Linde sells 10,000-plus unmanned forklifts worldwide amid surging demand

As new scenarios keep popping up in warehousing and logistics segment, companies like Linde are hammering out new innovations to meet emerging customer needs.

Linde (林德), a legacy forklift manufacturer, today announced that the sales of its autonomous forklifts crossed the milestone of 10,000 units worldwide.

The sales were generated by more than 1,000 projects, the company added.

As an important category under AMR, unmanned forklift has been growing rapidly over the past few years.

GGII, a robot and automation-focused information portal, said that unmanned forklift sales at home grew from 750 units in 2017 to 11,315 in 2022, at a CAGR of 72%.

Sales volume is forecast to exceed 20,000 units in 2023, up 80% year on year, GGII said.

The domestic market size also jumped fivefold from 415 million yuan (US$58.22 million) in 2017 to 2.26 billion yuan in 2022, its data shows.

However, the market has experienced some hiccups due to the coronavirus headwinds, a slowing global economy and a contrast between product performances and customer expectations.

Mixed customer experience

According to Gao Zhongyin, a senior manager with the AMR and indoor logistics unit of Linde, driverless forklift witnessed breakneck growth in the past few years.

Somehow, customer feedback was mixed, partly because the industry “overpromised but underdelivered.”

Customers increasingly demand more on product reliability, technological practicality and long-term guarantee, said Gao.

“The era of using gimmicks centered on technologies or low-cost promotion to win deals is history,” he noted. “More and more clients are concerned about real application and follow-up operational support.”

Founded in 1993 in Xiamen, a coastal city in eastern China’s Fujian Province, Linde has continuously invested into the AMR business for years.

As a subsidiary of Kion Group, a leading supplier of warehouse equipment and supply chain management solutions, the company has set up R&D centers in Belgium, the United States and Australia.

New demand to meet

As new scenarios keep popping up in warehousing and logistics segment, companies like Linde are hammering out new innovations to meet emerging customer needs.

For instance, the company debuted last year a pallet retrieval and moving robot called L-MATIC 12C. With a payload of 1.2 tons, it can lift objects to a height of 2.3m. Its applications include line/auxiliary logistics and storage.

For storage on high shelves, Linde also rolled out an autonomous forklift with a maximum fork height of 9m.

According to Gao, the AMR unit manager, high payload and fork height are a coveted capacity in the forklift industry, with stringent requirements on automation and vehicle control.

He said the fork height of the firm’s products could reach up to 14m.

In addition to forklift, Linde also has ventured into automated guided vehicle production, with a line-up consisting of a pallet robotic carrier, self-balancing heavy-duty forklift and reach truck.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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