With the WoMH Daily Report you won’t miss something

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From 9 until 25 May, we reported daily about the main developments of the WoMH. In our blog, we give an overview about the news of the agenda, exciting stories about the experts, first hand details about launched products of Linde Material Handling and a lot more.

My review of WOMH 2016 – a thank you to the invisible helpers

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!

Interview: Kerry McDonagh – UK

Kerry McDonagh is Managing Director of Linde Material Handling in the UK and we had a very interesting discussion with some quite fascinating findings. It was about the possible future of material handling and what this future holds in store for the customers as well as for Linde. Curtains up for an enlightening interview with a dialogue partner who puts things in a nutshell.

 

Flag EN  Read more about UK in the country profil: United Kingdom – efficient fleet managers

Interview: Georges Giovinazzo, Italy

At the WoMH 2016 we were able to talk to Georges Giovinazzo from Linde Material Handling – he is the Managing Director of Linde in Italy. He told us about the challenges and needs of his customers in Italy. The interview is about their feedback on the World of Material Handling but also about Italy’s economic development and outlook. The curtain rises:

Flag IT  Read more about Italy in the country profil: Italy – provider of customer-oriented solutions

Automation demonstration: dance of the machines

A real crowd puller at WOMH 2016 was the fully automated robot theatre in the Automation section where, among other things, the latest Linde Robotics product, the K-MATIC narrow-aisle truck, was demonstrated. I asked Clement Masson, one of the responsible experts, to explain the demonstration plant to me. Accompany us into the future – to the era of automated warehouse management and the world of driverless industrial trucks equipped with 3D cameras and steered by lasers.

The technology used in the Linde Matic range does not make tracks, reflectors and other guidance systems redundant. These vehicles can navigate through warehouse buildings autonomously with the aid of geoguidance. And they talk to one another, which can create a fascinating ballet. Instead of waiting, the trucks approach one another to hand over warehouse goods. In addition, the technology is flexible enough to enable phased automation, which makes possible the mixed operation of manual and automated processes.

It’s time to start the show:

Lead-acid dinosaurs face extinction

A veritable wave of hype has swept through the car industry in the wake of the Tesla. Logistics experts, however, can only raise a weary smile about this development because electrically powered industrial trucks have long been a reality in their sector. In fact, at WOMH 2016, Linde has presented a new generation of battery-driven vehicles. In the Power Systems section I had the opportunity to talk with specialists who explained the lithium-ion technology.

Compared to conventional wet-cell technologies, lithium-ion batteries offer several striking advantages. The main argument in their favour is the charging technology. While lead-acid batteries require “some employees to go to work especially on weekends to exchange and charge the batteries” – according to Christoph Englert, product manager for electric forklifts – that is no longer necessary with the new technology. The trucks can be charged at any time and in a significantly shorter period; charging can even be done for short periods in-between. Time-consuming battery changes become a thing of the past. In addition, there is no longer any need for a special charging room with an appropriate ventilation system. Space is expensive, and this cost can now be saved.

One thing became very clear during WOMH: customers and dealers unanimously agreed that sooner or later lead-acid batteries will be replaced by more modern lithium-ion ones. And at Linde, following the new technology’s successful entry into the warehouse technology sector, it is now also being introduced in counterbalance lift trucks.

However, Linde has also undertaken a great deal of development work in the fields of battery management and safety. Its employees were proud to be able to emphasise just how many safety features have been integrated – ranging from protection against overcharging and overheating to deep discharge protection.

Let’s look at another example of what the technology offers: when a truck rolls down a slope, it switches over to energy recovery. In other words, the battery is charged. However, if the charge level is already at 100%, the battery would be overcharged and suffer damage as a result. The engineers have integrated overcharge protection to prevent that, explains Christoph Englert. Metal strips have been built in the battery housing that absorb surplus energy and then dissipate it as heat energy when there is a danger of overcharging.

WOMH 2016 - Overloading Protection

Linde has even patented this system. The company also came up with a new idea for preventing deep discharge. When the battery charge falls to 10%, the vehicle is limited to creep velocity. And at 2% charge the forklift is completely switched off to be able to move the truck to the next charging station in standby mode. After all, pushing just isn’t possible.

Let’s look at safety. Everyone has heard of the exploding batteries that have blown up in the faces of mobile phone users. The batteries in hoverboards from the Far East are also said to frequently go up in smoke. As already mentioned, Linde has built in a number of ingenious features to prevent the battery coming to harm. But what happens in a crash? Won’t the battery explode? I hope you will still be able to see the crash-test video that was shown to visitors at WOMH. An 8-tonne IC forklift smashes into an electric lift truck at 20 km/h with the fork arm in front going straight into the side. And what happens? Nothing! Because the battery is encased in centimetres-thick steel (2.5 cm!), the battery cell is at most slight dented, but definitely not pierced. And that is probably what we would expect of a Linde forklift – it has to be robust and safe.

WOMH 2016 - E-Stapler E16 EVO

E16 EVO

While Tesla is still scoring points for developing early demand for electric vehicles, the second generation of electric forklifts is already entering warehouses.

The mother of all systems: localisation

The mother of all systems? We’re talking about localisation, a subject you cannot ignore if you have long-term plans to implement a fully networked intralogistics system down to the very last wheel nut. Localisation technology enables you to locate goods, containers and all your vehicles – and track what happens next. Hard to believe? It might seem so, but if you consider what managing a fleet or material flows is all about, you always end up back at the same question: Where are my trucks? Only once you have an answer can you begin realising an application for monitoring your forklifts or finalise your start-to-finish warehouse management system. But let’s start at the beginning. I had the chance to find out more about this rapidly developing technology by talking with Colin Flint and Franziska Klein who are part of the Connected Solutions team at Linde. That is where they work on the systems that I personally feel are the wave of the future when it comes to logistics.

Safety first: people are more important than boxes

We need to find out where the vehicles and people are. Why? Colin Flint explains: “Safety first, which means people before boxes!”  Zone monitoring is step number one on the “roadmap” the Connected Solutions team are using to develop the overall system. That means defining the zones – the virtual areas within a given space, be it a warehouse or production facility – where different speed limits apply. When a vehicle enters a zone, its speed is automatically limited to the maximum allowed in that area. That’s not all: employees are explicitly warned whenever they enter a dangerous zone. Now let’s take a leap and imagine the next logical step: the system is equipped with crash-prevention features. Injuries would be a thing of the past; no truck would ever collide with another vehicle. That’s because if the system knows where A and B are located, it can prevent them from running into each other. As far as possible applications go, it’s a no brainer.

The logistics manager would, of course, have a map in front of them depicting the positions of everyone and everything. They would even be able to redefine the zones and speed limits as needed:

WOMH 2016 - Lokalisierung

Linde Material Handling is presenting the technological basis for such an application here at WoMH, namely the tagging system it is developing together with localisation specialist Quantitec, a system that makes it possible to identify where people, machines and containers are currently located. Think of those James Bond films where a tiny transmitter is attached to a car so that its position appears on a computer screen back at headquarters. But to be used in the world of intralogistics, the technology must, first, be robust enough. Second, it must function indoors. The solution here is “wireless triangulation” and multiple sensors that can provide highly accurate tracking – within two centimetres, to be precise. It’s a much better approach than using GPS, which is the solution most people think of first. The problem with GPS is, it doesn’t really work indoors. The signal is deflected by walls and ceilings, so the results are anything but precise.

