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MHE driving sustainable practices for green manufacturing

MHE driving sustainable practices for green manufacturing

June 9, 2023 2:48 pm

Nitin Babbar, VP of Sales at KION India, notes a noticeable trend towards eco-friendly and energy-efficient electric, battery-operated MHE solutions due to the surge in fuel costs and growing environmental consciousness.

How does your material handling equipment empower sustainability in the manufacturing unit?
First, I would like to mention a proud feather in the KION Group cap that we have recently achieved “Gold” accreditation in the EcoVadis – sustainability rating for 2023. Indeed, sustainability is not a buzzword, and it has become the utmost priority in nearly all industry segments; of-course MHE industry is also prioritising it, shaping a sustainable future. This imposes many MHE manufacturers to now focus on electric-powered equipment, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and minimising emissions. This transition reduces pollution and noise, creating a sustainable, eco-friendly work environment.

Our MHE contributes to sustainability in manufacturing and intralogistics through our multi-brand integrated offering under the brands OM, Linde, Baoli, and Dematic. Our extensive selection of Material Handling Equipment (MHE) solutions improves the management of logistics and supply chains, leading to the more efficient movement of goods, optimised routing, enhanced space utilisation, decreased fuel usage, reduced emissions, and overall improved effectiveness. These exceptional qualities and advantages can be achieved through our specially crafted assortment of forklifts, battery-operated pallets, tow trucks, and order pickers under the renowned OM and Linde brands. Our material handling equipment integrates energy efficiency, waste reduction, efficient space utilisation, enhanced logistics, and emissions control, enabling manufacturing units to embrace sustainability. This promotes a greener, more environmentally conscious approach to operations while maintaining the intended benefits.

Can you enumerate current practices at your facility offering cutting-edge from a manufacturing perspective?
KION India’s Factory 2.0 at Pune is India’s largest and most modern material handling equipment manufacturing unit which is wellprepared to cater to the long-term projected market growth. The factory has standard quality, and inspection infrastructure, with a PU paint shop and dedicated manufacturing lines for diesel, electric, and heavy-duty forklift and warehousing equipment. The lean manufacturing facility, supported by our global supply chain and a strong supplier base nearby, ensures quality supplies and entire customer satisfaction through our solutions and services.

The entire team at KION India is committed to continuous improvements in the standards and practices in place and with all upgrades in compliance with the market standards and customisations as per customer needs. Our R&D team in Pune is well-aligned with the worldwide R&D centres of KION Group, exchanging learning, best practices, and technology translating into product advancements.

With a better understanding of market demand and requirements of customers from different segments, KION India is engaged in upgrading the solutions, moreover contributing to optimising the intralogistics operations to be smarter, more efficient, and more profitable.


How does optimising MHE provide manufacturers with a competitive edge?
By observing closely, the optimisation of MHE effectively improves efficiency by streamlining processes, consequently reducing the labour and time needed for tasks. As a result, we can accelerate the production of goods, promptly meet customer demands, and enhance productivity in last-mile delivery. When prioritising proper handling and transportation of materials, we significantly mitigate the risk of damage or defects. This, in turn, ensures the maintenance of product quality, minimises rejections or returns, and ultimately boosts customer satisfaction.

Another advantage is the flexibility and adaptability of optimised MHE systems. They can accommodate changes in product size, weight, and handling requirements. We must recognise that optimised MHE solutions offer better safety features and compliance with industry regulations. Providing a safe working environment for our employees can prevent accidents, injuries, and costly legal liabilities.

Lastly, the advanced MHE systems incorporate data collection and analysis capabilities. This enables us to gather valuable insights into our operations. By leveraging this data, we can identify bottlenecks, optimise workflows, and make informed decisions to improve efficiency and productivity.

How do Industry 4.0 & 5.0 help fuel the transformation of material handling in manufacturing?
Certainly, Industry 4.0 and 5.0 technologies like digital twins, AI, ML, robotics, and AR are driving material handling transformation in Indian manufacturing at a steady speed.

For instance, Digital twins create virtual replicas of equipment and processes that help to optimise operations and improve efficiency. Also, technologies such as AI and ML analyse sensor data, provide insights, and optimise workflows, helping in predictive maintenance and effective resource allocation.

