Product responsibility

Part of the non-financial report
NfR: Product safety


The safe, ergonomic operation of all KION Group products has always been a focus of KION’s product development activities. As part of the product development process, all KION Group products are tested for their health and safety impacts in accordance with legal requirements.

The KION Group’s sustainability programme deals with safety, ergonomics and compliance with product-related and operational environmental regulations in the field of product responsibility. Its overarching objective is clear: All products must comply with the laws and regulations in the respective countries. Work is currently underway to define further KPIs and detailed objectives, with LMH EMEA’s activities from previous years serving as the model. On the basis of the objectives set for LMH EMEA, an initial document was produced to standardise the ongoing measures. It should be possible to take a comprehensive look at the activities in the fields of product responsibility and energy- and resource-efficient products on the basis of feedback from the individual operating units by the beginning of 2019. It is anticipated that Group-wide key performance indicators will be adopted in the course of 2019.

In the reporting year, the company was not notified of any instances or significant fines owing to non-compliance with laws and regulations concerning the supply and use of products and services, or their impact on health and safety.

Manufacturer’s responsibility

The KION Group is aware of its responsibility as a manufacturer, and adheres rigorously to product and operational environmental regulations. A key task in this regard, and one which is also a constant challenge, is substituting chemical substances that may be harmful to humans or may have an adverse effect on the environment. In the past, the company already initiated a range of activities aimed at replacing hazardous substances in the product process and sales products.

Among them, in 2016 the KION Group committed itself to eliminating components that are manufactured using chromium VI. Since then, the company has been working on its implementation and has achieved a number of milestones. For example, the drawings and specifications for many development projects have already been converted to components not containing chromium VI. The technical conversion of standard and standardised parts as well as already identified drawing parts has now been completed and implemented in the supply chain. The European ITS production sites will in future not source any parts containing chromium VI from suppliers. However, the lack of availability of certain parts in the market and the identification of suitable suppliers in Asia remain challenges.

At the same time, Purchasing took specific steps in 2018 to increase transparency regarding the substances and mixtures used throughout the Group (see section on Sustainable procurement).

Focus on operators’ safety

The KION Group’s products, in particular those of the premium brands Linde and STILL, set standards in terms of safety. Besides the ISO 3691 standard, which regulates the safety requirements for vehicles, other laws and regulations apply in Europe, ranging from directives on electromechanical compatibility and explosion protection to the Outdoor Noise Directive on noise protection and road traffic regulations.

Globally, the respective national laws set the framework and the sales unit in the respective country is responsible for compliance. In addition, each operating manual is issued with a reference to compliance with national law.

But the KION Group goes beyond these legal requirements. Numerous tests and trials with KION Group trucks are designed to ensure maximum safety for operators and the environment. Besides procedures such as the simulation of different driving conditions, or load tests in which weights are dropped onto the roof of the truck, KION also employs in-house developed test methods in the product development process. In some cases, these go far beyond the requirements set out in the relevant standards.

This results in safety solutions that always focus on the operator of the industrial truck. Active and passive safety systems offer maximum safety and reduce the risk of accidents.

Assistance systems offered by Linde (Safety Pilot, Speed Assist) and STILL (OPTISAFE, OPTISPEED 4.0) support the driver in critical situations and largely rule out human error during operation. There are also extensive safety packages that make it possible to perfectly adapt the vehicles to the various areas of application. The range here extends from warning lights and auxiliary headlamps to panorama mirrors, load guards and grid protection roofs, to warning systems such as Linde TruckSpot and STILL BlueSpot, which project optical signals in front of the industrial truck and thus help to prevent collisions.

The operating units work continuously on adding to and advancing the systems. In 2018, for instance, STILL introduced the Rescue Alert feature in its new MX-X picking truck. The system sends an alarm to the surroundings if the driver collapses unobserved while up high, so that potentially life-saving measures can be taken very quickly. Linde expanded its range of existing assistance systems in 2018 to include the Safety Guard, a system that warns vehicle operators and pedestrians in the immediate vicinity via sound, flashing LEDs or vibration. This defuses dangerous situations before accidents occur.

In Supply Chain Solutions, the Dematic specialists consider safety aspects when developing innovative logistics solutions. Smart control software not only increases efficiency but also helps to minimise risks through optimised coordination and control. After the supply chain solution is installed, Dematic supports customers if they have any safety optimisation concerns.

In the reporting year, Dematic made further progress in terms of product safety. A safety circuit was developed for the Dematic Multishuttle, which makes it possible to service the shuttles while they are connected to the power supply. The circuit ensures that the shuttle axes are immovable and safe maintenance work is possible. Thanks to the new technology, once the maintenance work has been completed, the shuttle is immediately ready for use again.

Comprehensive safety consulting services

All operating units offer their customers comprehensive training measures and product handling instructions, some of which go beyond the legal requirements. A good example in this context is the Linde Safety Scan. With this tool, LMH EMEA has been making its safety experience available also for the design of internal logistics processes since 2017 and supports customers in the analysis and elimination of safety risks. Specially trained experts, the Linde Safety Consultants, evaluate internal passenger and vehicle traffic, work together with the customer to develop specific recommendations for organisational and technical solutions and support the implementation.

Ergonomics as a development goal

Anyone who drives an industrial truck the whole day appreciates good ergonomic controls that minimise the stresses and strain of operation on the driver. All operating units are involved in relevant projects, as the KION Group intends to be the benchmark in its industry also in this area.

The range of equipment variants and standard equipment available to customers shows how serious the company is about ergonomics: Multi-adjustable workstations with elements such as ergonomically shaped joysticks, height-adjustable seats, suspension of the workstations, displays for visualising and operating vehicle functions, patented, particularly ergonomic workstations on low-platform trucks – these are all measures designed to contribute to optimum vehicle operation, focused on the perfect interaction between operator and machine.

A particular emphasis of the operating units in the ITS segment lies on reducing human body vibration – mechanical oscillations and vibrations to which the drivers and operators of forklift trucks and warehouse technology are exposed during the course of their everyday work. Even when some individual vibrations are hardly noticeable, in sum they are a considerable burden on operators.

Consequently, the premium brands Linde and STILL in particular consistently work on technologies to effectively protect the operators from these impacts. Once again, the goal is to exceed the applicable standards for the benefit of the operators. For the majority of the product portfolio of the two brands, decoupled cabs, vibration-damped seats or damped driver workstations are therefore available as standard or optional equipment. Decades of commitment are taking effect: Linde products not only fall well within legal limits, they are also often considered the benchmark in the industry.

Dematic intralogistics solutions also help to reduce workflow activities that have a particularly adverse ergonomic impact while making the working day safer and healthier – through process optimisations that reduce the number of steps required to perform a task and therefore reduce the number of manual processes required. The goal is to always relieve as much strain on the order-picker as possible. Systems such as the AMCAP automated mixed-case palletising system and the RapidPick XT robotic picking system go further still, requiring no operators at all. Current activities focus on further improvements of sensors (camera systems) and actuators (grippers) for the comprehensive use of robotics and automated solutions.