Let’s watch a short video which illustrates the basic idea. Keep your eye on the moving red dots – they represent vehicles and people. You’ll also see a person entering a zone that, for demonstration purposes, immediately becomes green.

Further development and outlook

It all starts with localisation – which is why it’s not an exaggeration to call it “the mother of all systems”. As soon as the localisation system is installed, the tracks are clear for all the follow-on applications. The second step on the roadmap used by the Connected Solutions team is implementing a monitoring system for trucks. The last step entails creating a complete warehouse management system, or WHS for short. It would work as follows: 1) The order is entered into the ERP system. 2) The WHS knows exactly where the nearest available vehicle is that’s suitable for doing the job. 3) This is because the location of every vehicle and/or every driver with vehicle is being transmitted to the system, along with whether the vehicle is currently carrying out another task or not. 4) The system then chooses the vehicle optimally positioned to fill the order, which the vehicle/driver does. 5) The desired goods are transported to the shipping department or loading dock. Mission accomplished!

Getting ready

As far as I’m concerned, it can’t be emphasised enough: the future is going to be all about these types of systems. Analog devices without sensors or network connections will only be found in museums. Anyone looking for more intelligent solutions – solutions that don’t leave the logistical details, i.e. the last few metres, to chance – will have to think about these things. And let’s be honest: today’s solutions are just the tip of the iceberg. They merely hint at the overall potential and countless advantages waiting to be discovered. Here’s one example: traffic-flow planning based on retrospective heatmaps that makes hotspots less hot and accident-prone intersections less dangerous.

The truth be told, I was shocked to learn that the localisation processes described above still occur at many companies either by having someone call out the relevant information or by walking it over. In other words: using sound waves or paper! No one at those companies knows exactly which order has just been completed, where the vehicles are currently located, what condition they are in, and which driver is in which truck. Unbelievable! I always thought the 21st century was going to be more modern. Yet that is exactly where the opportunity lies: moving traditional warehouse management forward so that all customers are taking advantage of digital technology everywhere. That is why the topics of connectivity and, in particular, indoor localisation are my personal favourites.

Modern technology for vehicle checks

The term “connectivity” describes a coming era in which industrial trucks, employees and warehousing systems will all interact with each other using electronic solutions. This digital-age trend is becoming more evident in the area of intraglogistics as well. But what does that mean in practice? Here’s an example.

Pre-op check

Linde Material Handling presented a new application at WoMH that will soon be available to vehicle operators. Called the pre-operational check – or, more informally, the pre-op check– it allows drivers to use an Android smartphone to carry out the required assessment of the vehicle’s condition before starting work. The driver connects to the truck using Bluetooth and NFC and then fills out a questionnaire provided by the fleet operator. The questionnaire can be configured as needed. The driver’s access to the vehicle is verified and the vehicle is checked to ensure it is safe to use before it is started – all in accordance with the company’s operational standards and legal guidelines.

WOHM 2016 - Pre Shift Checkin

Step 1: The app connects with and identifies the vehicle using NFC.

WOMH 2016 - pre-shift-checkin App

Step 2: The driver answers questions about the vehicle’s condition using the app. If the vehicle is damaged, they can send information about the damage, including a picture.

If damage is found during the checking procedure, the relevant information is sent via email, which can also be individually configured, to the fleet manager, warehouse supervisor or service technician. In addition, the driver can snap a “selfie” of the vehicle and attach it to the email. Instagram for forklift trucks? In a way, yes. It ensures that the proper manager is immediately informed if there is a problem.

One feature that is a big help for companies with extensive premises is GPS tagging, which allows precise coordinates to be sent along with the picture. That means the service technician and fleet manager know exactly where the vehicle can be found.

These days, it’s as easy as that! Modern technology can help keep the fleet in top condition. Customers in the UK in particular are looking forward to the solution, which will be available shortly after WoMH closes, since they must meet special legal requirements and doing so is much more efficient using a smartphone.

But the app is capable of even more. It can be used to send individualised notifications to drivers – a message from the fleet manager, for example, that the operator’s driving licence must be renewed or that it’s time for a first-aid refresher course. And if the vehicle runs on lithium-ion technology, the app can display the battery’s current power level. Very practical!

Outlook

After speaking with the responsible colleagues it became clear that the app is not just a technological gimmick, but that the developers focused on creating an easy-to-use system that has practical features geared toward everyday situations. All of that makes life simpler for both fleet managers and drivers. I have the feeling this is not the app’s final iteration. Usually what happens is that people come up with additional ideas and suggestions once they realise a solution is worth using. That means Linde Material Handling should get ready now for the app’s next development wave.

Interviews: Jerome Wencker – Managing Director Fenwick-Linde

I had the chance to interview Jerome Wencker, he is Managing Director of Fenwick-Linde and Head of Sales & Service for Linde in Western Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. We were talking about the interests of the French customers who attended the World of Material Handling event, what actual challenges they are facing – now and in the near future – and how the market in France will develop from the perspective of logistics.

 

Flag FR  Read more about France in the country profil: France – tailor-made service contracts and robotics pioneer

And how do you like it here at the WoMH?

During last week we kept our ears open and wanted to know from customers, dealers and all other guests : “How do you like it here at the WoMH?” Here you find a sample of those statements in retrospect.

 

See and listen to the “Voices from the WoMH”:

 

This positive feedback gives us an extra motivation to start the final round today. Week 3 Begins.

150 trucks are heading to France – and here’s why

Why do visitors come to the World of Material Handling? To find out more about the latest trends and products, to take a closer look at Linde’s vehicles and services and, of course, to spend time talking with the company’s experts.

Why, then, shouldn’t business contracts also be signed, as they are at a trade fair? That, too, is one of the things that happen at WoMH. I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with a customer immediately after a deal was closed, namely with Pierre-Georges Chausson of France-based Chausson Matériaux. He will be leaving WoMH having signed a contract for 150 E30 forklift trucks.

WOMH 2016 - Customers

Pierre-Georges Chausson, president and managing director of Chausson Matériaux, and Christophe Lautray, managing director of Linde Material Handling.

 

Mr Chausson, how has your visit been to the World of Material Handling so far?
Let me start by saying that it’s an outstanding exhibition. Above all, I’ve seen interesting, forward-looking technological innovations. They’re interesting because they’ll result in new projects for us.

Could you tell us a bit about your company?
About Chausson Matériaux? We’re a family-owned company and we deal in building materials. That means we sell supplies to the building industry. We have 350 locations, of which 320 are sales offices and about 30 are production sites.

What were the main factors that led you to purchase vehicles from Linde Material Handling?
What were the criteria underlying my decision? Why Fenwick [the brand name Linde products are sold under in France]? First, Fenwick have excellent products. We’re located in a rural area of France and they have an outstanding maintenance network. And we’ve been dealing with each other for a long time, so there’s a lot of trust, which is important in a business relationship.

Mr Chausson , thank you.

 

Flag FR  Read more about France in the country profil: France – tailor-made service contracts and robotics pioneer

Dynamic Mast Control: Don’t swing!

