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Intralogistics at Ports: Trucks in Use around the World

The world’s ports provoke wanderlust, and are exciting and sometimes romantic places. With seagulls circling overhead, while cargo ships come into the berths and tons of freight cross the quayside, adventures get started. If the transport routes of container ships are the lifelines of globalization, the world’s ports are its heart. The KION Group and its brands with high-performance trucks play an essential part in keeping this heart beating and ensuring that world trade continues. We will show you where and how the trucks are used around the world. Our journey will take us from Germany to Malaysia, from shipyards to cruise ships and right through to the world’s freight ports.


A gigantic, skeletal steel structure in an enormous hall. Sparks fly and metal grinds together as the smooth exterior of the cruise ship is welded, stretching numerous stories up to the top deck. The huge ship will be called “Celebrity Reflections” and will be 315 meters long and 36.8 meters wide, with space for 3030 passengers in 1515 cabins. Here at the Meyer shipyard in Papenburg, in the picturesque district of Emsland near to Germany’s North Sea coast, trucks from the KION subsidiary brand Linde Material Handling are a fixed part of daily life and play a vital role in cruise ship building.

Safe and Reliable Intralogistics for the Cruise Industry

Work at the Meyer shipyard in Papenburg must not grind to a halt. Trucks ensure a smooth flow of materials around the clock so that cruise ships like the “Celebrity Reflections” are completed on time. There is intensive and efficient use of transport routes during this process. A sophisticated assistance system gives drivers a helping hand by ensuring that they do not lose sight of their own speed: Linde SpeedAssist automatically reduces the speed from the time they enter the production halls, therefore ensuring work safety. In addition, headlights and LED stripes provide clear lighting conditions in any situation, day or night. These are machines that the people there would no longer want to be without.

A long way from tranquil Emsland on the rugged coast of southern England, trucks are no less important when it comes to loading the cruise ships. With 2.7 million items of luggage and 100,000 metric tons of ship supplies, which need to be loaded so that they fit precisely, electric forklift trucks from the KION subsidiary STILL do remarkable work for the service provider Solent Stevedores at the Port of Southampton. The logistics provider relies on smooth operating processes. After all, anything that is not on board when the ship sets sail will not be able to be picked up until the next port, whether that is spreadable butter and ham for the buffet, the ingredients for evening cocktails, or the first aid bags for the rooms. While the cruise ships are being loaded, the sleeping passengers know almost nothing about the busy goings-on because the STILL trucks work almost noiselessly.

E-forklifts of STILL at Solent Stevedores at the Port of Southampton.

Reliable Luggage Transport for the Ferry

When it comes to loading luggage, the Dutch ferry operator Reederei Doeksen relies on STILL. The family company, which is celebrating 100 years of passenger service this year, carries 785,000 passengers and tourists across the Wadden Sea from Harlingen to the Frisian islands of Terschelling and Vlieland every year. With these kind of numbers it is clear that they depend on reliable processing. Passengers need to be given their luggage quickly on arrival. The fact that the STILL R07-25 tugger train provides smooth transport is partly due to the low downtimes, as Doeksen can trust service technicians from STILL implicitly. As a result, switching over the entire fleet to STILL was “a decision that we absolutely do not regret,” says Yntze Wiebenga, Head of Shore at Doeksen. It has resulted in fewer contact partners, better processes, and improved service – as well as electric tugger trains that are cleaner and quieter than their predecessors.

Tugger trains of STILL at Dutch ferry operator Doeksen.

Important Support in Fishing Operations

A few hundred kilometers further north of Southampton in Norwegian waters, instead of thousands of people, countless nets of fresh fish are processed day in and day out. STILL trucks also have an important role to play in one of the most important fishing areas for cod. As the Aurora Borealis dances overhead, the temperature and conditions are not easy for operator or machine. Ice-cold salt water floods the deck while the fishing boats catch cod and shellfish from the North Sea as they have for centuries. They are used to the sight of the STILL trucks here. They are a fixed part of the Norwegian fishing landscape and known for easily withstanding the toughest work right into the dead of night and with varying temperature and weather conditions. A special design for the fishing industry, with particularly rust-resistant paint, Vaseline-protected electrical connections, stainless steel base plates, and a protective shell made of special wax, ensures that on a long-term basis the trucks look just as fresh as the fish that they are used to load.

A special design for the fishing industry: STILL forklifts in Norway.

The situation is slightly less extreme, but no less challenging at the Parlevliet & Van der Plas Group . The major fishing company in the Netherlands relies on trucks from Linde Material Handling to manage the intralogistics requirements resulting from the storage and handling of 60,000 metric tons of fish at the site in IJmuiden. Eighty-five per cent of the storage capacity is continuously in use. The electric forklift trucks operate constantly, but this does no harm to their economic service life.

Forklifts from Linde MH are in continuous use at Parlevliet & Van der Plas.

Perfect Material Handling for Tons of Freight

It is not only in the world’s fishing ports that short downtimes can have lasting effects on trade. Material handling also takes place round the clock in freight ports with thousands of containers. For example in Sundsvall, one of the biggest ports in Sweden, where rolls of cellulose and paper are loaded by the ton. The containers never stand still here. The heavy trucks from Linde Material Handling form the backbone of material flow during this process—a fleet that runs like clockwork, which can carry out numerous loading processes without delays and react flexibly to the new challenges that occur every day.

Heavy trucks from Linde MH form the backbone of material flow at Sundsvall.

Almost 10,000 kilometers separate the cold of Scandinavia and the tropical heat of Malaysia. To the south-west of Kuala Lumpur in Port Klang, the heat is sometimes so intense that additional fans and more resistant rubber have been installed in the trucks from the KION brand Baoli. This makes them indispensable for the freight company Tarching Nippon. Containers weighing several tons from more than twenty customers need to be moved. One of the biggest challenges here is the ground, which is uneven and covered in puddles and cracks. Baoli has reinforced the ball bearings on both sides and made the mast higher. The Baoli trucks have a load-bearing capacity of between one and ten metric tons, and they are used continuously to ensure that, for example, furniture containers are in the right place at the right time. Everything keeps moving all the time.

Containers weighing tons are moved by Baoli forklifts in Kuala Lumpur.

Conquering New Frontiers with Hydrogen Power

A multifaceted picture: in order to handle the world’s intralogistics, KION Group brand trucks need to cope with numerous, sometimes completely different requirements. As a result, use in ports is perfect for testing out new technologies. This is just what the KION subsidiary STILL started to do at the port in Hamburg as early as 2010 with a hydrogen fuel station and an appropriately retrofitted fleet of trucks with fuel cell drive technology, which would be tested under the hard conditions of freight transport in one of the biggest ports in the world. This has allowed STILL to report the evidence that fuel cell drive technology makes intralogistics cleaner, more energy-efficient, and, above all, quicker. Refueling the trucks with hydrogen takes two to three minutes. There is also no need to constantly change the battery—which makes port work, which typically operates in multiple shifts, easy. The pilot project was a triumph and provided the foundation for a success story that continues to this day. Projects such as the STILL cooperation with the French food wholesaler Carrefour, where over 100 hydrogen-powered trucks are in use, have proven that this technology is now an established part of intralogistics.

From Hamburg, via the Arctic Circle, and right through to tropical Malaysia it is clear to see that while it is ships that actually cross oceans, it is the fleets of KION Group brand trucks that keep the world moving—and will continue to do so in future.