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The only way is digital

23 September 2021

We are currently seeing a huge demand for digital innovation when it comes to automation in the warehouse and connected fleet management, says Kenny Watson.

THE LANDSCAPE of logistics has changed significantly in recent years. This has created a situation where retailers are more focused than ever on finding enhanced methods to boost the efficiency of the operational supply chain.

Home deliveries requires a lot of manpower, so many new, large e-commerce warehouses are absorbing a huge amount of traditional warehousing staff. At the same time, the labour market is becoming more turbulent for obvious reasons. Hence customers are more interested than ever in new technologies, especially when it comes to lower level tasks like order picking, where digital can ease the burden on staff.


It’s no secret that digitisation is set to change the world of intralogistics. One notable example is with connected fleet management technology. Fleet management allows a company’s forklift truck fleet to be controlled centrally. This mostly involves optimising the availability of individual forklift trucks and then coordinating the distances that are travelled. 

Modern forklift trucks can now continuously collect data for this purpose – providing real-time performance data which is analysed and can then be used to optimise complex warehouse and transport processes. Networking and advanced sensors allow these forklift trucks to act autonomously. This results in the fleet and fleet management becoming intelligent, and networking and real-time data access becoming increasingly important. It can also detect problems such as capacity bottlenecks at a much earlier stage.

The Linde connect fleet management system offers customers efficient fleet management.


As more and more companies have realised, automation can radically improve efficiency wherever there are repetitive tasks. For example, in areas such as very narrow aisles solutions. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) can run for 24 hours a day and remove the need for an operator – narrowing the margin for human error.

AGVs make warehouse operations far more streamlined by fulfilling simple transport from one point to the other at the press of a button. This can boost employee development and morale by removing workers from low-value and repetitive jobs, giving them more time to focus on higher-level tasks. 

It’s no secret that digitisation is set to change the world of intralogistics. One notable example is with connected fleet management technology.

With a massive rise in the demand for goods to person picking, we can expect to see more autonomous mobile robots too. Instead of someone going around the warehouse to pick the goods, these little units will travel around the warehouse where they will take goods to a central picking station where they can be collected by a member of the warehouse team. So, the product keeps coming to the person and they don’t need to move. 

But a change in mindset is necessary to get the most out of automation. Organisations need to be passionate about adopting the technology, and disciplined in their application of it, to make sure it works properly. You must embrace it, work with it and manage it to get the best from it. It’s important that employees buy into it too and see it for what it is – not a threat to their job security, but a handy tool to free them up from trivial tasks. 

Getting your forklift solutions right is key

With all of this in mind, it’s important to have a forklift solution that works for your operation and the challenges of the modern climate.  

Counterbalanced forklift trucks are a multi-usage intralogistics solution equipped to tackle a variety of challenges. Whether in e-commerce, just-in-sequence supply of production lines, or globally networked supply chains, the demands on goods and material flows are changing rapidly and becoming increasingly complex. For industrial trucks, flexibility and connectivity are the key to success - combined with productivity, safety and ergonomics.

At Linde Material Handling, we’re addressing these requirements head-on with our newly developed generation of counterbalanced forklift trucks. The new counterbalanced forklift trucks offer a unique combination of freedom of choice and future reliability. They are based on one innovative technological platform which is compatible with every type of energy system. 

The new Linde X20-X35 electric forklift models in the load capacity range from 2.0 to 3.5 tons are the first electric trucks to match the performance and robustness of Linde’s hydrostatic engine trucks, while offering the additional environmental benefits of battery-powered operation. They are capable of meeting performance standards beyond the limits of conventional electric trucks. These include, mastering steep gradients, consistently achieving high handling rates, and operating in very dusty and dirty conditions.  

More and more companies are turning to electric forklifts to make their intralogistics as sustainable and climate neutral as possible. These battery-powered vehicles don’t give off any emissions during operation or produce any harmful CO2 so long as the electricity is generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar or biomass. 

Final thoughts 

What we’re seeing increasingly is that global retailers will only look to team up with warehousing and distribution partners that can help them to meet the needs of the modern consumer - and adjust to the often unpredictable human labour market. So, there’s more pressure than ever for supply chains to become as efficient as possible. 

With cutting-edge technology such as connected fleet management and AGVs, companies can greatly strengthen their supply chain by investing in connected fleet management and AGVs. But it’s important to note that whatever the scale of your logistics operations, each supply chain solution is unique. It’s vital to find a solution that will allow your supply chain to be the best it can be. Big investment in these new technologies may be ideal for larger companies in the materials handling sector, but for smaller scale operations this may not be always be the case.

Kenny Watson, automation sales manager, Linde Material Handling

For more information, visit www.linde-mh.co.uk