Case Study

Linde Material Handling: Innovation for Aftersales

A feature shop for the digital truck, where the e-commerce platform can gather information on the activation status of truck features modelled in the Digital Twin.

Various features for forklift trucks

Industrial forklift trucks are complex vehicles that are configured to fit the demands of the customers they are sold to. In addition to the standard equipment, each model is delivered with optional additional features. These include hardware features, such as different load fork variants and rotating driver’s workstations as well as software features, such as limiting the speed via a switch.

Over the lifespan of a truck, which is an average of eleven years, customer requirements can however change as new challenges arise. Additionally, over their lifecycle, trucks can also be rented to several customers, each with their own needs. This is when new software features need to be installed on trucks after they have been sold.

IOT for aftersales

A new generation of trucks

Linde Material Handling, a KION Group company, a globally operating manufacturer of forklift trucks and warehouse trucks, and a solutions and service provider for intralogistics, has brought a new generation of trucks to the market which is fully digitalized. The truck has a direct, wireless connection to the internet, mapping the truck functionalities in the cloud and making a “Digital Twin” possible. A growing number of truck features can therefore be activated by changing the technical parameters of the real truck through its digital twin.
This project which was created with the support of Concept Reply opens the possibility of new business models – automating the customization process as an aftersales service for customers is one of them.

Shopping via digital twin data

To start the new business, Linde Material Handling has launched an eCommerce portal for its sales network partners. The idea: in the shop, network partners can generate offers for their customers based on the available features and then immediately proceed to purchase them by the click of a button. The e-commerce platform can gather information on the activation status of truck features modelled in the Digital Twin. This way, network partners can see every truck in the fleets of their customers including the features which are activated and can be purchased.

Agile Project Management

When an order is triggered, the e-commerce platform communicates with the backend systems of the Linde Material Handling digital platform. This creates a so-called desired state which describes the changes to be applied to the truck software. Concept Reply supports Linde in this digitalization initiative by helping connect the trucks to the cloud and managing the data in the Digital Twin as well as connecting it to the e-commerce portal.

The services which Concept Reply provides range from technical consulting to frontend and backend implementation. At the same time, Concept Reply is responsible for the cross-team coordination and for the methodic implementation of agile product development. The consultants support the requirement engineering process and optimize the collaboration between business stakeholders, UI/UX designers, developers and testers.

The future: feature trials and subscription models

With Concept Reply’s help, additional functionalities are developed. Customers can easily see features which for example have not been available at the time of production and request them to be installed. This opens new business possibilities, enabling Linde Material Handling to generate new revenues as well as gaining competitive advantage by driving innovation. Soon, customers will also be able to test truck features offered in the shop through free trials or activate them for a limited time through a subscription. Ultimately, the scenarios enabled by the Internet of Things allow Linde Material Handling to take a huge leap into the future, bringing the offering of a traditional sector to the forefront of innovation.

Linde Material Handling GmbH, a KION Group company, is a globally operating manufacturer of forklift trucks and warehouse trucks, and a solutions and service provider for intralogistics. With a sales and service network that spans more than 100 countries, the company is represented in all major regions around the world.

Concept Reply is an IoT software developer specialised in the research, development and validation of innovative solutions and supports its customers from the automotive, manufacturing and smart infrastructure industry as well as other sectors in all questions relating to the Internet of Thing (IoT) and cloud computing. The goal is to provide end-to-end solutions along the entire value added chain: from the definition of an IoT strategy, testing and quality assurance to implementing a specific solution.