German logistics provider Kion Group AG is getting into the battery building business, announcing today that it has launched a joint venture with partner company BMZ Holding GmbH to manufacture lithium-ion batteries for industrial lift trucks.
The joint venture, known as Kion Battery Systems (KBS), is expected to employ some 150 workers by 2023, operating at a 43,000 square foot plant in Karlstein am Main, Germany, about 25 miles east of Frankfurt.
First announced in 2019, the strategic partnership’s objective is to extend the lithium-ion product range of the Kion Group's brand companies and to expand production capacity in order to meet the rapidly growing demand for lithium-ion battery systems in the intralogistics market, especially in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region.
With the factory’s production lines capable of manufacturing more than 12,000 batteries a year, the initiative will mainly serve heavy-duty and high-performance forklifts and other industrial trucks made by the Kion Group brand companies, the company said. "The new production facilities at KBS will allow us to meet the increasing demand for modern lithium-ion batteries and offer customers a highly reliable supply of products," Christian Hasenstab, joint managing director of the new venture, said in a release.
Kion is turning its attention to battery production in accordance with its “Kion 2027” strategy, which prioritizes innovation, automation, and energy efficiency as values that will support the increasing digitization of global logistics, the company said.
The reach that goal, Kion says its global research and development activities focus on drive technologies of the future, seeking to get top performance from the range of options in its current product catalog, including internal combustion engines, lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries, and fuel cells. Among those power sources, Kion says lithium-ion batteries offer a particular advantage for use in electric vehicles in contrast to traditional lead-acid batteries. Thanks to “huge advances” in lithium-ion technological development, those batteries do not require swapping since they support rapid charging and top-up charging, and they are suitable even for heavy-duty trucks that carry substantial loads.
Other material handling equipment providers have also seen that trend in the improved performance in lithium-ion batteries in recent years. In a recent interview on this magazine’s “Logistics Matters” podcast, Ron Dutt, the CEO of lithium-ion manufacturer Flux power, attributed that change to factors such as the technology’s decreasing “cost per kilowatt-hour,” due to the rising production of batteries for electric vehicles such as Tesla cars.
Producing tomorrow’s drive #technology: KION Battery Systems (KBS), a joint venture between KION and the battery manufacturer BMZ Holding GmbH, has started the production of lithium-ion batteries for industrial trucks at their production facilities: https://t.co/Lp1vjWbCCs pic.twitter.com/Oi61zny0hT— KION Group (@kion_group) December 1, 2020