL. This normally happens if a battery has been damaged or is more than five to six years old.

Protecting the Climate, Saving Money

Starwood, a manufacturer of chipboard and ornate wood panels for gardening, is now also relying on electric drive systems. The diesel forklift trucks at the Inegöl site in Türkiye were replaced by 34 RX electric forklift trucks and seven R07 tractors from STILL. These are used to move up to 4500 tonnes of material every day. Head of Logistics Tahir Kitapci is very satisfied with the switch to battery—and not just for environmental reasons. “As a rule of thumb, the operating costs of a diesel forklift truck are around 200 euros per day. This compares to approximately 80 euros for STILL electric forklift trucks,” explains Kitapci. Not only saving money, but saving the environment in the process: It sounds like Starwood is doing everything right.

New Habitat at the KION Plant

But let’s get back outside and into the garden—or more precisely: into a sand meadow biotope worthy of protection. This habitat was discovered at KION brand Linde MH’s plant in Kahl am Main when old halls were demolished. An unexpected opportunity arose to directly promote biodiversity instead of just providing the trucks and equipment to do so, as is usually the case. It was immediately clear to the management that this valuable habitat for animals and plants had to be preserved!

However, new halls were to be built on the very spot where the sand meadow biotope was found. The manager of the construction project, Markus Kellermann, came up with a solution: The valuable layer of soil, including vegetation, was transferred to a new location on the site. This new area was also marked out with tree trunks to create a habitat for insects, small animals, and plants. The result is a new habitat for flora and fauna on the plant site, which is now also home to a new fully automated spare parts warehouse with a state-of-the-art high-bay warehouse, multi-shuttle system, innovative office space, and an exhibition area. Once again nature and intralogistics are living side-by-side, giving each other the space they need.