A number of the visitors who have made their way to WoMH are forklift operators. I always enjoy speaking with them since I learn more about how they do their jobs “on the ground”. There’s one aspect that gets mentioned again and again: operators who work with reach trucks and have to approach racking bays eight metres in height or more always complain about the load beginning to sway. That’s because the mast can start swinging back and forth when the goods are removed from the bay or when the mast is moved while loaded. How long the swaying lasts can vary. It can even go on for up to half a minute depending on the size of the load and the height it’s being lifted to.

What does the operator do while this is happening? The less experienced ones simply sit and wait. A more experienced operator will begin moving the joystick very gently, causing counter-movements that bring the swinging to a halt more quickly. It’s not all that easy. And it takes time.

Dynamic Mast Control

Visitors at WoMH have the opportunity to ride to the top of a specially converted reach truck so they can experience Linde’s innovative solution to this problem with their entire body. They are elevated to a height of about ten metres and the driver then starts moving them – the “goods” – around. What they experience next is … absolutely nothing!

WOMH 2016 - Dynamic Mast Control

That’s because the truck has been outfitted with Dynamic Mast Control, a safety system developed by Linde. As soon as the operator at WoMH turns off the system – just for demonstration purposes, since the system normally can’t be shut off – the difference quickly becomes apparent. I rode to the top myself and was amazed how big the difference is. When DMC was not in operation I felt like I was up on the mast of a ship sailing the high seas. Ahoy! As soon as DMC was activated, however, the “seas” grew calm. I could basically feel no swaying at all.

WOMH 2016 - Dynamic Mast Control Demo

As an aside: the technicians installed an emergency button next to the seat for participants who might have second thoughts once they were at the top, just in case. The bell that rings sounds like an ordinary doorbell: ding dong! The operator called up to me to stop pushing the button, since I couldn’t resist trying it out.

To make things more understandable, we naturally have a video that illustrates what Dynamic Mast Control can do. However, when DMS is activated, there’s not really a lot to see. Curtain up:

Dismantling rigid structures – changes and drivers in intralogistics

The large crowd of WoMH visitors who came to hear Florian Heydenreich, Head of  Business Development at Linde Material Handling, were treated to a fascinating presentation. The talk’s focus was how the area of intralogistics is changing and the challenges and drivers the changes will bring. Here’s a summary of his presentation, which provides considerable food for thought.

Florian Heydenreich - Leiter Business Development Linde Material Handling

The year 2015 exceeded all expectations. The number of packages transported in Germany increased by 140 million compared to 2014. That’s an additional 400,000 packages each day – an impressive figure.

This alone illustrates the size of the task the logistics industry faces. The number of deliveries continues to increase each year. But it’s not just about rapidly increasing volume – flexibility and ever-shorter delivery times are also factors of growing importance.

In addition to the absolute number of shipments, things are set to become considerably more complex since the shipments will contain a smaller number of very diverse products. In other words, each shipment will be unique and will therefore require material handling processes that are highly flexible.

Changes in intralogistics: five main developments

Heydenreich grouped the coming changes into five developments:

  • Products will become more customer-specific.
  • Shipment sizes will decrease.
  • Delivery times will be shorter.
  • Manufacturers, suppliers and customers will be more connected.
  • Logistics will be more complex and shipments more diverse.

Key factors influencing change

Not all countries are facing the same challenges. Yet one key trend is that populations are ageing in developed countries. That means workforces are growing older, which is altering work environments.

This is requiring age-appropriate workplaces and a focus on ergonomics as a way of maintaining performance. In addition, more automation is needed to support employees and augment what they do.

Another factor is of course the increase in digitization, which is a huge challenge for businesses all around the globe. Digitization is spreading at a mind-boggling rate. People are already talking about the “Internet of Things”, which means the ability of ordinary objects to communicate with each other. For intralogistics, that represents nothing more than a step-by-step development toward Industry 4.0, a state of affairs that looks like this:

Systems know each other’s operational status and autonomously optimise their interactions, for example by responding ahead of time to potential bottlenecks in the supply chain. Thinking and working within networks and partnerships will therefore become more important.

Impact on productivity

Heydenreich clearly described the potential offered by increased connectivity and intelligent interactions:

The use of predictive maintenance could reduce maintenance costs by between 10 and 40 per cent, since the right replacement part would always be waiting next to the right machine at the right time. Another example is a reduction in downtime of between 30 and 50 per cent. This is possible thanks to forward-looking capacity planning and the prompt identification of tool wear. This amounts to an increase in efficiency of 18 per cent across all sectors over the next five years. Return on investment cannot, however, be the sole reason for implementing digitized and automated processes. Other considerations are the high levels of throughput as well as quality, safety and ergonomics.

Which responses to these trends does Linde Material Handling offer?

Heydenreich gave several concrete examples of cost-effective responses to the emerging developments:

  1. Climate neutrality and sustainability are becoming increasingly important issues as a result of climate change and the scarcity of resources. Currently 80 per cent of the vehicles manufactured by Linde are equipped with an electric motor – a figure that continues to rise. Since customer processes demand a lot of a vehicle’s battery, innovative technologies like lithium-ion solutions and fuel cells are the wave of the future.
  2. The challenges are giving rise to a number of key safety issues. The financial significance of these issues becomes clear when you consider that the average accident results in approximately €85,000 in costs. In addition to its duty to ensure no one is injured, Linde must work to increase safety levels for economic reasons. Possibilities here include safety hardware and consulting services targeting safety issues.
  3. Connectivity adds value first and foremost by reducing process-related costs. As soon as a vehicle is integrated into a system made up of intralogistic devices and software solutions, customers experience an ongoing, holistic optimisation of their processes – and an increase in value. In a step-by-step process, Linde’s vehicles are therefore offering greater connectivity and are becoming more integrated into their environment.
  4. Connectivity also means less downtime. In the future, wireless technology will be used to diagnose the problem and identify a solution even before the technician leaves for the service call. There will no longer be a need for lengthy discussions on site. And since the technician will know exactly what to bring along, there will be little time spent waiting for replacement parts.
  5. In the area of automation, autonomous vehicles can now get to know their environment and respond to it. If the environment changes because capacity is expanded or structures are improved, the vehicles quickly learn what is new and react accordingly. One recent develop even makes it possible for vehicles to identify obstacles and avoid them. Autonomous vehicles can prevent incorrect deliveries and damage during transport. They can also increase the transparency of material flows and can be deployed in challenging situations such as low-temperature or dangerous environments.
  6. In addition, fewer and fewer areas exist in which a very clear distinction must be made between processes requiring manual and automated solutions. Intelligent partnerships between humans and robots will play a greater role, as will the automated transport of small loads.

Let me end this summary with the following quote, which offers a very enticing glimpse of what’s coming:

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.

How order picking will be done in the future: the semi-automatic OptiPick system

One area being presented at World of Material Handling 2016 fascinates me in particular: automation. When people hear about his vast, diverse field they often think of robots replacing human beings. What many people forget is that semi-automatic systems are going to become more common in the near future. I’m referring to solutions that make it possible for people and machines to interact. Linde is creating one of these solutions. It’s called OptiPick and is still in development, but will soon be ready for its market launch.

It’s amazing to watch, thanks to its fluid handling and simple changeover from manual to automatic mode.

What is OptiPick and how does it work?

