Energy- and resource-efficient products


The KION Group has always focused on delivering efficient products that conserve resources – and in doing so, on reducing greenhouse gases. This is why the related action fields in the KION sustainability programme are currently being updated and KPIs added. Through each unit and brand, numerous projects are being driven forward across the Group that are aimed at further optimising the energy efficiency of vehicles. Among them, work is ongoing into ultra-robust switched reluctance electric motors that are also tolerant of short-term overload. In addition, expansion of the range of vehicles with Li-ion drives is in the spotlight.

In fiscal year 2017 Linde and STILL expanded Li-ion technology to significantly more vehicles. Linde’s customers can now choose from over 30 warehouse technology models, including pallet stackers, double-deck loaders, pickers as well as reach trucks, which are all equipped with Li-ion batteries. This means they can cover virtually any logistics task in the warehouse using this technology.

Save energy, reduce emissions

With their gearless power transmissions, Linde forklifts require significantly fewer components than conventional forklift trucks, need less-frequent oil changes and stand out from sector competitors thanks to their particularly low fuel consumption. In addition, Linde industrial trucks do not require any brakes thanks to their hydrostatic drive, which eliminates the fine dust generated by brake pads. It has already been 15 years since STILL started to equip its counterbalance forklift trucks with maintenance-free, wet-running multi-disc brakes, so no fine dust is generated here either.

In the area of diesel forklifts, the EU Euro V emission standard is currently being implemented. This standard will apply from 2019 onward and affects all trucks between 19 and 56 kW. Compared to the current Euro III A standard, which is still permitted, the new standard reduces pollutant limits by 98 per cent in some cases.

Today, Linde and STILL diesel forklifts are already among the lowest-emission trucks on the market in all load-capacity classes. For instance, the particle mass of pollutant emissions of a Linde H25 to H35 EVO diesel forklift are 84 per cent lower than the statutory limit. In terms of hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) they are 26 per cent lower than the limit, and for carbon monoxide (CO) they are even 99 per cent lower. STILL model series RX70 diesel forklifts achieve similar outstanding results. This means customers and the environment benefit in equal measure, with achievable fuel savings of up to 17 per cent versus the competition according to the work cycle defined in VDI Guideline 2198.

In the area of electric forklifts, Linde products have the industry’s highest handling capacity with the lowest consumption figures – as proven in a certified test conducted by the German technical inspection association TÜV Nord to assess the performance of forklift trucks. The procedure is based on defined workflows which are completed three times under the same conditions by different trucks, whereby the actual consumption and the time required are measured.

In the reporting period the Industrial Trucks & Services segment once again achieved key milestones in improving truck efficiency. Linde’s Li-ion range has been expanded to include electric forklifts in the 1.8 to 3.5 tonne payload range, as well as reach trucks.

In 2017 Linde Material Handling also developed a Li-ion calculator that provides customers with a very specific recommendation for using Li-ion technology. The calculation includes application profiles and the corresponding simulation as well as specific advice on the profitability and cost-effectiveness of deployment.

In addition to cost-efficiency and environmental aspects, Dematic’s intralogistic solutions always focus on exploiting efficiency potentials too. The second generation of the Dematic multishuttle warehouse system for the storage and retrieval of items allows for much higher storage densities and, thanks to a higher utilisation ratio, a resource reduction compared to the preceding generation.

Dematic is also setting energy-efficiency standards once again with its new AutoStore storage and retrieval system. Together, ten of the robots used in the system consume less energy in total than a conventional vacuum cleaner. AutoStore is the perfect addition to Dematic’s existing systems. An even higher storage density allows further energy savings to be achieved through reduced space requirements, with correspondingly positive effects on the TCO.

Further achievements in the reporting year included the launch of the 24-volt version of the motor roller for light to medium weight goods. In addition, a Sleep Mode was integrated into the firmware for Dematic multishuttles, which puts the shuttles into standby mode if no operation orders are pending. The geared motors were also converted to the new IE3 energy-efficiency class for the European BK10 and BK25 conveyor technology construction kits.

Innovative drive technologies

The development of new drive technologies in KION’s Industrial Trucks & Services segment centres on Li-ion batteries. Challenges in this area include the development of entry-level products for emerging markets and the general availability of suitable battery cells in the sourcing markets. The sale of Li-ion solutions also brings with it new challenges and tasks such as energy consulting and management, which will play a greater role in future – as will the development of appropriate vehicle-rental models.

Li-ion batteries offer a host of benefits over conventional lead-acid batteries. In addition to significantly faster charging times, as well as a three to four-times longer service life, the energy density of these batteries is considerably higher, with an efficiency of over 90 per cent. This allows customers to achieve savings of around 30 per cent both in terms of their energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions compared to a conventional battery-charger combination. Set-up and maintenance costs are also reduced, and the faster charging times open up completely new and more flexible operating models. And because there is no outgassing during charging, special charging areas are no longer required.

