All Stories
4 min

The Linde MH and Dematic brands work closely together in China

KION serves customers around the world, including some century-old companies, such as the American company Kohler. 2023 marks the 150th anniversary of the privately-owned Kohler family business. Since Kohler entered the Chinese market in 1995, the KION brand Linde Material Handling (China) has been empowering Kohler's twelve facilities across China with its efficient intralogistics services. This year, KION's warehouse technology specialist Dematic also joined Linde to help Kohler's facility in Nanchang (Jiangxi province) automate their warehousing processes.


When we travel and stay in hotels, it's the little things that make or break our experience. In China, if you see Kohler products in your hotel bathroom, you can be assured that the hotel values attention to detail and quality. That's because in China, the Kohler brand is synonymous with a luxurious, high-quality, and elegant lifestyle. Kohler products can be found in various settings, ranging from star-rated hotels to large office complexes and upscale residential buildings.

Founded in 1873 and headquartered in Wisconsin, USA, the company has been expanding its business footprint in China at an impressive rate since its debut in 1995. As of 2021, Kohler has twelve facilities in China, producing a range of high-end products including plumbing fixtures, faucets, bathtubs, shower rooms, sinks, water purifiers, kitchen cabinets, and wardrobes. With over 900 stores in more than 160 cities nationwide, Kohler has established a strong presence throughout China.

Exclusive forklift partnership leads to efficient intralogistics

The KION brand Linde Material Handling which entered the Chinese market in 1993 has witnessed Kohler's success in China since Kohler built its facilities there. As the sole intralogistics partner in China, Linde has established a strategic relationship with the family-owned company for all its sites. With these collaborations Linde provides Kohler with superior logistics services.

At its facility in Nanchang in Jiangxi province, a wide range of Linde products, including diesel and electric forklifts trucks, high-level order pickers, and pallet trucks play a vital role in material handling operations, such as material feeding and inbound and outbound shipments, within the parts and finished goods warehouse.

A wide range of Linde products play a vital role in material handling operations at Kohler´s facility in Nanchang, Jiangxi province.

Kohler's Nanchang facility has seen rapid growth in recent years, resulting in a substantial increase in production tasks and workshop workload. This underscores the critical importance of efficient intralogistics to the facility's operations. Kohler's Nanchang facility has a Linde fleet that is not large but is in heavy use, with many forklifts having been in service for a long time. To address this issue, Linde has entered a long-term inspection and maintenance contract with Kohler to provide preventive checks and maintenance to extend the life of the forklifts. This ensures the efficient operation of the entire fleet while saving the cost of purchasing new equipment.

"The average age of the forklifts in use at Kohler's Nanchang facility is over ten years, with some having been in service for 18 years since the facility's inception. But our professional maintenance keeps these forklifts running without a hitch. " Said Cao Liangning, the service engineer responsible for Kohler's Nanchang facility. Since 2017, he has been working on the maintenance of the Linde fleet at Nanchang facility. Every one to two weeks, he visits the customer to conduct an on-site inspection of the fleet operation and to collect feedback from the customer on their experience of using the forklifts. "Kohler is highly satisfied with Linde's high-performance products and professional services and regards Linde as a trusted partner that is integral to their success. This enduring collaboration has built a strong trust between Kohler and Linde, setting the stage for both companies to grow and prosper together," noted Cao.

The long-term service contract ensures the efficient operation of the entire fleet.

Dematic and Kohler's first collaboration paves the way for future partnership

As Kohler's Nanchang facility continues to thrive and expand, it is challenging for it to keep up with the escalating demand for increased capacity. Therefore, a thorough transformation of the existing warehouses is imperative to accommodate additional production lines. To tackle this, Kohler planned to revamp and modernize its existing warehousing system by constructing a fully automated vertical warehouse for storing both raw materials and finished products. This is precisely where the expertise of Dematic, another KION brand company, comes into play.

Following a series of assessments, Kohler chose Dematic's pallet cranes as the key equipment for their vertical warehouse. Given the limited building space, Dematic outfitted Kohler's facility with eight pallet cranes, all 20.73 meters high, to meet the customer's growing storage and handling needs. The project aimed to increase the inbound and outbound capacity to 400 pallets per hour. Moreover, the long-distance conveyor lines connect different operational areas within the facility, minimizing ground traffic congestion and maximizing space utilization. In response to the 2022 chip shortage, the Dematic team adapted the advanced industrial PC used for the pallet cranes to local conditions, shortening the delivery time and making maintenance easier.

Dematic's pallet cranes allow Kohler to achieve higher turnover rates in its inbound and outbound operations.

"Dematic's advanced pallet cranes allow the customer to handle a greater number of orders and achieve higher turnover rates in its inbound and outbound operations," concluded Dong Ning, the director of the Durable Goods Industry in Sales Department at Dematic China. He said that in China's durable goods industry, including automotive, electronics, furniture, and plumbing fixtures, there is a growing demand for automated warehousing equipment. More and more customers are investing in the development of fully automated vertical warehouses to boost their intralogistics efficiency.

At the end of August this year, after the commissioning of all Dematic equipment, the vertical warehouse at Kohler's Nanchang facility was put into operation. This is Kohler's first fully automated vertical warehouse in the Asia-Pacific region and the first joint project between Dematic and Kohler worldwide. Kohler is embracing the automation trend in China, opening a new chapter in the company's evolution journey.

"The stability of the Dematic equipment and the expertise of the Dematic project team are recognized and highly appreciated by Kohler. In view of the successful first collaboration between the two sides, we are very optimistic that other Kohler facilities in China will also enter cooperation with Dematic in the future," Dong Ning is convinced.