A colleague – one of the team responsible for developing the system – was nice enough to demonstrate it for me. As noted, it’s almost ready to be launched which means the odd technical detail or two might still be changed. At the moment it consists of a control unit – a computerised cuff – that the operator wears on their arm. The complete solution also includes the order picker N20, which communicates wirelessly with the cuff.

WOMH 2016 - OptiPicker Armband

The different ways the system can be used:

  1. The operator simply touches the cuff, thereby sending a command to the N20 which begins moving on its own. It proceeds parallel to the rack, covering exactly 2.80 metres, the length of a standard racking unit. Naturally a different distance can be programmed into the system. The truck stops after exactly 2.80 metres. The operator takes the package out of the rack and puts it next to the other items on the truck. Touching the cuff again causes the vehicle to drive to its next position. The key advantage of the system immediately becomes clear: the operator no longer needs to walk back and forth between the truck and the storage rack. The vehicle stays “obediently” at the operator’s side. As a result, the entire process is not awkward and lurching, but flexible and fluid.
  2. This time the operator tapped the control unit twice. That tells the N20 to skip one pallet and cover twice its normal distance, or 5.60 metres.
  3. If the operator needs to move to a rack located further away, all they have to do is maintain pressure on the cuff. The truck will continue moving until the operator tells it to stop by tapping the cuff again. It couldn’t be simpler – or more responsive.
  4. Tap – move – pick – tap – move – pick. That’s the magic formula.
  5. The operator can take control of the vehicle manually at any time simply by getting in as they normally would and beginning to steer. The shift from automatic to manual mode happens without any special commands or complex manoeuvres. All you do is climb in and start driving. Then get out, pick up an order, tap the cuff and send the N20 to its next stop. The video shows how smooth the whole process is.
  6. If an object or person is in the N20’s path while it’s moving, the vehicle will automatically stop thanks to sensors installed in the front that monitor a 180-degree area around the vehicle. The system is so intelligent that the vehicle will even drive around smaller obstacles. The truck also senses when it is at the end of a rack and it automatically remains in place in order to avoid moving into an area with cross-traffic. The system can also be programmed so the vehicle moves closer to or farther from the rack. The minimum distance is 55 centimetres.
WOMH 2016 - Der Kommissionierer N20

The N20 order picker with the OptiPick system

I only have one question: When will Linde Material Handling be offering a miniaturised system for use at home?

Interview: Marc Wehner, Head of Sales for Central Europe

Not only are 6,000 visitors from numerous countries expected at World of Material Handling 2016, many Linde specialists are also present at the event. I took the opportunity to talk with Marc Wehner about WoMH and the intralogistics market in general from the perspective of Linde Material Handling.

blog_wehner_01

Mr Wehner, what kind of feedback have you received from customers about WoMH?

Up until now the response has been overwhelmingly positive. That applies, on the one hand, to how we’ve designed World of Material Handling, namely to present our entire range of expertise. It also applies to how we’ve organised the German events, including everything from the plenum in the morning to the evening programme.

Do you see areas for improving the event?

We’re able to use this compact setting to give customers a look at everything we do, allowing them to enjoy the advantages such a gathering offers as opposed to a conventional trade fair. In addition, we can present much more than we could at a fair. To that extent, the quality of the contact is outstanding, both for the customers and for us.

Of the four areas presented at WoMH (Automation, Individualisation, Connectivity, Power Systems), have customers been asking for more information about one area in particular?

Naturally we are presenting many topics here that both focus on the future and represent a big step forward for our customers in terms of innovation. For me, however, it’s also important not to forget our traditional business. A large number of our customers will still be using conventional forklifts in ten years, and we want to provide outstanding service to them, too. That’s why it’s critical that in addition to new topics we also demonstrate things like our safety systems, which are playing a greater role in our existing vehicles. After all, we want to remain the supplier for all our customers. To that extent, I would not say that there has been only one highlight. Our customer base is much too broad for that.

Let’s say another World of Material Handling takes place. Why should customers who were unable to make it to this event take the opportunity to attend next time?

Because we will have moved forward in all the areas we’re presenting here. The things that are still technologies of tomorrow at this WoMH will be a lot closer to becoming reality by then. Customers and other visitors who can’t be here this time would undoubtedly leave the next WoMH with valuable insights.

Mr Wehner, thank you.

High-level visit from the Middle Kingdom

I mustn’t forget to mention a group of long-distance travellers who came to the World of Material Handling last Friday afternoon and, once there, took an in-depth look at the topics and new products being presented. Linde Material Handling is part of the KION Group, the world’s second largest producer of intralogistics solutions. The day after KION’s General Meeting, representatives of the group’s largest shareholder, Weichai Power, were keen to come to WoMH here in Offenbach to find out more about Linde’s innovations first-hand.

Visit of Weichai and KION at the Linde WoMH 2016

Linde CEO Andreas Krinninger welcomes the guests from China and Wiesbaden.

Equipped with info-iPads, Tan Xuguang, Chairman and CEO of Weichai Power Co Ltd, and Kui Jiang, Vice Chairman of Weichai, were joined by KION CEO Gordon Riske and an approximately 20-member delegation of Weichai, KION and Linde representatives as they ventured out to discover what the event had to offer. As has been true of many of the visitors to WOMH 2016, the guests from China were visibly impressed by what they saw – from the multimedia depictions of complex topics and coming trends to the practice-oriented, hands-on presentation of current technology. “This is how we have to visualise our vision of the future of our industry in China,” said Tan Xuguang after the group experienced the 3D hologram showing what intralogistics processes might very well look like in years to come.

This is where I can offer a preview of the Linde Perspectives presentation. The full-length version will be available on this website at the end of WoMH. And even if it’s only in 2D, it’s still exciting.

As noted, the practical demonstration was very well received. The visitors were just as impressed with the outstanding view from the Linde Roadster – regardless of whether it was from the driver’s seat or through data goggles – as they were with the interaction of the automated MATIC vehicles. Weichai Vice Chairman Kui Jiang even ventured into the LSP simulator to see how the safety features work in Linde’s E- and IC-forklifts.

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Weichai Chairman and CEO Tan Xuguang discovers the Linde Roadster…

Visit of Weichai and KION at the Linde WoMH 2016
… and Kui Jiang experiences the Linde Safety Pilot.

Visit of Weichai and KION at the Linde WoMH 2016

The Chinese-German delegation during the demonstration of the automated vehicles.
There were satisfied expressions on all sides as the tour concluded. The efforts to create a bridge between the technologies of today and the vision of tomorrow had clearly been successful.

Visit of Weichai and KION at the Linde WoMH 2016

Visit of Weichai and KION at the Linde WoMH 2016

Making sure your truck doesn’t tip over – Linde Safety Pilot

Every forklift truck driver should know his load chart. It shows how much weight you can lift, how big the load can be and how to keep balance. But drivers don’t always know exactly how much the load actually weighs or, for example, where the centre of gravity is in the case of a long load. Accordingly, it is not always possible to prevent accidents when handling a load. You’re going too fast, turn a corner too sharply, the centre of gravity shifts – and before you know it, you can watch yet another accident video on YouTube: domino effects in the high-bay warehouse. It sounds funny, but it isn’t.

