Capital expenditure by the KION Group in the year under review amounted to €133 million, up by 7.7 per cent compared with 2010, owing to the continued market recovery in Europe and the additional business in China and Brazil. During 2011, capital expenditure (excluding equity investments and additions to leased assets) was focused on product development and the subsequent adjustments in production, on the streamlining of production and on IT systems. Other major capital expenditure projects – construction of the production facility in Brazil and the new KION Asia development centre in Xiamen – resulted from expansion.
In São Paulo, the KION Group began to build a new production site for counterbalance trucks last year. Significant capital was spent on the building and infrastructure in 2011. Good progress had been made on the construction work by the end of the year, and production at the new site is therefore expected to start up in mid-2012.
The KION Group uses an innovative and collaborative product development process for its trucks. This process shortens the development period, optimises the cost of both development and manufacturing and improves product quality. Duplication of work is avoided by making sure that all of the necessary departments are involved in the product development process at a very early stage. This forms the basis for financially viable, customer-focused products in existing markets and for the rapid expansion of the product range, especially in South America, Asia and eastern Europe.
At Linde's Aschaffenburg plant, one of the biggest projects in terms of capacity and cost was the refinement of the vehicle and mast concepts for reach trucks. This type of truck, which was built in Basingstoke (United Kingdom) until 2010, was significantly improved in terms of safety, performance, comfort, reliability and efficiency and has now moved into series development. Other capital expenditure in 2011 went on the new generation of electric forklift trucks with a load capacity of 2 to 5 tonnes; they have now gone into full production. There were also investments in the development of very narrow aisle trucks and in alternative drive technologies, such as hybrid technology, fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries.
The STILL brand's investing activities at its Hamburg site focused largely on the development of new trucks and refinement of existing ones as well on the integration of hybrid storage technology into its products. For example, the company pushed ahead with developing an IC/electric forklift truck with a load capacity of 6 to 8 tonnes and a STILL IC truck in the 2.2 to 3.5 tonne load capacity range with innovative hybrid storage technology. The enhanced compact electric/IC truck with a load capacity of 6 to 8 tonnes is designed especially to meet the requirements of the paper and beverage industries. This work is aimed at consolidating and expanding STILL's leading position in the fast-growing segment of heavy-duty and container trucks. The hybrid truck for the 2.2 to 3.5 tonne load capacity range is enabling STILL to steadfastly pursue its aim of minimising energy consumption and reducing CO2 emissions. STILL also invested in a reach truck with a vastly improved lift mast incorporating a mast damping system. The lift mast is based on the platform of the Linde model, thereby considerably lowering development costs as approximately 50 per cent of the parts are the same.
New product developments and legal changes regularly require modifications to the manufacturing process. In response to the amended European regulations on exhaust emissions, the KION Group invested in a new paint shop at its site in Luzzara, Italy, which will go into operation in 2012. Capital expenditure on a new technology for diesel engines reduced the emissions of KION trucks with diesel engines. The centralised European distribution centre for Linde spare parts, which is located in Kahl (Germany), began to invest in expanding and optimising its warehouse capacity in 2011 so that it can cope better with the increase in the high-margin spare-parts business. Capital expenditure is also used to modernise production machinery and to exploit the potential for greater efficiency offered by lean manufacturing processes.
The Group-wide IT system used in sales is being continually refined and optimised as part of the 'KION ONE Sales & Services' project. The KION ONE Infrastructure project also continued in 2011. Its aim is to merge the European data centres and optimise the existing infrastructure hardware and software.