Apart from this, AGVs, robotic arms, and conveyor systems automate tasks that enhance efficiency freeing up human resources. Augmented Reality is a recent popular technology that overlays digital information onto the physical environment, offering real-time guidance, training, and troubleshooting. In addition, Real-time data collection and analysis enable data-driven decision-making, helping workflow optimisation in the manufacturing process.

Embracing these technologies leads to higher productivity, improved efficiency, enhanced safety, reduced costs, and increased competitiveness for Indian manufacturers. It keeps them innovative and aligned with global material handling standards.

How your range of solutions is impacting the transformation?
Today, MHE is driving industry transformation and revolutionising material handling with advanced technologies for enhanced efficiency, productivity, and safety.

With the rise in fuel costs and increasing environmental awareness, we are witnessing a shift towards non-pollutant, energy-efficient electric/battery-operated MHE solutions. After successfully launching CEV Stage IV competent IC counterbalance trucks, we are now upgrading with CEV Stage V – new pollution norms. We also introduced OM Plus+++ Series counterbalance forklifts (IC & E segment) loaded with features that ensure better productivity and meet a wide range of material handling job requirements regarding performance, serviceability, strength, safety, and life. The recently launched Linde Electric counterbalanced trucks deliver high efficiency & performance along with the option of Li-Ion battery solutions. The customer feedback on this truck is encouraging.

We also offer high-end Technology and IoT-based complete warehousing solutions under the Linde brand. These real-time IoT solutions comprise telematics, wireless communication and artificial intelligence. The new robotic solution, the most advanced solution, provides incredible competitiveness gains and unique customer flexibility.

We all agree that advanced safety features like collision avoidance systems, proximity sensors, and automated emergency braking help prevent accidents and injuries. Ergonomic designs and operator training programs also ensure worker comfort and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. Our OM and Linde MHE brands prioritise safety with high standards and advanced ergonomic features in forklift trucks and warehousing equipment. At KION India, we prioritise a customer-centric approach, developing customisable, efficient, cost-effective MHE solutions.

What are the major challenges you see in modernising manufacturing facilities?
True that modernising manufacturing facilities pose several challenges. The high upfront investment is a significant barrier, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. Another challenge is the integration and compatibility of different systems and technologies. This requires seamless communication, which can be complex and time-consuming. Also, the need for skilled labour to operate and maintain advanced technologies is a task for manufacturers.

While modernising manufacturing facilities brings numerous opportunities, challenges such as financial constraints, system integration, and skilled labour must be addressed to ensure successful implementation.

What is the impact of technology advancements on enhancing various aspects of material handling operations?
Today, technological advancements have greatly enhanced material handling equipment (MHE), boosting efficiency, productivity, and safety. The widely used tech development like Electric-powered MHE with lithium-ion batteries reduces emissions and expenses. Also, in recent times, AGVs and AMRs have been increasingly used for tasks like material transportation and sorting. For example, robotic arms and cobots enhance handling precision and speed. And modern connected MHE enables real-time data exchange, optimising operations and maintenance.

Furthermore, ML algorithms predict failures and optimise maintenance schedules, while AI controls and optimises handling processes. Additionally, sensors like laser scanners, RFID, and vision systems improve safety, navigation, and control. The latest AR technology reduces errors and downtime through visual instructions. And remote monitoring optimises asset use and efficiency.

Moreover, integration with management software such as WMS improves visibility across the supply chain. These advancements undoubtedly drive efficiency, productivity, safety, and operational excellence in material handling.

Which verticals do you see adopting these transformations as front runners?
E-commerce, retail, FMCG, Healthcare, and logistics are the rapidly growing verticles keen to adopt technological transformations and reap their benefits. For instance, in the e-commerce industry, technologies like electric MHE, AGVs, and robotic picking systems have revolutionised logistics, enabling efficient order processing. The automotive sector relies on MHE solutions, such as sensor-based equipment, to enhance operational efficiency.

Retail and FMCG sectors have transformed warehousing and distribution operations with electric forklifts and advanced equipment, ensuring faster inventory replenishment and accurate order processing. Manufacturing facilities have optimised processes with automated MHE and robotics, boosting efficiency. The logistics and supply chain industry has seen MHE adoption for improved warehouse operations, inventory management, and supply chain visibility. In healthcare, MHE systems like reach trucks and order pickers have enhanced supply chain efficiency and timely availability of critical resources. These industries have embraced MHE transformations for operational efficiency and adaptability, and other sectors are gradually following suit.

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