The devil is in the details

Linde has spent years researching ways of preventing or at least reducing these kinds of accidents. Eventually the development laboratories produced a product that can probably be described as the most exciting safety solution of recent years in this field: Linde Safety Pilot. At its heart lies an electronic copy of the above-mentioned load chart. Using sensors, the safety unit monitors all relevant factors in a minute fraction of a second: how large is the angle of turn, how heavy the load, where is the current centre of gravity of the combined vehicle and load, how fast does the driver want to go, how high is the fork, is the truck going forwards or backwards? All these parameters – and many more – have to be constantly evaluated, because driving and load conditions change in milliseconds.

All of this had to be implemented as robustly and reliably as possible in the course of painstaking development work. The eyes of the product manager who told me all this began to sparkle as she reported on the challenges involved. There were endless trials with constant adjustments and improvements. She talked about it as if it were her baby. And somehow that is what it is too – you only have to hear Linde engineers explaining their technological achievements. This incredible attention to detail always fascinates me.

What can the Safety Pilot do?

Within certain limits, this active safety system will stop a truck and its load tipping over. That is what it is all about. The video below demonstrates that, because Linde has set up a real simulator at World of Material Handling that lets you test the system without risk.

WOMH 2016 - Linde Safety Pilot Simulator

The active version of the system does not only signal a potential danger and warn the driver via a monitor screen combined with an acoustic alarm. It also stops the driver increasing the speed too much. To be precise: it actively intervenes, reducing the speed if the driver moves the forklift into the danger zone. The response is similar when it comes to lifting height. Here, too, the maximum height is limited when the maximum load weight is reached. The following video shows what the system does as demonstrated in the simulator:

What else can the Safety Pilot do?

The driver receives access to various additional features that drivers at the fair have already told me they actually like using in practice. They include, for example, being able to set a maximum lifting height to ensure the roller shutter can enjoy a much longer life. Or there is the so-called picker function that displays the number of loading procedures carried out with all the weights added together. It’s an excellent method of checking against the cargo documents: “Have I unloaded 12 pallets from the truck with a total weight of 5 tonnes?”

The LSP monitor:

Linde Safety Monitor

As I learned, the operating unit of the Linde Safety Pilot is behind the joysticks of the Linde Load Control. Its operation is very straightforward. You simple turn the control and confirm – there’s nothing more to learn.

Linde Load Control

No guarantee of safety

For me, the Linde Safety Pilot is what ESP (electronic stability program) is in a car. It’s a technology that you basically hardly notice in everyday driving – like a quiet good fairy. It can’t guarantee absolute safety – the Linde Safety Pilot is powerless against wilful mischief or loads that stick out unevenly beyond the sides of the vehicle.

Close links at WOMH 2016

This morning, after the long Whitsun holiday weekend, Linde employees greeted me with smiling faces. Why were they so pleased on a postponed Monday morning? Of course, World of Material Handling 2016 is entering its second week, and lots of visitors are again expected. It’s certainly a fascinating event for all the employees too, not only for the visitors. The main reason why people here are all smiles, however, is an unexpected big order. How did it happen?

During the first week of the event a major customer was so bowled over by the new truck models that he ordered a large number of new vehicles on the spot, sealing the deal with a handshake! Naturally, the news soon spread. Orders like these not only give the team satisfaction; they also confirm they have the right product strategy. What is more, in my view, they are encouraged even more to make it a great World of Material Handling for their guests. And as far as I can judge, the first week of WOHM 2016 was a great success.

I also have to admit that I have now become closer to the people at Linde, although I had never had personal contact with the company before. I find it really wonderful to see the efforts a company and its employees are taking to give their best to the many visitors here in Offenbach and beyond.

Roadster – the forklift with excellent visibility

The new Roadster is definitely one of the highlights of World of Material Handling 2016. The truck was first presented as a prototype in 2014, but now the Roadster is available and can be tested by customers. What can we say about the Roadster? A great deal!

The idea

Let’s start with the concept. The idea was developed a few years ago in collaboration with customers whose drivers had explicitly asked for a larger field of view in their forklifts. Typically for Linde, the developers got down to work with customers and product managers to make this feedback a reality. The idea was compelling: What happens if we remove the A-pillar and fit a pane of safety glass or narrower supports in the roof? Wouldn’t that fulfil the customers’ wishes? When Linde took an early development model to a large customer’s depot, it didn’t take long for other local logistics firms to hear about it and soon they were lining up to go for a spin in the new Roadster. It was a smash hit! The drivers were so enthusiastic that it became obvious the development of this early design had to be completed. The way forward was clear.

The final product

Before the product was ready for the market it had to undergo numerous tests to satisfy Linde’s extremely high standards, especially when it comes to safety. That is no surprise really, since the red trucks are viewed as the Mercedes of industrial trucks, something which I have already heard several times from visitors at WoMH 2016.

Let’s take a look at the main features. Here we can see the normal view that a forklift driver has from inside a truck:

WOMH 2016 - Roadster

Especially looking upwards, the driver has a rather restricted field of view. The A-pillars also partially block the forward view on the left and the right. In certain situations this is a disadvantage – blind spots can conceal dangerous surprises.

Let’s now look at the contrasting view that presents itself to the driver of a Roadster:

WOMH 2016 - Der Roadster

You notice the difference immediately. The upward field of view is completely open due to the removal of the roof supports. The picture shows a pane of safety glass fitted in the roof instead of conventional wide roof supports (an optional extra). That offers a great advantage, as one experienced driver who visited the fair emphatically stressed: “Boy, that tops everything!”

Since the removal of the A-pillars also enlarges the lateral field of view, the driver can manoeuvre better and much more safely in certain situations. Incidentally, the above-mentioned driver revealed to me that he favoured a bulletproof glas not only in the roof, but also in the front. That is because the airflow severely affects drivers’ eyes after a few hours’ work. Accordingly, the front safety guard contributes not only to passive accident safety, but also generally to the situational driving safety of the driver and his environment.

Let’s see the driver’s view from inside by watching a video:

What does the Roadster look like from outside?

WOMH 2016 - Roadster

The Roadster is sold as E20 R – E35 R. Sales have already begun at World of Material Handling 2016.

The first week at World of Material Handling

The week has barely begun – and it’s already over. It was an eventful week with large numbers of visitors from Germany and abroad. Linde Material Handling enabled its guests to find out more about its entire product range, especially product innovations, to talk with experts, to get new ideas and, last but not least, to obtain guidance on the challenges of the future in the key topics of Automation, Individualisation, Power Systems and Connectivity.

Impressions

Click on one of the pictures to get the slideshow moving:

 

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Preview of Week 2

The World of Material Handling continues next week. I am already looking forward to investigating new products and services for the Daily Report. We will not only be taking a closer look at the Linde Safety Pilot and the new Roadster, but also at various connectivity solutions. I hope this provides a little foretaste of the topics you can expect next week.

Between now and then, dear readers, I hope you have a pleasant weekend.

International visitors at the Fredenhagenhalle

Yesterday was a day of many different dialects at WoMH 2016, because over 400 customers arrived from all parts of Germany. Today, on the other hand, was a day of many languages. The first international customer day at WoMH 2016 brought together guests from over twelve countries and four continents: including Italy, Turkey, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Brazil, Philippines, Egypt and South Africa.

The Linde Material Handling Works Council also gained a first impression of World of Material Handling 2016 and how the company wants to equip itself and ultimately its customers for the future.

