2021-10-01

Powerful Intralogistics Solutions for the Agriculture Sector

Agriculture has been at the very heart of human life since ancient times. By farming the land, our ancestors were able to leave behind their nomadic hunter-gatherer existence and settle down in one place – the precursor to the communities we know today. Even now in the 21st century, agriculture accounts for more than a third of global land usage. Everything we eat begins its life in our farmers’ fields— and getting it fresh from the farm to our plates requires the processes that run as smoothly as possible. Enter the KION brands—Linde Material Handling, STILL and Dematic—all of which have a major role to play in these vital global supply chains.

It sounds simple, right? You cultivate the land, sow the right crops, and come the fall you enjoy a bumper harvest. But dig a little deeper and you soon realize that the agricultural industry is highly complex—a sophisticated global network of perfectly-timed process chains constantly adapting to changing patterns of weather and climate. And the challenges don’t stop there: Increased demand driven by global population growth, seasonal variations, and the delicate nature of the produce itself all make agricultural logistics a highly demanding sector. The KION Group brands help farmers across the world to meet these challenges at all stages in the agricultural production and distribution chain. And if that wasn't enough, they also support many associated industries such as manufacturers of high-performance agricultural machinery.

“Exceptional” STILL Tugger Trains: Optimized Tractor Production

Heavy machinery is vital for the agricultural sector, be it tractors, combine harvesters, or hay balers. Agricultural machinery specialists Fendt are one of the big industry players and KION subsidiary brand STILL is proud to support their operations at their headquarters in Allgäu Marktoberdorf in Bavaria. To enable Fendt to meet the enormous demand for its wide range of machinery, STILL supplies tugger trains for use on the company’s production lines, primarily in its assembly hall. These operate using the aptly named “milkrun” system, in which the different assembly stations are all integrated into the same supply cycle. Every hour, the tugger trains deliver up to 445 parts (for the different Fendt VarioDrives) to the 19 live storage racks in the assembly hall according to a fixed route and schedule. In the future, Fendt also plans to introduce STILL tugger trains in a number of other production areas, so that it is ready to meet the growing demand from the farming industry.

In addition, STILL has been John Deere’s main supplier of tugger trains and warehouse trucks for a number of years, helping support the company’s logistics processes at its manufacturing sites and spare parts warehouses across Europe. In 2018, this world leader in agricultural machinery even awarded STILL its “John Deere Partner Award” in recognition of STILL’s exceptional performance in the areas of quality, delivery reliability, technical support, and cost management.

Dematic Automated Systems: Greater Efficiency in Spare Parts Logistics

KION subsidiary Dematic helps overcome similarly complex challenges in its collaboration with Bavarian company Röthlein Logistik GmbH. Röthlein is a specialist in spare parts logistics for the agricultural sector— a vital role in such a seasonal industry where any delay caused by broken down machinery can mean a farmer loses their entire harvest. To give farmers the reassurance they need, Röthlein is committed to delivering urgently-needed spare parts in the shortest possible timeframes. And to make that possible, they have kitted out their logistics center with Dematic automation technology. Dematic’s customized package comprises a three-aisle Mini-Load AS/RS with three Dematic RapidStore AS/RS for simple storage and retrieval of containers. There is also a Dematic Multishuttle system with 20 high-speed shuttles, which provides buffer storage. These shuttles work so quickly that they can store and retrieve up to 1200 items every hour. All in all, it’s a comprehensive solution that ensures parts are perfectly organized and readily available when customers need them.

Linde MH supports Ratto Bros. in California

Anthony Ratto, owner and Operations Manager of Ratto Bros. explains why their company has chosen Linde MH products to help run daily operations in their cooling facility for over 25 years.

Linde Forklifts: Environmentally-Friendly Transport for Fresh Vegetables

It’s not just in Germany that the KION brands are making a difference. Take KION subsidiary Linde Material Handling, for example: Their forklifts provide an efficient and sustainable handling solution for vegetable producer Ratto Bros. in the USA. Ratto Bros. is based in Modesto, California, which is situated around 90 minutes east of San Francisco in the San Joaquin Valley. The company produces 40 varieties of leafy and root vegetables at its 1000 ha site, harvesting a wide-ranging crop of savoy cabbage, kale, leek, celeriac, beetroot, kohlrabi and more. This delicate produce is carefully transported from the chillers to the trucks using Linde electric forklifts. Speed and flexibility are key here because the searing heat on the farm is devastating for the fresh vegetables. Every day, up to 12,000 packs of veg are dispatched from the farm en route to customers which include major US supermarkets such as Safeway and Kroger. It’s a major logistical exercise, which relies heavily on the Ratto Bros. fleet of 15 Linde forklifts and 20 hand pallet trucks. Sustainability sits front and center at Ratto Bros. and according to company boss Anthony Ratto their choice of forklift is a key element of this strategy.

On the other side of the world, in Queensland, Australia, you’ll also find forklifts from Linde Material Handling hard at work for another vegetable producer. Family firm Vanstone produces broccoli and shallots for big-name chains such as Costco. Its battery-operated forklifts are a vital component in the seamless processes that ensure its vegetables are delivered fresh to its customers. Tractors bring the produce from the fields in enormous plastic containers, and the fleet of Linde electric forklifts then transport the vegetables to the chillers, packing halls and finally the trucks ready for distribution. The whole journey from field to supermarket shelf takes less than 48 hours!

Finally, Linde Material Handling is also part of an exciting pioneering project in Germany. The eHoftrac is an efficient and environmentally-friendly electric tractor from agricultural machinery producer Weidemann, which uses Linde eMotion drive technology. It might be the “little brother” of your conventional tractor, but it’s still a powerful piece of kit, suitable for transport tasks in agriculture and forestry, earthmoving work in construction and street and sidewalk cleaning.

Looking to the Future

One of the biggest—if not the biggest—question around the future of the agriculture sector is how we look after the world's resources. There are already many innovative and sometimes surprising ideas out there, including the prospect of farming crickets as an alternative source of protein. It might sound far-fetched, but farming crickets produces significantly fewer greenhouse gases and uses a lot less water than rearing pigs or cows. The Aspire Food Group based in Ontario, Canada, is exploring this idea and aims to produce as much food as possible using as few resources as possible. When building its indoor cricket farm, it commissioned KION subsidiary Dematic to supply the all-important automated storage and retrieval system at the heart of its design – just another example of how the KION Group is helping shape the future of agriculture.

Around the world, the KION brands are helping keep the agricultural industry running smoothly, with smart solutions to overcome all kinds of challenges. Theirs is a vital contribution—after all, if our farmers are going to take care of us, we need to take care of them.

"We don't sell products, we sell solutions"

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