The KION Group is aware of its responsibility towards society, the environment and the economy. That is why the KION Group goes above and beyond its legal duties to specifically promote sustainable development in matters of social and environmental importance. Prevention of climate change and conservation of resources therefore take top priority – and are an integral element of the Code of Compliance. Innovative products support the KION Group's role as one of the pioneers in the use of cutting-edge environmental technologies. The Linde and STILL brands have developed ground-breaking concepts for conserving resources.
Focus on the environment and efficiency
Linde attaches particular importance to ergonomics, the environment and efficiency. For example, ever since the first hydrostatic drive was developed in the 1950s, Linde has continually worked to improve the technology. Modern-day hydrostatic wheel motors operate at 170 revolutions per minute, instead of 3,500 as they used to do. Trucks need less fuel and produce fewer emissions, thereby enabling customers to operate more efficiently.
Linde also occupies a leading position when it comes to trucks powered by diesel engines. The particulate emissions of its diesel engines (H25D 392 model) are only approximately 35 per cent of those of competitors in the market. In addition, particulate filter systems are offered as optional extras. The H 40-50 series' energy consumption has been reduced by fitting a variable displacement pump for the lift hydraulics. The internal gear pump with a constant internal volume that was used previously has been replaced by an axial-piston pump developed by Linde Hydraulics. This new pump has a variable flow that can be controlled electronically depending on load and lift height and reduces fuel consumption by up to 18 per cent.
The electric forklift trucks developed by Linde also reflect its technology lead: energy recovery and three different eco modes enable the E 20-50 series to use up to 35 per cent less energy yet still score top marks as far as performance and efficiency are concerned. The Linde brand company has also succeeded in reducing the noise levels of these trucks by 30 per cent compared to the products of other manufacturers. The rate of wear is up to 20 per cent less for wearing parts. Moreover, the electric forklift trucks are low-maintenance, requiring a service every 1,000 hours and a hydraulic oil change only every 6,000 hours, while the encapsulated AC motors are entirely maintenance-free. In short, LMH generates benefits, not just for people but also for business and the environment.
STILL has also pursued a clear strategy of greater sustainability for many years. Three of the main elements of this strategy are the Blue-Q efficiency mode, which was launched in 2005, the drive technologies developed by STILL and process optimisation.
In 2011, STILL continued to press ahead with the introduction of the Blue-Q energy-saving feature, which is now available in electric and diesel trucks, the FM-X reach truck and the new MX-X order-picker truck. Blue-Q offers energy savings of up to 20 per cent through intelligent management of the drive and ancillary power consumption. Optimising the characteristics of the drive saves energy without impairing operation of the truck. STILL's RX 70 series, which already boasted the lowest energy consumption in its class, is now even more efficient thanks to the addition of the RX 70 Hybrid (rated capacity of 3.0 and 3.5 tonnes). The RX 70 Hybrid is the first series-production hybrid forklift truck. Electric energy is stored during braking and can then be used by the drive. The new RX 70 has two energy storage systems. This technology was first presented at CeMAT 2008 as ready for full production. Besides its environmental benefits, hybrid technology has also become attractive from a commercial perspective. The higher investment will pay off within two years assuming that the truck is operated for 1,500 hours per year. STILL continues to focus on refining hybrid technology. Considerable efficiency gains are possible when tugger trains are used to supply the production line. Although still new, this concept has proven in practice to cut energy consumption by up to 90 per cent. Trucks fitted with lithium-ion battery technology were showcased for the first time at CeMAT. The PalletShuttle is the first STILL product with a series-production lithium-ion battery and is designed to move pallets along a rack channel. It offers greater efficiency and saves energy.
Intelligent technology secures competitive edge
Pioneering technologies such as energy recovery in trucks, biodiesel, gas-powered trucks, the use of diesel particulate filters and adjustable pumps for lift drives, plus fuel-cell powered trucks, have a long tradition at the KION Group. Innovative drive concepts are the technology of the moment according to forecasts from industry experts at the 2010 Congress of the European Federation of Materials Handling (FEM) in Istanbul, where the future of industrial trucks was a major theme. The Industrial Truck Association, which represents forklift truck manufacturers and their suppliers in Canada, the United States and Mexico, expects that some 90 per cent of all trucks will be electric by 2025. A survey by the Engineering Committee of the Japanese Industrial Vehicles Association (JIVA) comes to similar conclusions and states that lithium-ion batteries and hybrid drives are the way forward.