Similar interest was certainly also shown by representatives of KION Group AG, Linde’s parent company, who visited the World of Material Handling with their most important shareholders after yesterday’s General Meeting. Kui Jiang, Vice Chairman of Weichai Holdings Group Co Ltd, Tan Xuguang, Chairman and CEO of Weichai Power Co Ltd, and Gordon Riske, KION CEO, took a closer look at the Perspectives areas with their delegation.

The largest single group currently touring the grounds consists of 75 Czech visitors with their account managers. Our country profile offers an interesting overview of the market in the Czech Republic, focusing especially on the logistics market and Linde Material Handling CZ.

Flag CZ  To the country profile: Czech Republic – a practical logistics consultant

Visitors from Czech Republic at the Linde WoMH

Trucks with wings

During a presentation, a Linde Material Handling employee put his hand on the door and announced: “This is our Lamborghini door.” Then he pushed the handle and the door swung upwards to open. This apparently unremarkable feature is called a safety door. It involves an ingenious idea that illustrates rather well how Linde proceeds when customers need a tailored solution. Theoretically speaking, you might think, doors are not very interesting. At most, perhaps, they might excite engineers. In practice, however, drivers can get very annoyed by forklift doors. In fact, what they like most is no doors at all, because they constantly have to get in and out of them. So what happened here? A door has become a bestseller.

No door is better

Who needs this door and why? I asked an expert, who was able to explain in detail how this development came about.

Not all customers need doors for their trucks, especially when their vehicles are mainly used indoors. As I already said, this is about drivers who frequently have to get out of their trucks and would therefore prefer no doors at all. That’s especially true of side-opening doors, which regularly make contact with stored goods or colleagues. In addition, space is something that’s always in short supply in any warehouse. Equally, however, some customers consider safety important, but don’t want to fork out lots of money to fit conventional door models. Cost, operability, safety. How can you best reconcile the different factors involved here? Linde wouldn’t be Linde if it simply shrugged its shoulders at a problem like this. I have already learned enough about Linde to know that it isn’t that kind of firm. After customers consulted Linde about their unresolved door problem – remember, we’re talking here about trucks that are used indoors – Linde took up the challenge.

The solution

Linde looked around the market and eventually found the Sauermann company, which offers a vertically opening door at a favourable price. After making a number of enhancements, which Linde Material Handling realised jointly with Sauermann, Linde had a model that perfectly balanced the three factors mentioned above. It’s quick and easy to open, light, stable and suitable for narrow warehouse aisles. A slightly modified contoured shape also makes it safe for taller employees and, when required, it can be opened sideways with an additional push of a button. Fitted with a proximity sensor for the closing door, the speed of the vehicle can be limited in the event of a fault. (Until a repair is completed, the vehicle can only be used with limited functionality.) The safety door is currently being sold exclusively for Linde E14 – E20 models, but will gradually be offered for other series. I asked different sales specialists whether the door has been well received. Opinions were all positive: “This door sells likes hotcakes!”

Let’s look at in detail. First, the closed driver door:

WOMH 2016 - Safety Doors

The door can be opened with an easy accessible opening mechanism:

WOMH 2016 - Safety Doors

The vertically opened door:

WOMH 2016 - Safety Doors

Here is a video of the safety door mechanism, which Linde developed in collaboration with Sauermann:

This optional feature will be available for all truck models in series E14 – E20 and H14 – H20 from the summer and for models H20 – H50 and E20 – E50 from the end of 2016.

The smart safety belt

You put your safety belt on to get precisely that: safety. There’s really not much more to say about it. In the course of practical operations, however, things can sometimes be a little different. It has been known for Max, for example, to go zooming around a corner at 20 km/h followed by his warehouse supervisor shouting: “What do you think you’re up to? Put that safety belt on!” When it comes down to it, it’s quite simple: wearing a safety belt is mandatory in Europe if you’re not driving inside a closed cabin. Many drivers ignore this rule – with a corresponding impact on the accident statistics. Not to mention how many insurance claims are paid and at whose expense.

The development of the Orange Belt

On the one hand, we have some careless drivers and, on the other, safety is not just an annoying obligation. How do we reconcile these? I asked various Linde experts to explain the history of the Orange Belt – that is the name of the company’s smart safety belt.

It soon became clear that a brighter colour was required to enable supervisors to immediately see whether their drivers are strapped in. That’s why orange replaced black. The next point is more interesting, because you should never underestimate human ingenuity or laziness. In collaboration with its customers, Linde developed a system that detects whether drivers have buckled up their belts. A vehicle can drive normally once the belt is locked. If it isn’t, it will only move at a maximum speed of 2 km/h.

The drivers soon worked out how to get around the annoying compulsory seat belt rule: they first buckled up the belt and then sat on it to fool the system. That eventually led to an enhanced version, which also represents the state of the art in belt technology. The driver first has to sit on the seat. This activates a pressure sensor. Green light? Not yet. After all, the driver might be pushing down on the seat with his hand. So he has to move the belt in such a way that it rolls a certain distance. A special sensor actually measures the movement of the belt. And only then – as the third step in the sequence – is the belt locked. So far no driver has been able to fool this belt system. Some try undoing the belt while driving, but they soon discover that the vehicle automatically brakes to the 2 km/h speed limit. No chance!

Incidentally, someone asked during a presentation whether it would not be better to completely stop the truck moving if its driver were not wearing the safety belt correctly. Linde has made a very important decision about that: “We never stop a vehicle!” There are actually safety reasons for that. Imagine a vehicle is standing in a danger zone and the driver has to move a truck out of the way immediately. Every second then counts. Moving a forklift by hand is impossible. That’s why a driver can start the vehicle and drive away at a maximum of 2 km/h – without wearing the safety belt.

WOMH 2016 - Orange Belt

This goes much further than the situation on public roads, as I know only too well because I also regularly test new cars. Not even the latest models have anything more than an irritating repetitive warning tone (intended as an educational measure for our own protection). To that extent we can describe Linde’s Orange Belt as the smartest safety belt there is. I personally have to admit I was impressed by the effort that has gone into this system. It is rather strange that some drivers feel that wearing seat belts is a tiresome obligation. I can still well remember a visit to the Allianz Research Centre in Ismaning. Various crash tests were carried out at low speeds. Even then a heavily built driver has absolutely no chance of preventing the upper part of his body suffering a very painful impact using muscle power alone.

Talking with dealers

Linde’s international sales and service team received very thorough and detailed training on the company’s latest developments and product innovations during the first two days of the World of Material Handling event. Members of the press were also invited to attend on those days. As far as I could see from my discussions with press colleagues, overall they were more than satisfied with the event and took lots of material and many impressions back with them to their editorial offices.

On day 3, the visitors’ list consisted of German dealers with their sales and service personnel. This was one of the largest groups expected at WoMH with over 500 people. For them, too, the agenda included a tight programme with lots of presentations and expert discussions.

Of course, I didn’t miss the chance to talk with dealers and service personnel. Who could tell me more than this group that comes into contact with customers on a daily basis. I had the opportunity to quiz people from all over Germany – from north to south and east to west. How are Linde products received? What problems are there? Where are the bottlenecks? How satisfied are the customers?

