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Loading at heights – safely and soundly

Operating industrial trucks in a warehouse can be a hazardous task, especially when working at heights. Besides the common risks, there's also the potential danger of harmful vibrations or shaking – which can cause serious health problems. But thanks to advancements in technology, Linde Material Handling (MH), a brand of the KION Group, has reached and secured an exemplary level of safety over the years.


Picture someone painting the walls of a four-meter-high room using a wobbly ladder. Obviously, any touch of the ladder, no matter how small, could cause dangerous oscillations – and potentially serious accidents. Simultaneously, not having clear view of the spot to be painted, could also make for a pretty uneasy time up there. In intralogistics, where storage and retrieval often take place in high-bay warehouses far above the ground, there are similar challenges. Fortunately, however, technologies have been developed that avoid vibrations and obscurities – for example, by triggering precise counter movements or providing lights and camera systems that brighten up the environment. Let's explore three different scenarios in greater detail.

Striking balance with Active Stability Control

You walk on a shaky bridge while carrying a load of groceries. A sense of unease washes over you, raising the risk of an accidental slip. Now imagine driving a turret truck in a warehouse with an unbalanced floor – especially at heights. The risks are even greater, as even a tiny bump in the ground can cause the forklift to vibrate and make the goods handling at heights much less productive or comfortable. This was the problem that the Wagner eCommerce Group – one of Germany’s leading mid-sized on-line retailers – faced when they were looking for a solution to optimize their operations in their 30,000-square metre warehouse.

Linde MH's narrow aisle forklifts with the Active Stability Control (ASC) system provided Wagner eCommerce Group with an innovative solution to take on-site safety and efficiency to a new level. The ASC system compensates for irregularities of the floor, making it safer and faster to operate forklifts. It does this by employing sensor-controlled rollers to swiftly offset any floor unevenness detected between the left and right sides of the aisle, enhancing load wheel adjustment.

Employees can concentrate more on what's happening in front of them. “We store and retrieve pallets at heights of up to eleven meters. Even right at the top, there’s pretty much no rocking with the Linde trucks,” says Thomas Niemann, Logistics Team Leader at Wagner. With speeds of up to 8 km/h through their 1.60-meter-wide rack aisles, the trucks can move safely and quickly. To further improve their on-site performance, the company ordered an additional 14 vehicles with ASC technology. And that’s not all. “We are already planning a new warehouse to extend our storage capacities further. This will also have a passage to our current narrow aisle warehouse,” explained Wagner eCommerce Group’s Head of Logistics, Michael Kertels.

Squeezing through with Narrow Aisle Trucks

Envision a place where bookshelves soar to heights equivalent to three giraffes stacked atop one another. This is Hachette – one of the world's largest warehouses for books and other publications, housing over 80 million books in 36 aisles and 40,000 pallet locations. But with such towering shelves, the challenge lies in safely handling and transporting these books. Here, a solution beyond the classic Linde K truck is needed. “When we were planning the warehouse at the time, the first question was just how high can we go?” stated Marc Travers, Director of Operations, Hachette UK Distribution. Fortunately, Linde MH had the answer.

Hachette collaborated closely with Linde MH with the goal to engineer a specialized solution tailored to their racking system’s exceptional heights. In this endeavour, Linde MH supplied Hachette with uniquely crafted narrow aisle trucks, enhanced by innovative Dynamic Reach Control (DRC) technology – an incredibly responsive system that counteracts mast motions precisely.

Linde MH cleverly combined its Linde K truck and Linde V modular, resulting in a unique solution optimized for heightened lifting capacity and maximum picking performance. Through the integration of these two innovative technologies, coupled with the incorporation of the DRC system, the trucks demonstrate remarkable stability. Even when tasked with transporting fully loaded pallets to elevations reaching an impressive 18 meters, the trucks remain free from any tremors or swaying.

“Thanks to this assistance system, jolting and swaying when handling full pallets are a thing of the past – and our employees can set down loads quickly, safely, and comfortably,” comments Travers. Not to mention; Hachette is 15-20 percent more productive now than they were using their previous equipment – a significant improvement indeed.

Guiding the way with the VertiLight

Groping in the dark is obviously a disadvantage - this applies to both people and forklifts. Finding one's way in dark rooms requires support for orientation. Among these tools, the Linde VertiLight stands out. With a half-circular design and seven LEDs, it offers extensive workspace illumination. These LEDs evenly spread light from floor to shelf edge, greatly enhancing visibility for shelves, contents, and forks – especially valuable for high racks.

And for operators utilizing advanced Linde trucks they can harness the power of fork cameras and crossline lasers. This dynamic duo synergizes to streamline load handling: the crossline laser pinpoints precise pallet placement, while the fork camera enhances visibility, especially for tasks involving elevated rack levels.

The evolution of safety in operating forklifts and other industrial trucks showcases a remarkable shift towards heightened protection while not compromising on productivity and performance. The integration of advanced technologies, exemplified by the KION Group’s brand Linde MH, has ushered in a new era where operational risks are significantly reduced. Amazing as it sounds, with the right technology, people can work at a height of 18 meters between two high-level racks – and not even feel a sway.