The KION Group is adopting a systematic approach to developing Li-ion technology. As batteries are designed specifically for the trucks, and the battery and truck communicate with each other via a smart energy-management system, virtually 100 per cent of the available energy can be utilised. At the same time, the truck’s battery-status indicator always displays an estimate of how many operating hours remain. At the same time, communication between the vehicle and battery ensures that the driver is warned in good time before switching off the battery and can put the truck into crawl mode. The electronics also prevent overloading and over-discharging.

Linde Material Handling already offers Li-ion models across all forklift truck series with a payload capacity of up to 5 tonnes, with Li-ion technology covering all high-capacity vehicles. The portfolio is currently being expanded to include high-lift, low-lift and double-deck loader models as well as electric forklifts in the 5 to 8 tonne payload range. By the end of 2019, 90 per cent of all of STILL trucks are to be equipped with this new, environmentally friendly technology.

At the customer’s request, fuel cells can also be integrated into Linde Material Handling EMEA and STILL EMEA’s industrial trucks. This technology generates the electrical energy directly on board the truck – virtually emissions-free – required by the electric drives for propulsion, hydraulics and auxiliary units. The proven electric drive systems can therefore be employed, but 1:1 replacement of lead-acid batteries by fuel cells in an existing mass-produced model remains a challenge that only a few manufacturers are rising to meet. Developers are also focusing on the durability and reliability of systems, as well as the required vehicle-refuelling infrastructure. The limited supply of fuel cells with the required power output is hampering progress, as cells that can deliver more than 10kW of power are not currently available.

In 2018 the ITS segment will expand the existing range of fuel-cell trucks to include electric forklifts capable of handling payloads of up to 2.0 tonnes as well as models in the 5-tonne range. The fuel-cell portfolio is also being expanded in the warehouse area too, with products being shaped by customer requirements. KION aims to also offer a full range of fuel-cell trucks alongside its Li-ion technology offering.

Dematic is also one of the pioneers of innovative drive technologies. Dematic storage and retrieval systems have been equipped with energy-recovery systems as standard since as far back as 1995. The new UL1200-1 storage and retrieval systems for instance only consume around 200 watts net for one storage/retrieval cycle, as the drive’s braking energy is supplied directly to the lifting motor in the system. Excess energy can be fed back to the power grid and used for other purposes. And thanks to the lightweight construction and energy recovery system, energy savings of up to 30 per cent are achievable compared to systems without these characteristics.

Life Cycle Assessments – an overview of the entire product lifecycle

Ever since 2014, customers of Linde Material Handling EMEA who want to assess and improve their environmental performance have received robust data, which was updated in 2016. Together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics (IBP) and certified by TÜV Rheinland, Linde has developed its own methodology to assess the environmental impact of its trucks over their entire lifecycle – from the extraction of raw materials, production of each individual component, use by the customer, through to recycling at the end of the product lifecycle. An updating of the assessment and corresponding recertification are planned for 2018.

The LCA methodology is based on the requirements of ISO 14040 and 14044, which ensure a uniform approach is taken and provide the corresponding transparency in terms of environmental impact. The corresponding Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) – which are also certified by TÜV Rheinland – are produced based on the methodology developed for seven product groups covering the main truck range.

A reference model was selected and assessed in detail in each product group. Typically, the model chosen was the best-selling truck in its class in Europe.

It is clear across all product groups that most of environmental impacts are caused while the trucks are being used. This is where the most energy is used, and so greenhouse gas emissions are also highest in this phase. In the case of electric trucks, the battery system also plays a key role. The production and maintenance of industrial trucks is almost as equally important. On the basis of this, in 2017 a product subgroup evaluation tool was created that focuses on the most relevant utilisation phase.

Truck rental and used-truck schemes: reducing costs, conserving resources

For a number of years now, KION’s operating units have offered cost-effective equipment suitable for any application – from diesel, LPG or electric forklifts to warehouse technology, tow tractors, system trucks and heavy trucks – to customers who want to purchase a used industrial truck. In 2017 one in five forklifts sold in the Company’s Industrial Trucks & Services segment was an item of used equipment. Typically, these are former fleet trucks which were maintained under a maintenance agreement right from the outset according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. These trucks go through a standardised process to check them thoroughly when they are returned and, depending on their condition, made ready for reuse. Damaged truck components are repaired or exchanged, and only original spare parts are fitted – ensuring that even used trucks meet KION’s high standards at all times.

After all the work is completed, a warranty is issued for each refurbished truck, which guarantees the high quality and safety standard. Linde’s ‘Approved Trucks’ seal and STILL’s used-equipment classification in gold, silver or bronze make it clear that trucks meet this standard. As a result, the buyer purchases a reliable, high-performance truck – and makes a significant contribution to conserving resources by extending the truck’s service life. Wherever possible, used components are also used.