Quality is crucial at wine-maker Cantina di Soave, whether in its wines or in its trucks. That is why the cooperative not only obtains its trucks from the KION Group but also uses its services. In turn, these services ensure a stable level of revenue and profitability for the Group.

Quality is crucial at wine-maker
Cantina di Soave, whether in its
wines or in its trucks. That is why
the cooperative not only obtains its
trucks from the KION Group but also
uses its services. In turn, these
services ensure a stable level
of revenue and profitability
for the Group.

It’s a picture-book slice of Italy. The old town of Soave is set amidst scenery dotted with cypress trees and vine-clad hills and is towered over by a medieval castle. Even if you’ve never visited, you’ll have seen the name on the labels of wine bottles. This small town lends its appellation to the most important export of the Veneto region and one of the best-known wines of Italy: the Soave Classico.

The wine is made by growers such as the Cantina di Soave. With around 2,200 members and more than 5,500 hectares under vine, this wine cooperative is one of the region’s largest producers – and also one of the oldest, having been founded back in 1898. Countless wooden casks, filled with the cooperative’s finest wines, are lined up one after another in long vaulted cellars. However, the winemaking itself is done mainly in the neighbouring modern stainless steel vats. The Cantina di Soave makes more than 30 million bottles of wine a year at its six sites. They are the fruits of a carefully coordinated production process.

Since 2008 the company has been using forklift trucks made by OM STILL. “Our production processes don’t make any excessive demands on the trucks,” says Filippo Pedron, oenologist and technical director of the Cantina di Soave. “Extreme temperatures, high humidity, toxic substances: the forklift trucks here don’t have to cope with any of this. What’s all the more important to us is that we are able to rely on the technology at all times.” This includes transporting the grapes into the chilled warehouses, where they are left to ripen on hundreds of pallets for up to three months, bringing consignments into the pressing and bottling plants and loading up the delivery lorries. The fleet is involved in almost every stage of the production process – breakdowns can have dramatic economic consequences.

STILL trucks: economic and versatile

One of the main reasons Pedron puts his trust in the Italian variant of the KION brand company STILL: “The battery is no different than those of other brands – but it lasts longer,” he says. STILL forklift trucks, thanks to their state-of-the-art technology, use less power than other models. Another key feature is their manoeuvrability. Some 13,000 bottles of wine are filled every hour when production is at full capacity at the Cantina di Soave. With all the traffic this generates and with the fragile nature of the products being transported, it is essential that the forklifts are precise and easy to operate.

The trucks help everything to run like clockwork and safeguard the company’s success. At the Cantina di Soave it’s not just about the bottom line: “We don’t want to grow for growing’s sake. It’s more important that we deliver the best quality and that we continually work to improve this – that doesn’t necessarily translate into market share,” says Pedron.

The idea of the cooperative is a simple one: winemakers pool their expertise and resources in agriculture, business and science in order to produce wine in a more efficient way and to market their products. This gives them freedom to hone their vinicultural craft. “Whereas the winemakers once simply sold on their grapes after the harvest, they are now part of a proper value chain,” says Pedron.

Watch and learn at the “experimental vineyard”

The Cantina di Soave offers its members support in the form of quality assurance seminars and its very own experimental vineyard, which offers stunning panoramic views across Soave. At high season in October, when all the grapes have been harvested and the wine production can begin, the vines take on a deep orange hue. The vineyard is then mainly a tourist attraction. Spring, however, is when the wine experts of the Cantina di Soave show their members how to cut the vines in order to get the best results, and tell them which grape promises to be of particular quality this year. Filippo Pedron: “At the end of the day, if every one of our members can get the best out of their vineyards, we all benefit.”

For Pedron and his team the focus is very much on quality rather than quantity. And that goes as much for the forklift trucks as it does for the wine. There are no plans to expand production volume in the years ahead. And so the Cantina di Soave truck fleet is initially not expected to grow. Nevertheless, the cooperative’s partnership with OM STILL holds further potential. For quality reasons, any decommissioned trucks made by other manufacturers will be replaced by OM STILL equivalents in the future.

Strengthen resilience through improved capital efficiency and higher margins.

When it comes to profitability and capital efficiency, the KION Group benefits from global synergies and economies of scale, shared modules and platforms, an in-market production network and a strategy of optimised manufacturing.

A wide range of services – including customer services, truck hire and sales of used trucks and spare parts – ensures a stable flow of revenue and attractive margins. The service offering is currently being expanded with the addition of automation solutions and fleet management. The service business already contributes more than 40 per cent of the KION Group’s revenue.

Around 1.2 million KION trucks are in operation around the world. The KION Group has potential here to grow its service business even further. It will do so through approximately 1,300 sales and service outlets that are situated near to customers so that support for products can be delivered quickly and efficiently when required.

Resilient service revenues
The KION Group’s global revenues (in €bn)

Resilient service revenues (bar chart)