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Working Together for Sustainable Development

There is no Planet B. That’s why we all need to think and act sustainably—and there’s no time to lose! This is not just true for individuals but also for companies like the KION Group. The KION Group is already making a contribution towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through numerous measures.


Eating less meat, traveling by bike more often, not using plastic straws just to name but a few. We all know the ways that we as individuals can help to protect the environment. But it is not just up to us individuals to act sustainably and there are a number of reasons for this: In order to create a world where everyone has the same education and development opportunities, where we use no more resources than it is possible to regenerate, companies are also being encouraged to make a contribution to greater sustainability. In 2016, the UN launched their “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs). In addition to the social dimension of sustainable development, these goals also take into account the economic and ecological dimension, and act as a guide for companies.

KION and the SDGs

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations set out guidelines for greater sustainability at economic, social, and ecological level. To achieve these ambitious goals, all parts of society need to act together. Companies can use the goals to guide them as they steer their activities in a more sustainable direction. As a company with operations all over the world, the KION Group wants to contribute to the achievement of these goals.

The sustainability coordinators of all KION Operating Units integrated and evaluated the SDGs when they selected and defined the relevant topics as part of their materiality assessment in 2018. They identified the relevant sub-goals for the Group and grouped these into subject areas. The outcome was that seven sustainability aspects were classified as particularly material for the intralogistics company. These material aspects were embedded in KION’s sustainability strategy and have guided the Group’s actions ever since, shaping its contribution to the achievement of the SDGs.

The KION Group is making a contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through the following numerous examples:

Good Health and Well-being

The KION Group is contributing to the achievement of “Good Health and Well-being” in two key areas: by implementing effective health and safety management measures in the workplace and by offering products and solutions that aim to set new standards of workplace safety and ergonomics.

Our comprehensive HSE (health, safety, environment) management ensures that our workplaces are safe and the health of our employees is safeguarded.

Active and passive safety systems built into KION Group industrial trucks ensure maximum safety and reduce the risk of accidents.

Dematic’s logistics solutions use intelligent control software that helps to increase efficiency while also reducing risks and avoiding dangerous situations.

Protection for Materials: The Linde Safety Pilot Assistance System

Egger Holzwerkstoffe in Wismar is just one of many companies that relies on forklift trucks from Linde Material Handling for its logistics needs. The wood products specialist uses Linde forklifts to supply items to production as well as to take them away, and to transport finished products. Great overview, superbly comfortable seat, and hardly any operating noise. They are very easy to work with. Another feature that impressed Egger’s logistics professionals was the Linde Safety Pilot assistance system: Even minor oversights when loading the wooden boards and laminate flooring can lead to critical situations. The weight of the Euro pallets also differs significantly. Until now Egger drivers have often had to decide on instinct what else the forklift truck can transport, and what height it can lift it to. The Linde Safety Pilot now provides drivers with all the information required to transport the load safely. It shows them the angle of inclination, the current weight on the fork, and the current and maximum lifting height. If the situation becomes critical, the system automatically limits the equipment. In this way the Linde solution not only increases the safety of employees, but also reliably protects the products from damage.

Protection for People:

The Secure Distance Vest from Linde is a further development of the Interactive Warning Vest for the Safety Guard from Linde Material Handling in response to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The most important measure to avoid infection with Covid-19 is to keep a safe distance between two people. This distance is not always easy to maintain when working together in production or in the warehouse. The subjective and objective assessment is often different. This task is now taken over by the Secure Distance Vest from Linde Material Handling. The vest measures the distance between employees using ultra-wideband radio waves and warns employees if the space is below the minimum distance in three ways: by flashing, beeping, and vibrating. The additional “Tracking & Tracing” option makes it possible, in the event of a positive coronavirus case, to trace which colleagues have spent time in close proximity to the infected person. This eliminates the need to impose quarantines for entire teams.

Protection for People: The STILL Safety Light

It is becoming ever more common for modern intralogistics processes to involve people and trucks working together. The STILL Safety Light is a helpful visual warning system that helps to ensure the safety of your work processes. The blue warning light significantly increases safety in your workplace, especially in poorly lit and winding areas. The bright blue spot on the ground approx. 5 m behind the equipment alerts others that the truck is approaching and can prevent a collision.

Affordable and Clean Energy

Climate protection is a core objective of the KION Group in the environmental sphere. 30 percent by 2027. This is the target we set to reduce our energy-related CO2 emissions over a period of ten years and utilizing renewable energy solutions plays a big role in the targets laid out back in 2018. KION has already achieved 10 percent, primarily due to executing the two important levers—energy efficiency and green electricity. We are therefore working hard to reduce the company’s energy consumption systematically and we endeavor to use climate-friendly energy sources where possible. In this respect, our primary focus is on electricity, the main form of energy consumed at our plants.