LMH is taking a step in this direction by heading up the 'E-Log-Biofleet' research project in Austria. Working with prestigious partners, LMH is conducting an extensive field test in which a fleet of Linde industrial trucks with a fuel-cell hybrid solution and a range extender are being trialled in realistic operating conditions. The fuel cell replaces the conventional battery so that the trucks can be used for longer and efficiency is improved. A supply of hydrogen is integral to the system and is ensured by the installation of a new decentralised unit for producing hydrogen from biogas, a carbon-neutral energy source.
STILL is also responding to the trend for innovative drive concepts. Its new RX 70 Hybrid truck is pursuing the twin aims of low energy consumption and low CO2 emissions. The concept is based on the RX 70 model, which itself previously earned the FLTA environment award from the UK's Fork Lift Truck Association. In 2011, Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) and Fraport AG, which operates Frankfurt Airport, received the first series-production hybrid forklift trucks. STILL also handed over a new-generation forklift to ALBA Nord GmbH in late 2011. ALBA Nord GmbH is a subsidiary of the ALBA Group, a Berlin-based environmental services provider and trader in raw materials. For STILL, the key to pioneering, innovative operations is above all sustainable business practices. The new hybrid drive makes it possible to reduce energy consumption by up to 15 per cent and thereby lower CO2 emissions.
Responsible use of resources
The KION Group's innovative capabilities and the technological improvements it has made to its product portfolio enable it to constantly optimise the resource consumption of customers' truck fleets. Its responsible use of resources is also reflected in its use of recyclable materials, its energy-efficient products and manufacturing processes and its environmentally friendly workplaces.
One such example is the powder coating equipment used at STILL, which means that trucks only require one coat of paint. Solvents are not used in production. Any unused paint is collected and reused. Moreover, the STILL plant in Hamburg has been using just 32 per cent of its previous natural gas consumption since it switched to low-CO2 district heating. As a certified member of Hamburg's environmental partnership, the plant is trialling the voluntary monitoring of CO2. Electricity consumption has fallen considerably since 2004 due to intelligent energy management, in which electricity consumers are switched off at regular intervals. Hydraulic optimisation of the heating system has significantly cut the amount of water in circulation and reduced the return water temperature. The plant saves electricity and water by connecting the heating and ventilation systems to a control station.
A closed water circulation system, eco-friendly coating equipment, grease separators and efficient, powerful extraction systems in the production facilities and foundry are standard at Linde. Emissions checks, environmentally efficient production requirements and the need to comply with environmental and health & safety standards all result in continuous improvements to products and work processes. The recycling of a truck at the end of its lifetime is already taken into consideration when it is developed. As a result, 99 per cent of a Linde truck can be recycled. The cast iron, which accounts for 70 per cent, is used to make a new truck. Other materials, such as steel, copper, glass and service fluids, are almost 100 per cent recyclable.
Staff development programmes safeguard the Group's future
The KION Group's employees form the basis for its long-term success. That is why employee orientation lies at the heart of all processes. The corporate culture of the entire Group is characterised by mutual respect and appreciation. Managers and their staff live by these values. Their above-average loyalty to the Company shows that they appreciate this culture – and is a crucial competitive advantage for the KION Group. After all, the brands can only develop, manufacture and sell premium products if they have employees who see their work as more than just a job.
Professional training activities start with support for universities, work placements and apprenticeships, continue with professional development opportunities for the workforce and reach their apex with carefully structured personal development programmes to support managers and talented staff.
Linde Material Handling has cooperated with high schools in Aschaffenburg, the Aschaffenburg Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Aschaffenburg University of Applied Sciences and the Bavarian State Government for many years and has developed a pupil/engineer academy for high schools in which topics relevant to technological and scientific careers are incorporated into the curriculum for older pupils.
Work placements, discussions and school projects thereby forge links between business and schools. Support and development for the next generation of young professionals is provided by a wide range of work placement options for students at university and a close partnership with Aschaffenburg University of Applied Sciences.
Another example is Linde's alliance programme with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in which business, engineering and science students gain key qualifications, preparing them to tackle future challenges in the world of work.
When it comes to vocational training, Linde Material Handling sets standards as the largest training provider in the Lower Main region of Bavaria. Besides professional training, other essential elements of the personal development plan for all trainees and apprentices are mutual appreciation and respect. These values are specifically taught and developed during training sessions.
One advantage of KION's training and professional development models is their flexibility. This can be seen in the opportunities for working and learning in other countries. The Linde expat programme, for example, enables employees to move from headquarters in Germany to almost any partner country and vice versa.
Last year, 27 Linde employees took part in the 'managerial driving licence' scheme. About half of them have already completed the programme and the remainder will do so this spring. The 'managerial driving licence' helps employees to optimally define and exercise their managerial responsibilities within their team. A modular series of seminars teaches new managers how to improve their leadership behaviour in practice.