WOMH 2016 - Besucher

Initially, of course, the people I spoke to were a little sceptical about what I was up to. At first, the answers were rather stiff and superficial, if not downright cautious. But we then soon got to the heart of the matter.

Let me describe the discussion I had with a salesman from the Rhine-Main region on the subject of Connectivity. I asked him whether the topic of networking and digitalisation was already being addressed by customers beyond the usual group of large companies. The reply I received in the broadest Hessian dialect rather surprised me: “No, customers are the ones urging Linde on. They can’t get enough! Customers have understood how important the whole thing is!” In other words, customers expect Linde to offer an increasing variety of solutions based on networked systems. “Of course, there are also customers that don’t need it; for example, if they only need to drive a roll of carpet from A to B once a day.” In other words, not all customers need or want a fleet management system. Nor do they all need to have precise details about the state of their vehicles. As someone who comes from the IT world, I know it’s a good sign when users do not reject a system on principle, but actually ask for enhancements when they need them for operational reasons.

Other discussions centred on new Power Systems – above all, on the still relatively new lithium-ion technology that is now really beginning to take off. While the car industry seems to be having problems with this, alternative drive technologies have long since found a place in the world of logistics, especially wet-cell batteries. Two dealers, one from Bavaria and one Baden-Württemberg, engaged in some playful banter in their respective dialects (unfortunately, some of the fun gets lost in English translation).
“The new lithium-ion solution is just the thing for my customers. They’re driving around with lead-acid batteries and are literally waiting to change.”
“I have exactly the same. Of course, they’re not immediately changing over, because the old forklifts are still running well. But some of them are already seriously thinking about it, because having to change batteries is no fun and wastes space.”
“Yes, exactly. I know customers who send their employees to the warehouse to change them at the weekend.”
“But upgrading is definitely also a question of cost. Lithium forklifts are a bit more expensive to buy, but that soon pays for itself. When you add it all up – the handling, the time saving – it’s a really good investment.”
“That’s right. Linde has done the right thing at the right time. Are you hungry? Let’s go and have something to eat!”

And off went the two dealers, they’d completely forgotten about me.

I kept hearing conversations like this. The dealers were in good spirits and expected Linde to offer the right mix of products and services. As a reporter you like to hear critical opinions now and again, but I heard nothing fundamentally critical at all. The picture is rather different in other industries: you only have to go to a meeting of car dealers to hear very different tones.

Four megatrends in intralogistics

World of Material Handling 2016 got off to a successful start and is now offering an expected 6,000 visitors from all over the world an abundance of information about the latest challenges in intralogistics. Linde Material Handling has recognised four major trends here – Automation, Connectivity, Individualisation and Power Systems – which will be presented in detail during the fair under the motto “linked perspectives”. How did Linde discover them? The answer is almost too simple to be true: close customer relations!

Close customer relations – an empty phrase?

I’ve really noticed it in all my discussions with the employees I’ve met so far during the event. They fill the idea of close customer relations with life in a way I’ve never experienced before with other firms. Many companies make pronouncements about their closeness to customers in their brochures, but how many of them actually live this idea? If all firms were like that, there would be far fewer bad products and less poor service. Without close customer relations, a company cannot realise good products or keep up with the times and its customers. It is therefore no coincidence that I have heard more than once in discussions with visitors that “Linde is the authority when it comes to forklifts!” This should be understood as an honour, an acknowledgement of the attention to detail and high quality standards shown in realising products and services. People abroad probably describe this as “made in Germany”.

Andreas Krinninger on close customer relations

Andreas Krinninger (CEO Linde Material Handling) explicitly acknowledged these close customer relations when he welcomed a large number of visitors with the words: “Supporting our customers in optimising their material handling performance is our key priority! Our target is to be the company that best understands our customers’ material handling challenges and performance improvement opportunities.”

He said the following about the four trends – Automation, Connectivity, Individualisation and Power Systems: “These four trends suggest a high growth momentum for the intralogistics sector. The four trends will largely determine the further development of our offering. We need a broad-based approach to help our customers optimise their ever more complex process chains.”

What do the four trends mean in concrete terms?

Christophe Lautray, Linde Material Handling’s Chief Sales Officer, outlined them in greater detail for visitors. Let us sum up what he said here:

Visitors at linde womh 2016

Connectivity

The key to increasing efficiency is no longer only the vehicle itself, but its integration in processes. Based on an increasing number of sensors and communication systems, the world of intralogistics is increasingly becoming an interconnected operations system. You could even regard it as a kind of operating system. No matter which machine is being operated or which software is being used, the operating system ensures all the components are connected.

Automation

The steadily growing range of autonomous industrial trucks capable of driving and lifting without an operator is accompanied by a clear paradigm shift: the boundaries between manual and fully automatic operation are becoming increasingly fuzzy. What’s more, the concept of the “smart factory” already indicates where things are heading. Automated vehicles communicate not only with WMS and ERP systems, but also with other devices, roller conveyors and gates as well as machines and equipment.

Power Systems

Ultimately, dwindling resources, stricter emissions regulations and higher sustainability and efficiency standards are leading to the introduction of alternative power systems. Today, customers like BMW are already relying on vehicles powered by fuel cells or lithium-ion batteries to put the principle of sustainability into practice throughout the production process. More and more customers are asking about alternatives to lead-acid batteries. A significant proportion of vehicles will use lithium-ion technology in the foreseeable future.

Individualisation

The growing e-commerce market is resulting in a steady decrease in batch sizes while simultaneously bringing about a fundamental change in the requirements for order picking and product handling. As a result, there is increasing demand for larger numbers of models, options and custom manufactured products to be able to keep up with competitors while simultaneously increasing efficiency, improving safety and reducing costs.

What comes next?

So now we know the four major trends. But what do they mean in practice? So much for the theory. Next, during the event, I will illustrate all four areas with practical examples and applications, and also interview fair visitors – customers, experts and partners – to make this as lively and concrete as possible.

Why analogue machines will eventually only be found in museums

When it comes to the four key topics of Automation, Individualisation, Power Systems and Connectivity, it is especially the latter that holds enormous potential when we consider an increasingly networked world in the near and distant future. One day in museums we will be able to look back nostalgically at the world of analogue machines without sensors or communication systems.

The future belongs to machines that are networked together and can communicate with humans and IT systems in real time through the cloud. This amounts to nothing less than a revolutionary transformation of the entire supply chain.

Linde is playing a leading role in this change with a variety of different solutions. Let’s take a look at the potential and the advantages that digitalisation and networking offer for everyday operations, which are being presented here at WoMH in a clear and understandable way: safety can be improved using an app, digital access control or driver assistance systems and you can realise more efficient maintenance cycles using connect: fleet management, Linde MyLife or the Service Manager app. There must be thousands of possible applications for the new indoor location system presented here by Linde Connected Solutions that can track the position of vehicles inside buildings with centimetre accuracy. Or there is Linde Safety Pilot, which is now also available for IC trucks, including diesel and gas forklifts.

I could have talked with the experts for hours. This subject offers exciting opportunities, which it is interesting to discover and understand. And I will continue to keep asking the specialists questions so I can write in detail about individual aspects of connectivity in this Daily Report. It is well worth visiting the Linde Connected Solutions website, where you can discover how the Linde connect: fleet management system works in practice at the headquarters of ceramics manufacturer Villeroy & Boch.

