German material handling giant Kion Group AG today reiterated its positive forecast for earnings growth in 2018 and said it plans to step up its use of digital technologies at customers' warehouses and in its corporate procedures.
Frankfurt-based Kion expects to ride a trend of overall market growth to capture increases in order intake, revenue, and earnings, executives said at the company's annual meeting. As a sign of their confidence, company leaders set the Kion stock dividend at $1.17 per share, an increase of 24 percent over the dividend per share paid last year, the company said.
In addition to positioning the firm to take advantage of an expanding market in its core sectors of industrial trucks, related services, and supply chain solutions, Kion plans to drive further growth by increasing its investment in digital technologies, Kion CEO Gordon Riske said in a statement.
"We are aligning our business to an increasingly digital world and developing our digitalization strategy," Riske said. "The digitalization of customer solutions, which will even include fully automated warehouses incorporating robotics solutions, will be accompanied by the digitalization of our internal processes."
Riske cited examples of Kion's digital product portfolio, including the Truck Call order assignment app from Linde Material Handling, the nexxtFleet industrial truck data-analysis system from STILL, and the iQ Sprocket maintenance management system from Dematic.
It has also created Kion IoT Systems GmbH, a unit of engineers and software developers tasked with developing innovative digital applications centered on the Internet of Things (IoT).
Kion's emphasis on digital initiatives is consistent with the "Kion 2027" business strategy announced in March, a package of actions including digital solutions and processes, energy efficiency, new energy systems, and automation solutions.