Making More from Less

Linde MH uses a clever platform concept for forklift truck production featuring mixed assembly, where internal combustion engines and electric drives roll off the same assembly line – and include some of the same components. Every part less means more sustainability. That’s why, for years, Linde MH has been working on ways to systematically reduce the number of parts it uses. Changes like this may go unnoticed at first glance, but they have positive impacts on both practical aspects as well as the environment. There are now countless examples of where Linde MH applies this approach, starting small with a special screw and continuing all the way up to a uniform control unit connected to digital applications and beyond.

One for (Virtually) All

The new patented screw with washer assembly developed by Linde MH together with a screw specialist is available with outer diameters ranging from M5 to M12, with thin and thick washers, and in standardized lengths. It took several months to hone its design before it was introduced in 2020. “We pretty much began by removing all the screws from development and then agreed on a modular system and defined the requirements for a universally applicable range of screws,” explains Björn Walter, Senior Product Manager Counterbalance Trucks at Linde.

The result is the new screw with washer assembly:

  • with a hexagonal profile on the outside (for customer service)
  • with a Torx profile on the inside (for production)
  • with an insertion tip (for quick threading)
  • with a captive washer for the screw and nut (that saves three seconds during each processing step and therefore also saves effort)
  • with a friction coefficient window independent of the component surface (the screw can be tightened with the same torque on different surfaces without causing damage)

In practice, these benefits mean that the screws can be used in a wide range of areas and up to 40 percent fewer different screws are needed in the new generations of vehicles. By 2025, 90 percent of all forklift trucks will have been switched over to the new screw type. This will result in lower logistics costs and fewer parts being transported as well as a significantly smaller range of spare parts in the more than 8,500 service vehicles on the road throughout Europe, thus reducing CO₂ emissions.

Of course, the screw with washer assembly is only a small yet mighty example of the many constructive measures for intelligent platform concepts that Linde MH is pursuing. According to Björn Walter, these concepts will continue to make production simpler in the long term: “Today, with the new series we can produce many more different trucks with 20 to 25 percent fewer parts.”

Ready for the Digital Twin

Since 2020, all the latest generation of forklift trucks feature the same small, inconspicuous black boxes. These control units ensure that Linde MH trucks harness all the powers of the digital world to boost their sustainability. Thanks to being fully connected, all new 12XX forklift trucks have a digital twin in the virtual world. This digital replica of the forklift truck provides accurate data on hardware, software, location, usage, and the truck’s condition. This allows software to be updated “over the air” and features and services to be enabled at a later date as well as predictive maintenance and, from 2024, remote diagnosis.

One result of this digital connection is already paying off with long-term benefits, as the all-important first-time fix rate, i.e. the rate at which trucks function perfectly again after just one service technician visit, is over 90 percent for the new trucks.