Among the brand names associated with the tools and machines that help warehouses run smoothly, Linde is among the most recognized. As a manufacturer of forklifts, pallet trucks and other tools used for transporting inventory and processing orders, Linde has built a global presence, with operations in over 100 countries and several regional branches. Now part of the KION Group, the world’s second-largest manufacturer of industrial trucks and one of the leading suppliers of automation solutions for intralogistics, Linde has a deep understanding of the needs of the warehousing industry.
A subsidiary of Linde, called Willenbrock, specializes in selling and handling customized forklifts—around 2,700 a year—that are adapted to the requirements of different work environments. The customization involves the addition of various elements and attachments suited to the needs of warehousing and industrial workspaces.
The very nature of delivering individually customized forklifts, or any other machinery, presents its own logistical and organizational challenges. Unique orders mean unique specifications, each with different parts, staff and processes involved. At the scale of Linde Willenbrock’s operations—more than fifty fully-assembled custom forklifts a week—issues arising from such a fragmented process are magnified and inefficiencies can have real costs.
That’s exactly the lesson that Linde Willenbrock learned as they began to encounter problems related to operating under a paper-based system, where the entire order process was documented manually. Search times for parts and a lack of transparency into production and supply chains became an issue. Operational efficiency began to suffer and gains in throughput proved to be more difficult to achieve. Add to this the fact that Linde Willenbock’s work is spread over two facilities, in Hannover and Bremen, and the need to digitize workflows became evident.
“While we were collecting data online, our physical operations were still non-digitized and we weren’t making data-first decisions,” says Ulrike Meyer of Linde Willenbrock. “This lack of transparency in intralogistics, assembly and supply chain processes meant that we were losing money.”
Click here to watch our ‘From Discovery to ROI: Linde Willenbrock Case Study’ webinar >
Simon AI was just the solution Linde Willenbrock needed.
With digital tracking of physical processes, handled by Simon AI - Kontakt.io’s Location IoT Analytics Platform application, insights into order statuses and item locations helped to transform Willenbrock’s operations. Search times have been slashed as staff can now instantly locate the parts they need but the most impressive impact has focused around the way that orders are now processed.
Previously, the order processing team received the order and then informed the logistics team about the components that would be needed to fulfill it. Then, once the components arrived, the assembly process started with a worker going to find the forklift to be customized, which could take up to half an hour without real-time location capabilities. Instead, each forklift had to be checked and compared to the order form—maybe it was the first one checked, maybe the last. When the right forklift was found, it was time to repeat the process, only this time with the components needed for customization.
Now, with Simon AI, everything is monitored and tracked in real time. All stakeholders in the process are notified of new orders instantly, and the location feature directs workers straight to the forklift they need and the parts that will be added to it. No more searching through the entire inventory, looking for a particular piece, no more wasted time and no unnecessary delays in getting orders started.
I wasn’t very familiar with such solutions before this project, but after using Simon AI, I found it very intuitive to use and helpful for my job. It’s much better than old fashioned paper-based solutions. I can now create and track the orders from anywhere and quickly locate the items, which helps me speed up my work. It is exciting for us to get this new technology.
-- Daniel Luckyman, Team Lead Order Processing
Using Simon, Linde Willenbrock can track the status of any particular order, see what stage it’s in and what’s left to do and use the analytics to better understand workflows and identify issues before they have the potential to delay production. Dealing with various problems is part of any industrial or manufacturing process but now, with Simon AI, they can be dealt with and corrected at an early stage before they begin to create bottlenecks that threaten output and on-time delivery.
Kontakt.io’s Simon AI has tremendous potential to change our and our customer’s business operations. It’s having a direct impact on our costs and, even more importantly, it allows us to deliver the best possible customer service.
-- Ulrike Meyer, CIDO
Want to learn more about how Simon AI location analytics can improve your decision making and transform your industry? Contact us.