Intralogistics solutions - a perfect fit for every customer need

The KION Group’s business model is designed so that customers of all sizes and from all sectors can obtain the full spectrum of material handling products and services from a single source. Customer centricity and a firm focus on customer requirements is an integral part of the KION Group’s approach. Its vision: to understand its customers’ needs like no other company in the world and to provide them the custom-fit solution in each case.

In today's world of respecting individuality, consumers enjoy a wide range of products customized to their needs: unique shirts with embroidered initials, a vehicle with a personal configuration or an already preset list of favorite TV programs. The same applies to the world of intralogistics where customers can customize products and solutions to meet their specific requirements — not to show individuality, but to improve the efficiency of material flow and the safety of operations.

In more than 100 countries, with their knowledge and experience as well as the portfolio of world class products and solutions, the KION Group brand companies Linde Material Handling, STILL and Dematic work closely with customers to thoroughly understand their business needs in order to create the ideal product and solution for special requirements in individual customer segments.

KION ITS EMEA has fulfilled more than 470,000 individual customer wishes to date

Powerful industrial trucks are the backbone of modern in-house material flow. Whether forklift, high or low lift truck, order picker, tow tractor or narrow aisle truck, with KION brand companies Linde Material Handling and STILL, customers will find the industrial trucks with customized equipment variants that optimally fit their individual challenges. Truck attachments like paper roll clamp, rotator, side-shifter, special truck features such as automatic engine shutdown or trucks specially built for the driver with handicaps – they are the strengths of Linde MH and STILL. “Only few top suppliers in the industry are able to offer a wide range of customized options (CO). We are one of the best,” says Jan Bergemann, Senior Director Central Order Desk KION ITS EMEA.

Always in focus: the customer with his respective requirements. "Every case is different," says Klaus Müller, Head of the Customized Options KION ITS EMEA, "We aim to cater to all specifics and offer each customer the best possible custom-fit solution." To achieve this goal, understanding the business and the process of the customer is the key. As part of the Central Order Desk, Müller and his 28 CO-experts work closely with the on-site sales teams – when necessary also visit the customer directly – to collect the information about the application of the truck as detailed as possible. When creating a CO, they need to meet the criterion set by the customer: an individually optimized equipment with acceptable delivery time and a good price-performance ratio. “Different requirements aside, all customers want the same: more profitable business and safer operation. We are the one to make that happen.” Müller points out.

Customers appreciate that. "Every day we receive around 700 new orders from customers in the EMEA region. More than 50 percent of counterbalance and reach truck orders and around 20 percent of warehouse truck orders are customized options," Bergemann shares. His Central Order Desk takes care of new truck orders for all truck types from Linde MH and STILL – from receiving a customer order until shipping the trucks to the customer. “We do everything we can to make every customer wish come true. Only in EMEA region, Linde MH and STILL together have fulfilled more than 470,000 individual customer wishes.” Bergemann sums up.

Innovative and reliable partners with one-stop solution

Optimized industrial trucks are not all that Linde MH and STILL can offer. The KION brand companies can do more to support customers as innovative and reliable partners in the age of digitalization and automation. From innovative software, connected vehicles, automated guided vehicles, new energy systems to rental and used vehicle offers, as well as consulting on all aspects of material flow planning, fleet optimization and safety – customers have access to everything from one single source and benefit from the strong intralogistics competence of the KION brands.

When Yanmar Compact Equipment Europe, a construction equipment specialist and subsidiary of the Japanese engineering group Yanmar, planned to convert a former production hall into a high-performance logistics center for spare parts in its location Rothenburg ob der Tauber, it chose Linde MH as partner. And that´s because Linde MH was able to offer a holistic logistics concept and one-stop solution. The project was ambitious and posed several fundamental challenges: the new logistics center should offer as much storage space as possible. The structural conditions of the hall were not ideal due to the limited height, vertical pillars and horizontal cross beams under the roof which could be a safety hazard for truck drivers.

After intensive exchanges with customers and precise planning, the Linde MH project team came out with a thought-out and effective solution: the shelve compartments were designed in different heights to reflect the great variety of spare parts accordingly. The vertical support pillars were optimally integrated into the shelving arrangement by means of intelligent architecture. An aisle safety system was installed to avoid any collision under the roof, ensuring safety for drivers. "We were positively surprised that our requirements for the capacity of the warehouse were even exceeded thanks to good planning," says Markus Köhler, Director Aftermarket CE Europe at Yanmar Compact Equipment Europe, looking back on the project with satisfaction, “This clearly shows the advantages of having a trustworthy partner who can flexibly respond to our wishes.”

