On Thursday, June 23, Stefan Prokosch, Senior Vice President Brand Management, and Aron Literski, Vice President Sales and Service Steering, from Linde Material Handling Ltd, presented the latest forklift automation solutions and other products at a press conference. From June 22 to 23, Linde invited the World of Material Handling to the Maimarkt grounds in Mannheim.
Stefan Prokosch and Aron Literski.
100 industrial trucks on 17,000 square meters
On 17,000 square meters, the company presented its entire product and solution portfolio with more than 100 forklifts and other material handling equipment. "We want to help our customers find the best, most holistic solutions and suitable processes in each case," Prokosch said. "That's why we want to be a solution provider for our customers rather than a pure product supplier." In the counterbalance area, in particular, Linde stands out with its new products, he said. Thus, on the one hand, industrial trucks with combustion engines as well as new types with sustainable energy are increasingly being produced.
"We have talked to hundreds of our customers and asked them about their experiences and wishes. The feedback from customers on our products has been and continues to be very positive, which is also reflected in the sales figures," Literski said. "At the end of 2019, we launched the new generation of forklifts with combustion engines, which have already been sold more than 25,000 times. Since the summer of 2021, standard electric forklifts and the X series of this equipment have been on the market, and here too, the trend is positive with 10,000 units sold."
The evening event, including a hosted dinner show, met with a lot of positive responses from the audience.
Fully automated industrial trucks, digitized platforms
The development has exceeded expectations because demand in the market is generally very high, he said. "At Linde, we have set the bar very high in terms of ergonomics, safety, efficiency, and productivity." The company is confident that internal combustion engines will be more of a niche market over the next decade. The equipment is run and tested in a trial under relatively real working conditions before being marketed. "Our forklifts are tested in comparison to the forklifts from our competitors. Both our IC trucks and our e-trucks show higher performance in terms of turnover rate and their operating time."
Again, he says, another important (cost) factor is the driving force. "We can make sure drivers are safer and feel more comfortable, which at the same time makes them more efficient, so our customers can actually save more money in the end." To this end, Linde offers an ergonomic solution by means of a new control as well as a safety system, which significantly reduces both the accident rate and the danger level, he said.
Linde showcased semi- to fully-automated lift trucks and other material handling equipment at World of Material Handling.
"In addition, we have a fully digitized platform. We don't know what our customers will need in the future, but our fully digitized system makes us very adaptable." Thanks to the electrical-electronic architecture built for the equipment, Linde can access software that ensures a higher level of parameterization in each product.
To this end, a "digital twin" is created for each piece of equipment: "The data for this virtual twin is stored in a completely secure cloud. Among other things, the industrial trucks consist of 200 data sensors that also enable remote diagnosis of the equipment, which means everything can be viewed as if you were on site yourself." In addition, he said, the "software over-the-air" function offers the potential to integrate new features and functionalities into the truck in the future. The "health management" of the forklift, i.e., maintenance, etc., can also be controlled and carried out via this.
Trucks powered by vegetable fuel or Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils (HVO Diesel).
Around 250,000 industrial trucks are already connected via the company's own Linde Connect system, which also serves to optimize processes. Linde expects higher sales, especially for lithium-ion batteries, which are also used a lot in wholesale. Linde is also already actively working on hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen and can already market a conveying device powered by vegetable oil, which was also demonstrated at WoMH.
Climate protection and sustainability are important issues for Linde's customers, he said, which is achieved through the high quality and durability of the equipment. But safety is also an integral part of this concept, he said, which is why the company is developing safety assistance systems that have already been sold more than 500 times. "The equipment and the infrastructure communicate with each other, so to speak, which can reduce collision damage and repair costs, for example."
Stefan Prokosch on Linde's products:
In a one-on-one interview, Prokosch told us that Linde's strength in the fruit and vegetable sector, or in wholesale, lies primarily in the loading zones. "Here, we are also superior to our competitors, especially with our counterbalance industrial trucks in terms of ergonomics, performance, and handling capacity. Competition, on the other hand, is much stronger in the retail sector."
Linde has a particularly strong presence in the loading and unloading sector, he said. "In Germany, you haven't exactly solved your tasks perfectly when it comes to digitalization in recent years. But there are real beacons, as can be seen in the automotive industry. Autonomous driving, for example, has improved noticeably, precisely because the software is constantly being improved. That's exactly what we want to offer because the digitization of products must be designed in such a way that we can respond to customers' needs at any time in the future and upgrade the devices accordingly," says Prokosch.
Stefan Prokosch in one of the new X-series forklifts.
Motrac: "Customers are satisfied and positively surprised"
Representatives from Motrac, which distributes Linde products in the Netherlands, were also on hand and were enthusiastic about the latest developments from Linde and about WoMH: "It's a very dynamic exhibition. The most interesting thing for the fruit and vegetable sector in the Netherlands is likely to be the X series in particular. Especially in agriculture, the e-stackers should find a lot of appeal. But also the new pallet trucks, which are significantly more robust than the standard ones due to the use of steel instead of plastic, have already generated a lot of positive feedback." In addition to agriculture, however, there is also a high level of interest in the Dutch recycling industry, he said. "Our customers are very satisfied and also positively surprised by the trucks."
Tino van Essen, Anno Jochemsen, Sjef Kerkvliet, Guido Keuning and Clark Kloos of Motrac.