That’s it! Over 7,000 visitors from roughly 50 countries – mainly customers, but also dealers, business partners and employees – attended the second World of Material Handling from 9 to 25 May. Under the motto “linked perspectives”, Linde presented four interconnected trends: AutomationIndividualisationConnectivity and Power Systems. It was a kind of guide for visitors, offering them orientation for the future challenges of dealing with flows of materials in warehouses, in production plants and beyond.

Why did Linde organise the event this way? What did the visitors get out of it?

No, Linde does not simply sell forklift trucks. It needs and wants to keep up with the times. It would have been easy to line up new products and present new services: “Roll up and take a look at the wonderful things we have to offer – and buy!” That’s what we are used to at fairs. All the manufacturers offer their goods for sale, the music boxes roar and everything is done to get customers into a positive mood. Somehow I personally find such strategies old-fashioned. A market leader can no longer afford to rely on traditional strategies of this kind in an age characterised by an increasingly closely networked economy in which global flows of goods are managed ever more collaboratively, modern communication systems are drastically cutting the distance between customers and companies, and development cycles are becoming shorter and shorter.

Customers have questions that cannot be addressed using the “Look, these are our forklifts” model. Of course, there are still customers with simple requirements. Of course, on the other hand, there are more and more customers who need and want to know which direction they should take in the near future. Some of them cannot afford a strategy department, nor do they have time for market research. An event format like World of Material Handling addresses the needs of both sides.

It is therefore only logical that Linde thinks ahead. If not Linde, who else? Linde considers itself responsible for ensuring that its customers receive the optimum solutions, products that will not be outmoded in five years. Think, for example, of OptiPick. Should all customers really continue to drive around the warehouse in manual industrial trucks? What an old-fashioned idea! Or should the young fourth-generation owner-manager continue to wonder where his vehicles are located when incoming orders need to be processed in 2018? No localisation system in the 21st century? Why did Linde present the mother of all modern logistics systems?

These questions about the future are what it is all about. Industry never stands still. If you think you can simply wait 20 years until the digitalisation wave has swept you by, you are leaving the field open to the competition.

Florian Heydenreich made it very clear in his presentation “Dismantling rigid structures – changes and drivers in intralogistics”: “Intelligent solutions, e.g. the intelligent factories of the future, are characterised by their adaptability, resource efficiency, ergonomic design and the integration of customers and partners – all of which speaks for including flexible processes in value streams.” You can close your eyes to what is happening and continue to tread established paths or you can confront the future. And that is precisely what Linde did by offering visitors crucial insights. A normal trade show is sufficient for those who only want to see products. If you still want to be managing a logistics business in 20 years’ time, then I sincerely recommend Linde’s strategy. It doesn’t get better than that!

Who is Linde?

If there is one thing I can say after three weeks of World of Material Handling, it is this: in all my 49 years I have never experienced another company that thinks so much for and on behalf of its customers. Is it the “forklift authority”? No, you can’t compare it with a government authority, that would be too slow. That meaning of the word does not fit. The form of quality awareness – thinking things through to the very last screw and not only scratching the surface until it shines – demands effort.

Great effort was shown by the whole team on site during the WoMH. Here I would like to express the greatest of thanks to everyone who provided support.

Das Stand- und Orgapersonal der WoMH 2016

An industry of invisible helpers – a few personal words

Who delivers our food? Who supplies us with clothes? Where do all the goods come from that we use every day? Sometimes we order today and the doorbell rings just a few hours later. For us as consumers the world of logistics is a closed book. We never see it, we know nothing about it. Nevertheless, it is always there, although invisible. Do you know anyone who has ever said “Thank you for doing your job!”? Why not actually? The world would stand still without these unseen elves, without this industry of invisible helpers. That is a very simple fact, but unfortunately one that is also very quickly forgotten. So, let me say a big “thank you” on behalf of the many people today who will reach into a shelf for what the logistics industry has conjured up!