Encouraging the next generation of young professionals is also a fundamental aspect of STILL's training activities. STILL is involved in a number of projects in this area, including an alliance with the Career Center Hamburg, the SMS programme (STILL moves students) and cooperation with Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW), Kurt Körber High School and Helmut Schmidt University on the 'e-truck' robot construction project in Hamburg. These initiatives aim to establish ties with tomorrow's potential trainees, apprentices and employees while they are young.
The quality of the KION brands' training models has been recognised by external experts: a trainee at STILL was recognised by the Chamber of Crafts as 'Hamburg's best trainee 2011' for his outstanding exam results.
In the annual talent reviews, managers at STILL systematically identify staff with strong potential, high performers and experts in key functions and define development plans for them. Talented young professionals take part in various programmes that will enable them to flourish. One of these is STILL's International Junior Circle for international staff with high potential. Participants take part in various activities that will help them to develop, such as working on challenging projects as part of international teams and attending training courses on project and team management, change management and presentation skills. The Young Professional Programme in Germany is a chance for younger high performers to learn about a wide range of topics at STILL, providing them with an excellent insight into the company and the links between finance, marketing, production and development. This broadens their horizons and results in active STILL-wide networks.
Safety is an important topic, and the KION Group constantly provides initial and continuing training for its employees in this area. To improve safety at its sites, the KION Group conducted more than 1,000 training courses in Germany alone during 2011, including fire protection training, courses for safety officers and induction courses. In-depth analyses of accidents and detailed action plans are used to reduce risks in the workplace. Training for managers heightens safety awareness at all levels.
Standardised health, safety and the environment (HSE) audits are carried out at all production sites. The first step is to analyse the sites in detail. Local managers then work with their HSE auditor to define strategies and measures for making continuous improvements in the area of HSE.
At their annual international meeting with Klaus Hofer, Chief Human Resources Officer of the KION Group, the international HSE managers presented the activities they carry out regarding health, safety and the environment. The HSE experts were able to adopt good solutions for use at other sites. KION has also put in place an HSE policy that provides central guidelines on health, safety and the environment for all KION Group companies.
LMH responds to demographic change
The impact of demographic change on society poses a particular challenge to companies. LMH is developing healthy living programmes for an ageing workforce that will have to work for longer, flexible working-time models and attractive solutions that give women more options when it comes to combining a career and family. LMH's workplace support programme enables employees with problems in their personal or professional life to obtain counselling from qualified experts.
Good training and career development opportunities in an employee-oriented working environment that also meets changing expectations regarding work-life balance are key factors that help the brand companies to position themselves as attractive employers in the job market.
Brands and employees support society
Recognising their social responsibility, both the Executive Board and employees personally support numerous charities.
Following two earthquakes that devastated large areas of the eastern Turkish province of Van, KION and Linde Material Handling each donated around €35,000 to the rebuilding of the main lecture hall at Yüzüncü Yil University in Van. This gesture demonstrates the Group's support for education projects in its local markets.
STILL sponsors the Mittagskinder e.V. foundation, which looks after children from deprived areas of Hamburg, providing them with lunch and help with their homework on a regular basis as well as giving them the chance to take part in educational activities. Other associations supported by STILL are Kinderkrebs-Zentrum Hamburg e.V., which supports children with cancer, Switch e.V., which runs multicultural projects, and the Nordchance training programme, which helps young people with limited employment prospects. For more than ten years now, STILL has employed a group of workers from Winterhuder Werkstätten, an organisation that trains and integrates people with disabilities.
LMH established the StaplerCup hilft e.V. association in 2008 to support charities that look after children, young people and the elderly. The association arranges charitable events and collects donations at the final of the StaplerCup ('truck cup') tournament. In 2011, StaplerCup hilft e.V. donated €7,500 to Deutscher Kinderhospizverein, a children's hospice association in Germany, and the same amount to Suppenschule, which provides childcare in Aschaffenburg. LMH trainees organised a charity tombola at the 2011 StaplerCup, raising €15,000 for Initiative für Tapfere Kinder. This charity provides financial assistance for severely ill children, supports the integration of young people with disabilities into everyday life and helps orphans and street children.
A number of KION sites in various countries have stopped giving gifts to customers at Christmas and use the budget instead to support the work of charitable organisations. For example, Linde Lansing Fördertechnik AG (Dietlikon/Switzerland) donated five warehouse trucks to support the logistics processes of Schweizer Paraplegiker-Stiftung, a unique foundation in Switzerland that helps people with spinal paralysis.