Why one size doesn’t fit all

As more of the logistics industry becomes dependent on machines for primary operations, Linde has ensured that all customers, regardless of size, can take advantage of its materials handling solutions.

According to George Pappas, Senior Director Sales and Service at Linde, the logistics marketplace has significantly changed over his 16-year tenure with the business.

“The market place as it stands at the moment has really diverged from where it once was. Customers with a high dependency on machines are much more common now than they used to be,” he says.

Today’s warehouses need fewer operatives and rely largely on labour-reducing technology. Digital add-ons such as sensors, cameras, lasers and software commonly used to enable forklifts to perform more efficiently.

This shift towards a more machine-dependent operation has changed the workplace and its needs. “Expectations of performance and uptime were mostly driven out of the need to gain maximum productivity out of the workforce in the safest possible way.”

However, he says there is now an increased focus on a maximum return from an asset. “With Australia being a high-cost environment, it is really important that the maximum return is attained by the asset, primarily because of the amount of money being invested in the individual and the site.”

Power to choose

As the industry shifted towards a focus on technology and assets, Linde recognised a need to also develop a new kind of offering and launched its Power to Choose range in 2017.

“We have made a conscious decision to offer a clearly defined range of products. We know that one size simply doesn’t fit all,” George says.

Some businesses require equipment for low, medium or high-demand applications, and Linde has established a solution for all with its Power to Choose model. The offering is split into three different kinds of equipment solutions: Value, Performance and Performance Plus.

The Linde Value range is very much a fit for purpose range. It consists of quality equipment for situations when material handling equipment is not at the heart of a business’s activities, but when it must still be reliable.

“The value range gives fit for purpose technology that will fit into most fleets and provide organisations that don’t rely heavily on machines good value solutions. With this offering, we make sure that businesses don’t over invest in technology they simply won’t benefit from,” George explains.

A priority for Linde is to ensure that it offers credible services. KION, Linde’s parent group, has a mission statement to be the best at understanding its customers’ needs and to provide the right solutions. “This means engaging with the customer in a non-commercial manner in the first instance and recognising when Value is perfectly fine,” George says.

For Linde, its fit for purpose Value offering gives high performance and uptime in terms of reliability. Suited largely towards the customer who is only using an asset for one or two hours a week, it saves them from making additional investment on features that are not required.

The next offering is the Performance range. While this range does not compromise on safety or productivity, it is a stripped back version of the fully featured Performance Plus machine that, according to George, performs at the same level, or if not better, as Linde’s major competitors.

“We have very broad coverage in this range, we have everything from the electric forklift to some quite large Internal Combustion (IC) outdoor trucks. From an energy and productivity standpoint, these are great machines and offer great ergonomic and comfort for operators, due to the increased usage compared to the value range.

“The premium range, Performance Plus, is for when forklifts are being used 15 to 30 hours per week. This range can drive significant productivity increases. They don’t travel any faster, but each product in this range is fitted with advanced technology that allows the trucks to operate through their cycles significantly faster.”

Customers have been known to reach productivity benefits of up to 34 per cent for more complex operations and up to 18 per cent for more primary functions. The more complex the operation, the higher the productivity benefit gleaned.

Accessible solutions

Linde is a brand that people associate with quality and reliability, George says. “People see us as a leader of technology and quality. However, this has sometimes put customers who use less equipment off. We think with this new Power to Choose model, we demonstrate to the industry that we are not just for the larger operations, we have a quality product for all uses.”

For Linde, a large part of the sales process is consulting with the customer to work out a solution that works for them. “We say to our sales people and our partner developers that a high-performance machine is not always the right approach. Something with less of a capital investment can bring a much better financial return, George says.

Customers are encouraged to take a variety of solutions from the different ranges within the Power to Choose offering. “You might use some more machines extensively than others, in this case the operation may require a combination of Value and Performance Plus.”

George wants to ensure that customers realise that if they have Performance Plus in one area and only Performance in another that their operators will not be disadvantaged. “None of our offerings are compromised on standards and safety,” he adds.

At Linde, this flexibility has received great feedback from customers. “We didn’t realise customers would embrace this model quite as much as they have. We really pride ourselves on understanding our customers’ needs. With this model, we have seen that our customers can reduce energy costs, redeploy staff due to increased technology and significantly change the way that their operations work.”