Photovoltaic Systems in the United States

At the site in the North American town of Summerville, South Carolina, KION relies on photovoltaic systems to generate electricity. The solar panels were installed at the production location back in 2018.

85 percent. This is what the management team at KION North America in Summerville, South Carolina, says it has been able to offset from its utility bills since over 3600 solar panels were installed in 2018. In the first seven months after the system was installed, they were already generating energy equal to an impressive 88.3 percent of their own consumption. To put this in perspective, the 1 MW photovoltaic system could power around 110 single-family homes annually.

Solar Energy in India

KION has also installed a photovoltaic system on the roof of the new plant in Pune, India.

1972 solar panels on the roof of the new production location in Pune are helping the management team to realize a 65-percent reduction in energy costs annually. Add in a significant drop in the number of power cuts, the low maintenance of the photovoltaic system and the built-in safety parameters and you have a management team that was convinced this was the way forward. “As a leader in our industry, we feel we have a responsibility to our customers, vendors, employees and the communities around us to build a plant that is not only cutting-edge in manufacturing standards, but also one that contributes to improving our environment,” beams Gupta, CEO of KION India.

Green Energy in Europe

In 2019, KION ensured that, going forward, electricity for our sites in Germany and the Czech Republic, which are responsible for the majority of our production, will come from renewable sources. Our Italian production location in Luzzara has also been purchasing green electricity from a local supplier. Ideally, we would like to extend the procurement of “green energy” throughout the Group.

Reduced Inequalities

The KION Group strives to ensure the personal dignity of every individual and promotes mutual respect, regardless of characteristics such as gender, skin color, ethnic or social background, age, or religion. These principles are firmly enshrined in the standards of the KION Group, which apply worldwide and across all Group sites. In addition to equality of opportunity and the fair treatment of all employees, the company’s understanding of diversity therefore also involves tolerance and respect for different ways of thinking. Standardized talent management processes support the elimination of diversity-related barriers to career progression.

Mentoring Program for Women & Female Executives

One part of the 2027 HR strategy initiative is the Female Mentoring Program, in which high-potential female employees are systematically coached by managers from the highest management level in the company.

KION GROUP AG is also an active member of the initiative “Chefsache. Drive the Change – For Men and Women”. This network of companies and leaders from industry and science, the public sector, and the media advocates equal opportunities for women and men. By participating in this initiative, KION GROUP AG’s ambition and objective is to promote the change of mindset that is required through society by exploring new concepts and approaches.

Responsible Consumption and Production

The KION Group is a trailblazer in the field of green intralogistics. We design our products and solutions to have minimum environmental impact and maximum energy efficiency, because we want to offer our customers solutions that are not only ideally suited to their relevant area of application, but also climate-friendly, resource-efficient, and therefore cost-effective. Especially when it comes to developing sustainable drive technologies—such as lithium-ion batteries or fuel cells—we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make a significant contribution to the protection of our climate and the natural environment.

Socially and environmentally responsible sourcing processes, including defined minimum standards for our suppliers, enhance the sustainability of our production.

Fuel cell technology from Linde Material Handling in use at Mercedes-Benz

With the motto “Daimler Goes Green”, Mercedes-Benz is testing the use of Linde forklifts with fuel cell drive in the world’s largest plant for Mercedes Sprinter vans in Düsseldorf. The popular transporters are produced here in three-shift operation. Hydrogen technology helps to save time and personnel costs for changing batteries. Within just three minutes, the fuel cell is refilled with hydrogen and the truck is ready for use. The technology therefore creates the ideal conditions for smooth shift changes.

Lithium-Ion Technology from STILL at H. & J. Brüggen KG

In April 2016, the food manufacturer Brüggen converted its fleet to STILL’s Li-Ion technology; a total of 66 new counterbalance trucks together with low- and high-lift pallet trucks from STILL are currently in use. The changeover from lead-acid to lithium-ion batteries offers Brüggen many advantages: Due to the higher performance capabilities of the Li-Ion accumulators, they are especially for multi-shift applications. The Li-Ion battery contains twice the amount of energy in the same physical volume, which enables a saving in the cost of battery changes and infrastructure; It’s also maintenance-free. For the employees, the changeover means above all a reduced workload and more comfort and convenience. Instead of swapping interchangeable batteries and connecting them to the charging stations, charging them for more than six hours and topping up with distilled water, all that needs doing now is to charge them conveniently via the externally accessible charging connection. These are factors that increase the availability of the trucks and have a noticeable effect on Brüggen’s operating costs. In contrast to lead-acid batteries, intermediate recharges are possible in any state of charge.

