Products and Solutions

Performance, efficiency, reliability, user-friendliness, and versatility: That’s what Linde MH solutions and services stand for, and that’s what customers trust in and are passionate about. Sustainability and the considerate use of resources have also long been part of the company’s brand promise. Because true efficiency must consider the total operating costs—and the most economical resource is still the one that’s never used. This principle is why Linde MH supports its customers with holistic solutions that help them save energy, reduce emissions, and optimize their environmental footprint.

Product Development

With uniform standards and global coordination of technical activities to shorten the development processes for more product variants, the KION Group’s development approach is designed for efficiency. Development projects, initiated by product management in the Operating Units according to customer need, are coordinated and pooled by the Group-wide R&D1 organization.

In 2020, the innovative Product Evolution Process (iPEP) was redesigned as part of the KION Product Development Optimization (KPDO) project to incorporate sustainability aspects even more firmly in product development, with corresponding targets and design specifications.

In the iPEP, the implementation of sustainability requirements at Linde MH is supported by life cycle management software that organizes and documents requirements and the achievement of targets.

While the iPEP’s focus in 2021 was on further detailing the product strategy, in 2022 attention turned to preparing further improvements in the product development process in order to strengthen product sustainability to an even greater degree. These improvements are set to be completed in 2023 and also include revising the guidelines used to test the sustainability criteria of products.

At Linde MH, the aim is to design products and solutions that are as environmentally friendly and energy-efficient as possible in order to offer customers solutions that are both resource-efficient and cost-efficient. This includes selecting materials that are as environmentally friendly as possible and ensuring easy reuse, repair, and refurbishment.

Agile methods are used throughout the process. This means that work results are available sooner and goals can be achieved earlier. A high degree of modularity helps to optimize the use of materials and has a positive impact on logistics, production, and service. Intelligent platform concepts are an important element of this approach. For example, the new generation of Linde MH counterbalanced forklift trucks requires fewer parts than its predecessor. This reduces logistics costs, increases efficiency, and, in the medium term, reduces the need for spare parts in the more than 8500 service vehicles in operation throughout Europe.

It is also important that the trucks offer maximum driving performance with minimum fuel consumption. All electric forklift trucks developed in the future will therefore be both lithium-ion and fuel cell capable. What’s more, with the development of the X models, an electric forklift truck is now available that can replace an internal combustion truck in almost any operation. These trucks also offer a significant reduction in CO2 emissions and require fewer parts than earlier models. As of the end of 2022, 87.5% of the products sold by Linde MH were already equipped with an electric drive.

Finalist in the German Sustainability Award Design 2023

In November 2022, the Linde MH X20–X35 electric forklift trucks were nominated for the final round by the jury of the German Sustainability Award Design 2023: The forklift trucks are as powerful and robust as conventional combustion engine models, but do not generate any climate-damaging CO2 emissions when powered with electricity from renewable energies. In addition, they are produced in a resource-efficient manner, avoid the use of composite materials, and are designed in a way that facilitates disassembly and recycling. After being used in the trucks, the lithium-ion battery systems can be reused as static storage batteries and then recycled. The trucks are even more sustainable because they are designed for a long service life and can be easily repaired thanks to the use of replaceable components.

Energy Management

One of the areas that Linde MH is working on to further improve product efficiency is the development of solutions for the networked control of chargers. The aim of these solutions is to avoid expensive load peaks and to efficiently control the load consumption of the individual chargers. In addition, data-based analysis software enables customers to make all energy consumption in the company transparent, identify potential savings, and purchase energy more cost-effectively based on consumption forecasts. For example, the charging times for the forklift fleet can be adapted to the availability of electricity from the plant’s own photovoltaic systems.

With data-supported consulting tools, Linde MH helps customers to find the ideal drive and energy system for their fleet so they can achieve their sustainability targets. Sales colleagues use the Linde Energy Manager, for instance, to record all criteria relevant to the selection of an energy system in collaboration with the customer. Based on this information, the software provides a percentage assessment of which energy solution—diesel, gas or biofuel, lead-acid battery, lithium-ion drive, or hydrogen fuel cell—is best suited to the customer’s operating conditions and aims in terms of cost and sustainability. Expertise and test data from various departments have been used in the development of the software and associated database.

Alternative Fuels and Drive Technologies

In 2022, the KION Group received approval to use hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) as a fuel in Linde MH internal combustion forklift trucks. Depending on the manufacturer, a large proportion of HVO diesel is produced from renewable raw materials. Customers who use diesel forklift trucks can now fill up with this more environmentally friendly alternative diesel fuel, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% compared to conventional diesel.