Visitors at linde womh 2016

The other key topics are: Automation, Individualisation and Power Systems.

An abundance of possibilities

With roughly 85 different models of industrial truck and 6,000 equipment options, Linde Material Handling’s standard range already offers an abundance of solutions to meet every customer’s conceivable needs. In the section on Individualisation, experts introduce the subject and present an incredibly diverse range of options. Visitors also discover that over half of Linde vehicles are equipped with highly specialised solutions. Linde achieves this by using a variety of partner products to configure the complete system precisely according to the customer’s wishes.

Let’s look at a few examples of retrofit solutions for existing vehicles: Have the legal requirements changed? Then equip vehicles with Orange Belt. Do you need improved control in traffic flows? Then implement Linde Speed Assist. Would you like to avoid damage and simultaneously improve availability? Then connect:ac, the retrofit kit for access control, is the perfect solution, ensuring not only that operators drive more carefully, but also that equipment and warehouse fittings are taken better care of.

Another highlight is also shown in the Individualisation section: the new Roadster boasts a significantly improved field of view as a result of the removal of A-pillars. As I learned, this is only possible because of the overhead tilt cylinder exclusively found on Linde forklifts. I was able to experience for myself the very tangible advantage of the new Roadster on the outdoor demonstration area. Simply get in and be amazed!

WOMH 2016 - Linde Roadster

The other key topics are: Automation, Connectivity and Power Systems.

Fascinating display of automated solutions

Automation, Individualisation, Power Systems and Connectivity are the key topics being presented at World of Material Handling 2016. The Automation section includes an extremely interesting demonstration facility that shows visitors a fully automated solution in operation. Here you will find amazed visitors following the movements of a new K-MATIC high-rack forklift as it performs a high-precision ballet routine with a P-MATIC tractor and an L-MATIC AC counterbalanced high-lift truck. It’s a real spectacle, one you shouldn’t miss. Here is a very short time-lapse description:

The K-MATIC high-rack forklift takes a pallet out of a bay at the demonstration facility and carries it to the handover point. The L-MATIC high-lift truck has already received instructions and takes the pallet before putting it down on a roller conveyor. There the P-MATIC tractor is waiting for the pallet, which is then transported to another rack. In another circuit, you can also see how the P-MATIC drives the pallet directly to the waiting L-MATIC high-lift truck that then takes the goods. All this happens without any human intervention.

This demonstration enables us to understand how Linde Material Handling’s different approaches work hand in hand – a real case of linked perspectives. Networking technologies combine control systems, sensors, navigation systems and communication with inventory systems. Automation technology unites the two worlds of networking and product solutions.

However, the possibilities for this kind of interaction are not only limited to fully automated solutions. Linde is also facilitating mixed solutions with manually operated vehicles. All the models in the MATIC range are equipped with appropriate sensors not only to ensure precise handling of material flows, but also to preserve the safety of humans and products.

Fascinating is the right word for this demonstration plant!

WOMH 2016 - Automation Workshop

The other key topics are: IndividualisationConnectivity and Power Systems.

The potential of modern drive technologies

Under the motto “linked perspectives”, the World of Material Handling is focusing on the related key topics: Automation, Individualisation, Connectivity and Power Systems. Each of these four areas is examined in detail in the exhibition, in workshops and in product presentations. Here we outline in brief the individual topics you can expect to be covered.

The forward-looking Power Systems section focuses on questions relating to lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells. Visitors can learn more about the potential and advantages of these modern, sustainable propulsion technologies, which will experience a substantial increase in use over coming years. It is therefore all the more important to find out about them as early as possible.

In addition, information is provided about possible options for battery capacities and a comparative frame of reference is presented for lead-acid batteries. Charge management and charging times are discussed, as well as important safety aspects. Linde’s very high safety standards are clearly demonstrated in an impressive crash-test video. You can discover how the battery management system communicates with the vehicle and what special advantages this offers when charge levels are low.

Of course, before and after workshops visitors receive the opportunity to ask experts detailed questions to find out more about specific issues that interest them. In following Daily Report articles we will take a closer look at individual products and innovations as well as fundamental questions.

Visitors at linde womh 2016

Other workshops on key topics cover: IndividualisationAutomation and Connectivity.

Perfect weather for the opening of World of Material Handling 2016

The heavens are favouring Linde Material Handling – visitors from Germany and abroad were greeted by brilliant sunshine at the opening of the World of Material Handling 2016. With omens like these, nothing can now go wrong!

WOMH 2016 - H160

A large number of visitors experienced the varied and colourful programme for the opening of the customer event. Up to 6,000 visitors from all over the world are expected to inform themselves about the latest products and services before the fair ends on 25 May. Unlike at a normal trade fair, visitors here have lots of time to talk to Linde experts and ask them questions about intralogistics to their hearts’ content. There are ample reasons for that because the world of logistics is changing faster and faster. Customers expect more flexible, more efficient and more sophisticated offerings.

WOMH 2016 - our guests

But that’s just the theory. In order to make this experience as lively and practical as possible Linde Material Handling has set up several areas for visitors focusing on different themes and topics such as automation, individualisation, connectivity and power systems. Powerpoint presentations have been kept to a minimum. The focus is firmly on practical applications, demonstrations in real time and expertise. Everybody has the opportunity to drive various industrial trucks and to see everything close up and personal. Everybody who wants to find out more about where things are heading and get a feeling for the future challenges in intralogistics will find answers at the World of Material Handling.

WOMH 2016 - Energy Area

That is something I can confirm personally. This event offers countless impressions. The pushing and shoving, stuffy halls and booming music that usually confront you at trade fairs are nowhere to be found here. I cannot imagine visitors going back home disappointed. At least the faces of today’s visitors looked very satisfied to me.

By the way, if you would like to find out how today’s racing professionals learned their trade, you can put your foot down on a kart track that was especially set up for the event. There you can see something rather special: karts equipped with electric motors. You already knew that? Well, that’s not all! The karts by CRG – the market leader in racing karts – are actually equipped with a drive system based on Linde Material Handling technology that the company specially adapted and made available to CRG (incidentally, the fleet management system is also from Linde). What is more, the first Linde e-kart achieved a record-breaking acceleration of 0 to 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds! That takes some time to sink in. Who would have thought that the drive unit used in forklift trucks could make a kart accelerate as fast as a racing car?

CRG Kart

I would like to express a very cordial and personal hello. Until May 25 I will be writing objectively and in depth about the hot topics of the World of Material Handling in this Daily Report. I hope this will enable those of you who are unable to attend in person to experience the fascination of modern intralogistic solutions.

Here are a few more of the day’s impressions:

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Images.: Andreas Reiter / Robert Basic

Robert Basic

Robert Basic

Robert Basic has a degree in business administration and worked for seven years at Deutsche Bank as an IT project manager. In 2003 he fulfilled his dream and became an independent blogger, consultant and event concepter. His passion are people, driven by his curiosity. Curiosity for future technologies, gadgets that improve our lifes, economic relationships, the development of the internet from „Web 2.0“ to the internet of things and „Industry 4.0“, socially- technically driven changes, changes in the working environment and forthcoming innovations, this are the topics that drive him and he is reporting about since almost 15 years now. On his networks and blogs 36,000 readers follow him. Picture: Sandra Schink

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