Research and development

R&D expenditure went up by 8.5 percent to €162.8 million compared with the prior-year period (H1 2022: 150.0 million). This equates to 2.9 percent of revenue (H1 2022: 2.7 percent). R&D costs totaling €110.7 million were recognized directly as expenses in the income statement (H1 2022: €96.4 million). There were also amortization charges on capitalized development costs of €60.3 million (H1 2022: €52.8 million), which are reported under cost of sales.

Research and development (R&D)

in € million




Q1 – Q2

Q1 – Q2


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Focus of R&D in the first six months of 2023

Under the KION 2027 strategy, which was further refined in 2022, research and development is set up so as to support the KION Group’s position as a leading global supplier of integrated and sustainable supply chain solutions and mobile automation solutions. In addition to continuous innovation geared to the needs of customers, another objective of the R&D activities is to reduce the complexity and diversity of the product range and to shorten development times for new products. R&D activities are focused on the two strategic fields of action ‘automation and software’ and ‘sustainability’.

Automation and software

The KION Group is continuously refining cross-brand solutions built on the use of automated trucks and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and including shared software platforms and integrated services.

STILL worked on the further development of automated guided vehicle systems as a response to the growing need of customers for scalable automation solutions that are quick to implement and integrate well into existing production and warehouse structures. One of STILL’s areas of focus was the development of self-learning trucks and AMRs for environments in which both manual and automated vehicles are used side by side.

Moreover, partnerships are leveraged in order to drive forward R&D in the ‘automation and software’ field of action. Under the joint Canadian-German undertaking ARIBIC, for example, STILL is working on the algorithms, procedures, and data structures required to create a digital twin of a real-world warehouse by automated means that provides a full digital representation of all objects and their movements. Access to this information will pave the way for further digital products and services.

The collaborative CampusOS project, which was launched in 2022, seeks to establish an ecosystem for open 5G campus networks. To this end, STILL is building a 5G network of its own, using standardized technologies and interfaces. Working in collaboration with Dematic, intralogistics requirements are also taken into account to create the infrastructure for a networked warehouse of the future.

As part of KI.FABRIK, a project receiving public-sector support, concepts for a futuristic AI-controlled factory that harnesses digitalization and production process automation are being developed by the Technical University of Munich and partners from industry including Linde Material Handling.

The collaborative GRASS project, meanwhile, explores innovative approaches to developing mobile robotic order pickers with the aim of establishing automated picking processes in warehouses.

Dematic is involved in a joint AIGV project with the University of Edinburgh, which explores potential applications of reinforcement learning – an advanced machine learning training method – in the management of mobile robot fleets. This project is backed by funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Moreover, 2023 saw the launch of the AGENC research project, in which STILL is participating. The project focuses on studying data-driven learning methods that can train artificial intelligence (AI) to understand the behavior of cyber-physical systems. The goal is to reduce the need for resource-intensive testing as much as possible. STILL contributes to the development of these tools by compiling requirements and providing sample data.


The KION Group is forging ahead with the development and refinement of energy-efficient drive solutions, from internal combustion engines to various electric drive systems and fuel cells. For example, it is working on solutions for the entire lithium-ion battery lifecycle, including charging management, reconditioning, and recycling.

In April, Linde Material Handling expanded its range of X series models of electronic forklift trucks with lithium-ion batteries to include trucks with a load capacity of up to five tonnes. Baoli made lithium-ion batteries a standard specification feature in the value segment for the first time in its KBS 12 pallet stacker.

Linde Energy Manager is a new software solution that provides a comprehensive, transparent overview of a company’s energy supply situation and facilitates AI-assisted projections. The aim is to avoid electricity usage peaks while also reducing energy costs and carbon emissions. The new connect:charger module, which forms part of Linde’s fleet management solution, complements this software. It enables users to centrally coordinate and optimize the power management of truck fleets.

Linde Material Handling also developed its first proprietary fuel cell system, Linde HyPower, in the first half of 2023. To begin with, this system is being used in order pickers and tow tractors, with a view to adding it to pallet trucks and double stackers in future. Alongside vehicles and fuel cell systems, Linde also offers associated services. The fuel cell trucks deployed at the plant in Aschaffenburg are supplied by a dedicated green hydrogen infrastructure. This investment project has been supported by funding from the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport.