Linde Material Handling invests roundly EUR 21 million in the heavy truck division
By creating an independent business unit, Linde Material Handling aims to boost its heavy truck business and occupy a stronger position in the global market.
This was underlined by Theodor Maurer, Chief Sales Officer (CSO) at Linde Material Handling GmbH, and Roland Hartwig, Managing Director of the Linde Heavy Truck Division, during an event at the Merthyr Tydfil production site in the UK. In order to achieve this goal, Linde Material Handling will invest a total of roundly EUR 21 million in new product development and production facilities over the next three years.
The market is booming and customers are demanding tailor-made solutions
The decision to expand the scope of the business is justified by many years of consistently strong demand for port handling technology and the continued favourable prognoses for global container traffic and the container handling business. The Linde Heavy Truck Division is determined to take full advantage of the major growth opportunities this presents. Theodor Maurer said: "In the past 14 years, the number of containers being transported has quadrupled. We believe that over the coming years container transport will undergo further significant growth." He went on to say that the principle drivers behind these trends will be international supply relationships, relocation of production to low-wage countries, an increase in global sourcing and global sales strategies. In his opinion, Asia will in the future continue to be the most dynamic region for global container handling.
New management at the Linde Heavy Truck Division
It is not just the considerable financial assets to be invested that demonstrate how seriously Linde is taking the expansion of the heavy truck business. At the Merthyr Tydfil site development, production, sales, marketing and service departments are cross-linked ideally. Managing Director of the Linde Heavy Truck Division is Roland Hartwig. Micheal Grbner has responsibility for production, while Michael Wuttke heads up development management. John Haden is responsible for sales, Mark Timothy presides over the marketing department and Davide Bertozzi is representing business development. The new division reports to Kerry McDonagh, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Linde Material Handling (UK).
The key strategic goals to be achieved by the powerful new unit are high levels of customer proximity and flexibility. Theodor Maurer, Chief Sales Officer of Linde MH, offers a simple explanation: "It is our customers who help us to grow. But they can only do so if we know their exact requirements, position ourselves to meet those requirements with our products and at the same time act with speed and agility in the local markets."
Modular product design
In order to be able to offer specific product solutions to meet the various customer demands and special requirements in this highly diversified market, the heavy trucks and container trucks will in the future be built on the basis of a modular design. This means that the individual components and modules are developed and produced independently of each other, before the relevant components are assembled to create the end product. For example, this means a chassis can be used in combination with different cabins and different cabin layouts. The benefit for customers of the modular design is that trucks can be adapted more quickly to meet the demands of new applications. Linde Material Handling is therefore able to shorten development times and reduce complexity of production. At the same time, this frees up additional production capacity which will be used to meet the ambitious growth targets. The plan is to supplement the product range over the next few years, starting with the production of the C90 empty container handler with a 9-tonne lifting capacity. This will be followed by other empty container handlers and new heavy forklift truck models with lifting capacities of 1837 tonnes, plus one with a 52-tonne lifting capacity. Reach Stackers with higher lifting capacities are also in the pipeline. The Linde Heavy Truck Division aims to have completed the entire product drive by the end of 2009. "We want to offer the full range of heavy forklift trucks in the market segments that matter to us," emphasises Mark Timothy, Head of Marketing at the Linde Heavy Truck Division. Kerry McDonagh is also looking to expand the sales and service departments: "We will need to appoint more regional sales managers and additional sales experts for the planned increase in market coverage. More service experts and spare-part availability of 95% should ensure immediate assistance when a truck requires maintenance."
In order to achieve these ambitious targets, Linde Material Handling will be investing EUR 21 million over the next three years, with almost 17 million going towards research and development and more than 4 million being spent on optimising production.
In 2007, the Linde Heavy Truck Division generated sales of EUR 173 million. More than 90% of the trucks produced in Merthyr Tydfil are exported. The Merthyr Tydfil site produces Reach Stacker, Container handlers, Heavy Diesel Forklift Trucks and Sideloaders.
In 1989, Linde AG acquired the British truck manufacturer Lansing, thereby expanding its product range to include empty and laden container handlers and sideloaders. Linde moved to the production site in Merthyr Tydfil in the year 2000, taking it over from the Korean industrial truck manufacturer Halla Ltd., which had set up the site in 1996. The site covers some 240,000 m and includes a production hall with an office wing that extends over almost 21,000 m. Previously, the heavy trucks and container handlers were built 24 km away in the Lansing Linde Ltd. plant in Blackwood, but there was no opportunity for expansion at that site.