KION Group To Develop and Produce Its Own Fuel Cell Systems

The hydrogen propulsion options offered by KION Group are growing. For its industrial trucks, the worldwide intralogistics firm will soon design and manufacture its own fuel cell systems.

With this technology, the company will invest more than €11 million. In the spring of 2023, The KION Group intends to introduce its own 24 V fuel cell technology for warehousing equipment to the market. The fuel cell portfolio should be finished in the upcoming years. The forklift, the fuel cells, and the corresponding service will all be available from a single source under the KION brands in the near future.

According to Rob Smith, CEO of the KION GROUP AG, “as of today, the KION Group will be the only manufacturer of forklifts and warehouse equipment in the European market to produce its own fuel cells. This genuinely sets us apart.” There is a lot of demand from our clients, and we’re hoping that this technology will enable us to meet those expectations while also enabling intralogistics to become more resource-conscious and sustainable.

This year, the firm intends to install its own fuel cell systems in the first forklift trucks

There are many benefits to fuel cell technology. The energy system is perfect for use in warehouses because it produces no emissions when in use. It is climate neutral if the hydrogen also originates from renewable resources, such as biogas or electrolysis using solar or wind energy. When stopping at a hydrogen filling station to refuel, another benefit of the energy system becomes apparent: The tank can be fully refilled in just one to three minutes. This reduces disruptions and increases forklift availability, which is extremely advantageous for operations involving many shifts and big fleets. Another benefit is that they don’t contain any harmful contaminants or hazardous acids, which is great for both daily use and recycling. For instance, this makes the fuel-cell motor an appealing substitute for a lead-acid battery, especially in areas where hygiene is important, like the pharmaceutical and food sectors.

Production of Hydrogen at the Aschaffenburg Site

The Group is installing its own hydrogen production at its Aschaffenburg location in addition to developing and manufacturing fuel cell systems. A state-funded hydrogen filling station with an electrolyzer is nearly finished with construction. The majority of the forklifts with combustion engines that are now in use at the site will be replaced by 21 hybrid fuel cell systems once the building of the hydrogen infrastructure is finished.

Experience With This Energy Source for Decades

The KION Group brands were the first to embrace the notion that intralogistics might greatly benefit from hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Since 1997, KION subsidiary Linde Material Handling GmbH (Linde MH) has been putting a lot of effort into developing this multifaceted technology, and in 2010, Linde MH started producing its first trucks equipped with it in large quantities. Today, Linde MH has one of the broadest selections of industrial trucks with fuel cell drives available. This cutting-edge drive technology is available on about 80% of all types, including counterbalanced trucks, tractors or reach trucks, and pallet trucks.

The technology has also long been a staple of the product line of KION subsidiary STILL GmbH. Since 2003, the company has been regularly implementing hydrogen projects for various truck kinds for its customers. A client in France, STILL is now running one of the biggest fleets of hydrogen-powered forklift trucks in Europe. Hydrogentle GmbH and STILL, a KION subsidiary, have joined forces to provide greater guidance and assistance to their clients on all things fuel cell technology. With this partnership, special plant engineering projects will be planned, feasibility studies will be created, and customers will receive advice on hydrogen infrastructure from the outset of discussions all the way up to the supply of a fully functional hydrogen infrastructure for filling industrial trucks.

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