Linde is among the world’s leading manufacturers of warehouse equipment like forklifts, pallet trucks and other machines that make moving inventory and orders easier. They have a truly global presence, with operations in more than 100 countries and multiple regional branches. In 2006, Linde became 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 Willenbock, a specialized subsidiary of Linde, handles or sells about 2,700 custom forklifts a year. The customization takes the form of the addition of various attachments and enhancements that can better suit the forklifts to operate in a variety of industrial and warehousing workplaces. This process, together with other considerations related to safety and ergonomic issues, has helped to establish Linde Willenbrock as a key partner in improving overall efficiency among its clients.
However, the very nature of producing individually customized forklifts presents its own logistical and organizational challenges. Every order has its own unique specifications, with different parts, staff and processes involved. Furthermore, coordinating this production on the scale of Linde Willenbock’s operations—fifty fully-assembled forklifts a week—magnified any inefficiencies in the journey from start to finish.
Willenbrock began to encounter issues 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 transparent.
That’s when Linde Willenbrock turned to Simon AI.
With Simon AI – Kontakt.io’s Location IoT Analytics Platform application, insights into order statuses and item locations helped to transform Linde Willenbrock’s operations. Their initial estimates show that they’re now saving significant amounts of time when searching for items and parts but the real impact has been in the way that orders are 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. Everyone involved is notified of new orders, and the search & find application 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.
Kontakt.io’s Simon AI has tremendous potential to change our 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
Using Simon AI, Willenbrock can track the status of a 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.
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