More than 600 kilometers away in Velsen-Noord, Netherlands, Linde MH´s sister company STILL has also optimized processes of the distribution centers for Detailresult Logistiek, a service provider to the supermarket chains Dirk van den Broek and DekaMarkt. The company regularly reviews its needs for optimization, in this case by using autonomous trucks to further reduce picking errors and walking distance for employees.

The 34 autonomous iGo neo trucks from STILL meet this need. They follow every step of operators when at work, always keeping a safe distance to the racks and possible obstacles so that the operators can fully concentrate on their work. This substantially increases pick performance and reduces picking errors. These trucks allow increases of productivity by as much as 47% compared to conventional order picking. Another benefit is that it reduces the strain on employees.

With the introduction of the iGo neo, Detailresult Logistiek switched to so-called multi-client picking where three rolling containers are picked at the same time. “The possibility for multi-client picking was one reason for us to concentrate more on the trucks in a certain sector area. We will surely check the potential in other areas to adjust the existing order picking processes and deploy the iGo neo in other departments as well,” explains Arjan Warmerdam, Warehouse Manager at Detailresult Logistiek. “The iGo neo is the first step to bring robotization into our distribution process. We are convinced that the cooperation with STILL may lead to expansion in the future,” adds Peter Yonderop, Logistic Manager at Detailresult Logistiek.

Future-proof supply chain solutions deliver best value to customers

Just like in the segment of Industrial Trucks and Services of the KION Group, customers in the segment of Supply Chain Solutions are also facing intralogistics challenges and are eager to optimize their processes. Especially in the high-pace industry E-Commerce, consumers today buy products across multiple channels and expect seamless shopping experience. This presents supply chain management with enormous tasks. Retailers, manufacturers and distributors need to adapt their processes to meet the increasing consumer expectations for ever-faster deliveries, to manage capacity and minimize complexity. The solution is to build a supply chain that is resilient and flexible enough to meet future day-to-day business requirements.

That´s where the KION subsidiary Dematic comes into play. The expert for supply chain solution has a robust selection of product, software and service options to deliver the ideal solution for customers to meet their business needs. Manual and automated solutions are provided for all functions along customers’ supply chains, from goods inward, space-saving storage efficient in-plant transportation to picking systems and goods-out preparation. “Every industry has its unique challenges. We have the solution for every specific market to deliver best value to our customers.” says Rainer Buchmann, SVP und Managing Director for Dematic Central Europe.

According to Buchmann, the Supply Chain Solutions segment is primarily involved in customer-specific, long-term project business. With global resources, production facilities worldwide and regional teams of experts, Dematic is able to plan and deliver logistics solutions with varying degrees of complexity anywhere in the world.

In the Middle East, for example, Dematic has delivered a fully integrated automation solution for the new distribution center of the Landmark Group, one of the largest importers of non-food products in the region. As its business kept expanding, the group would need more distribution capabilities and more staff to manage the overall fulfillment for all the customers. Meanwhile, with different product categories and customer needs growing differently as a result of online retailing, it was difficult for the group to make long-term forecast about the future demand. In order to respond actively to customer needs and to be well-prepared for the future, the group bundled the logistics operations of its five existing distribution centers into a new mega distribution center and decided to introduce fully automated systems in the new facility.

Processing more than 75,000 TEU*s annually, the group places a high value on intralogistics that can handle both a wide variety and a high volume. A reliable long-term partner who can offer a demand-driven integrated automation solution was what the group was looking for in the selection process. “Based on its deep knowledge and experience in warehouse automation, Dematic became the preferred and most suitable partner for us,” explains Mihin Shah, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Landmark Group.

Dematic provided the extensive automation technology tailored to the customer needs for the highly modern storage facility, including a pallet high-bay warehouse, two Dematic Multi-shuttle systems, and a garment-on-hanger sorting system. Dematic IQ software controls the systems efficiently and provides operation data in real time. The high degree of automation allows high throughput rates and handling of a very wide range of products. With this solution from a single source including software and service, the group now enjoys a faster and more accurate order fulfillment and more satisfied customers. “The beauty is that the solution is futuristic. I am expecting that we are able to cope with future challenges arising in the next five to ten years much better thanks to our investment in automation,” Mihin Shah is sure.

*TEU: Twenty-foot equivalent unit, an inexact unit of cargo capacity often used to describe the capacity of container ships and container terminals. One TEU is equal to 33m2.

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