The KION Group intends to step up its use of digital technologies in its efforts to continue driving profitable growth. "We are aligning our business to an increasingly digital world and developing our digitalization strategy," said the Chief Executive Officer of KION GROUP AG, Gordon Riske, at the company's annual general meeting in Frankfurt on Wednesday. "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."
Shareholders approved the supervisory board and executive board's proposals with a large majority, including a dividend of EUR0.99 per share. This is 24 percent higher than the dividend per share paid last year. In addition to the relocation of the Company's registered office according to the articles of association, following the relocation of the Group headquarters from Wiesbaden to Frankfurt at the end of 2017, the Annual General Meeting also approved a domination and profit and loss transfer agreement between KION GROUP AG (the controlling enterprise) and KION IoT Systems GmbH (the dependent company). IoT stands for Internet of Things - the term used to describe the fusion of the physical and virtual worlds that represents a genuine technological revolution. The approximately 130 shareholders at the annual general meeting represented almost 80 percent of the share capital.
In his speech, the chief executive officer stressed the importance of digitalization with examples of products the company has already developed, as well as new initiatives. "Digitalization is not only becoming an increasingly prevalent part of everyone's lives, but has also been firmly established in our industry for some time- and of course that includes the products of KION's brand companies," said Riske. To illustrate his point he mentioned the Truck Call app from Linde Material Handling, which allows fleet managers to assign orders to trucks digitally. STILL's nexxtFleet system presents all relevant data about an industrial truck fleet in a clear and easy-to-read form, and provides accurate analyses for the purpose of optimization. Dematic's computer-based iQ Sprocket maintenance system is a flexible solution that assists customers with their maintenance requirements.
Outlining some of the initiatives in this area, the CEO highlighted the KION Digital Campus, which opened at the start of the year. "The aim is to provide an innovative working environment where we can drive forward the process of digitalizing the KION Group," he explained, adding that other focal points will include direct collaboration with customers and the transfer of digital expertise within the Group. He also spoke about KION IoT Systems GmbH, another strand of the company's digital strategy. This is a team of software and app developers, test engineers, and system architects that has recently joined KION and has all the skills and expertise required to develop innovative digital applications, from the generation of ideas to the final implementation.
Digitalization is a central element of the KION 2027 strategy, which was unveiled in March and follows on from Strategy 2020, launched in 2014. Strategic fields of action include digital solutions and processes, energy efficiency, new energy systems, and automation solutions. They are based on a firmly established innovation culture and agile development processes within the Group, and on high-performing products and efficient processes.
Positive outlook for 2018
Turning to the prospects for the current year, the CEO said that in 2018 the company aimed to build on its successful performance last year. "Based on the forecasts for market growth, we will be seeking to achieve further increases in order intake, revenue, and adjusted EBIT." The group confirmed its outlook for the year.