Climate Action

We support the agreements reached at the Paris Climate Change Conference, especially the objective of limiting global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. By 2027, we want to reduce our Group’s energy-related emissions by 30 percent (reference year: 2017). Reducing our energy consumption—for example across our forklift fleets—and using climate-friendly energy sources (see also SDG 7) are our key levers.

Certified life cycle assessments of our most important products have revealed that energy and fuel consumption are the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions during their use phase. Enhancing energy efficiency is therefore a priority in product development.

LEDs in Summerville

KION North America’s goal is to protect the environment and the health of its employees. “Project Sunshine” has been a success on many levels: it saves energy, conserves resources, and improves the lighting in the production halls.

KION has already implemented a number of eco-friendly ideas in the manufacturing halls at Summerville. Around 400 energy-saving LEDs have been installed in the production areas and offices. It has lowered power consumption and of course the electricity bill by around 25 percent. But the LEDs have a number of other benefits. They generate less heat, which helps keep the plant cool during the hot and very humid summer months meaning less energy is needed for air conditioning. And for employees, the better distribution of light in the plant is a definite improvement to their work environment. It is less strain on their eyes than with conventional fluorescent lighting and they make significantly fewer errors when working with small parts.

Waste Separation at Linde (China)

Linde (China) is raising awareness of recycling and avoiding waste in the workplace. The employees in Xiamen have been separating their waste since 2011— they are much better at doing it now. Not so long ago, things would have landed in the wrong container, but now everything is sorted correctly. The volunteer program for Linde employees also has an environmental group, which collects waste from the various halls and keeps the plant’s roads and paths clean and tidy.

This group regularly invites groups of children to attend environmental training and explains the principle behind sorting waste. They learn how to sort waste together in the recycling station. For Linde (China), it’s important that children learn the importance of protecting the environment from an early age. The Linde team in Xiamen is also happy to open its doors to other visitors, for example to share its experiences with other companies as protecting the environment is a matter that concerns everyone.

Partnerships for the Goals

In the KION Group, we know that it takes concerted action to effect lasting change. Close involvement of relevant stakeholders and targeted partnerships, aimed at achieving more by joining forces, therefore form a key element of our sustainability management.

Energy Efficiency: Quicktron

The KION Group entered a strategic partnership with Quicktron, a young Chinese manufacturer of autonomous mobile robots (AMR) in the summer of 2020. Automated warehouse solutions help to achieve greater energy efficiency and safety at work.

Safety & Energy Efficiency: QBIIK

How can we achieve even more when autonomous technology is combined with human capabilities? What can an adaptive autonomous picking system manage and what safety devices are necessary to operate trucks autonomously in public places? A research project, QBIIK, which was funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) as part of the PAiCE (Platforms/Additive Manufacturing/Imaging/Communication/Engineering) technology initiative provided answers to these questions. It used prototype digital solutions in specific industrial applications to highlight the opportunities that come from integrating and using innovative technologies.

The new QBIIK FTF robot system made value-added processes more efficient while using fewer resources, optimized the use of resources, and ensured that production was as environmentally friendly as possible. The development partners STILL GmbH, BÄR Automation, Audi Sport GmbH, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) were involved in the project for 3.5 years until its completion in June 2020.

Our “KION 2027” Strategy

Any company that wants to take the lead in the intralogistics industry needs to have a clear focus—today, tomorrow and beyond. In “KION 2027”, we are setting the direction for the strategic development of our company. The five fields of action of our strategy indicate the shape this development will take: digitalization, automation, innovation, performance, and energy.

Sustainability trend: The KION Group is one of the material handling industry’s leading companies in the development of energy and resource-efficient systems. Electric trucks (electric forklift trucks and warehouse trucks) recently made up around 85 per cent of the KION Group’s order intake for industrial trucks in terms of units. With lithium-ion batteries and modern fuel cells, the Group offers its customers drive technologies for industrial trucks that are completely innovative, as well as the associated services. In this way, the KION Group helps its customers to implement their own sustainability programs and helps them to achieve additional cost savings. The KION Group is also relying on renewable energies in its own plants, primarily through the use of solar panels on plant roofs and green electricity from hydro-electro power. The Group intends to reduce its energy-related CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2027, compared with 2017. The use of renewable energies is a key element of this.

Our guiding motto: We are moved by sustainability.

Every year, we publish information about our sustainability strategy and organization, focusing on the progress that we have made over the reporting period.

you can find our latest sustainability report.