Energy-efficient lithium-ion batteries are available for the majority of Linde MH’s fleet. They offer decisive advantages over conventional lead-acid batteries, including faster charging times and higher charging efficiency as well as a service life that is three to four times longer and a much higher energy content. In addition, the energy efficiency of lithium-ion batteries is over 90%, which enables users to achieve energy savings of around 30% as well as significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to a conventional battery-charger combination.


At the customer’s request, Linde MH offers the factory integration of fuel cells into its industrial trucks as well as the “fuel cell ready” option. The aim is to give customers an environmentally friendly energy alternative by offering forklift trucks with fuel cell technology. If hydrogen obtained from renewable energies is also used, the fleet then operates virtually emission-free and so makes an important contribution to greenhouse gas emission savings. Indeed, Linde MH already has one of the largest fuel cell fleets in use at the production site of a German automotive group.

Customers who want to purchase a hydrogen-powered forklift fleet are faced with an important decision, as in many cases the entire infrastructure needs to be built first. This requires technical specialists who support and advise the customer, carry out feasibility studies, and handle project management all the way through to implementation. Linde MH works with appropriate partners to ensure that its customers get the best fuel cell solution. In addition, the company is currently developing 24-volt and 48-volt fuel cell systems under the name KION HyPower as part of a Group-wide project in Aschaffenburg.

Linde MH also set up a hydrogen infrastructure consisting of an electrolyzer, compressor, tank, and refueling system at the Aschaffenburg site in 2022. This infrastructure has been used to operate 21 fuel cell forklift trucks in the plant fleet since May 2023.

Refurbishment and Recycling

As well as producing its own lithium-ion batteries, Linde MH also pays special attention to refurbishment and recycling. After all, what happens to the batteries once the guaranteed charging cycles have been reached is a crucial issue for the future.

This is where Linde MH’s return guarantee comes in: The nearest network partner in the country concerned takes back the batteries, thus ensuring that Linde MH fulfills its legal obligation to do so. Linde MH lithium-ion batteries go through a life cycle process with the aim of taking full advantage of the extraordinary lifespan of this technology:

Step 1 = refurbishment: Thanks to lithium-ion batteries’ long lifespans, batteries in a certain state of health (SoH) can be cleaned, refurbished, and reused in a new or used truck. Depending on battery usage, this cycle can usually be repeated several times.

Step 2 = remanufacturing: If the used battery no longer meets the requirements for reuse in a forklift truck but is still functional, parts are repurposed for other operations (e.g., cell modules in stationary operations/reconditioned steel trays for new batteries).

Step 3 = recycling: Once a battery reaches the end of its life, it is disassembled into its composite parts and recycled according to the material. Cells and modules are recycled in a two-stage process and the resources they contain can be recovered.

Linde MH uses a well-established recycling loop for lead-acid batteries in which the manufacturers handle the recycling process.

For several years now, Linde MH has been offering attractive deals on rental and used trucks that reduce costs for the customer while at the same time conserving valuable primary resources. In the year under review, Linde MH gave a new lease of life to around 15,000 used trucks in the EMEA region, and so is already contributing to the development of a circular economy.

With the new “Approved Trucks” concept, Linde MH is replacing the previous “Plus,” “Super,” and “Ultra” levels with a single high standard of refurbishment. This means that only industrial trucks that have undergone a clearly defined process following the strictest guidelines will be supplied to customer companies. It is important to Linde MH that the used trucks, which are sourced either from the company’s own rental fleet or from leasing returns, have a blemish-free history.

The disposal of old forklift trucks is regulated by Directive 2000/53/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council. Linde MH therefore provides detailed information on the disposal of forklift trucks at approved recycling plants.

Life Cycle Assessments

Since 2013, reliable data from life cycle assessments prepared for representative products along the product life cycle has been available to customers who seek to evaluate and optimize their own environmental performance. The method used has been tested and certified by TÜV Rheinland.

In the life cycle assessments prepared by Linde MH for each product group—assuming that customers use a traditional energy mix—the use phase proves to be the main source of GHG emissions. The energy efficiency of the power units is therefore always a key focus, both for internal combustion engines and in the further development of powerful and efficient electric drive technologies.

The KION Group also strives to achieve significant savings in Scope 3 emissions, including in the design phase—particularly for products and solutions. The main levers for achieving this are energy efficiency and the choice of materials. This is also reflected in the KION plant standards.

Life cycle assessments are an effective tool for systematically integrating environmental aspects into the development process for new products and for making environmentally friendly improvements. They also ensure that the optimization of individual system components does not have a negative impact on the overall environmental performance. Armed with this knowledge, companies can make their products and processes more sustainable and thus make a positive contribution to the environment.

[1] In pursuing a cross-brand and cross-regional development approach, the KION Group is aiming to achieve uniform standards and global coordination of technical activities. Functions such as research and development, procurement, quality, and sustainability management have been bundled and are part of the KION GROUP AG Executive Board portfolio of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO).