By Allan Leibowitz
German military forces provide emergency services in Altenahr. PHOTO: PICTURE ALLIANCE/DPA
Germany's materials handling manufacturers appear to have escaped the ravages of the country's floods which have left more than 120 people dead.
According to industrial analysts, the flooded areas - in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate - are home to smaller, family-owned businesses rather than major industrial installations.
"The total economic impact should remain limited; even though the existential impact on the retail or hospitality sectors, which have already suffered enormously under the lockdowns, should definitely not be underestimated," says a report from the ING financial group.
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has promised emergency aid of at least EUR300 million (USD354 million) to flood victims and a multi-billion dollar program for reconstruction of damaged towns.
Forklift giant Jungheinrich has escaped damage, with a spokesman telling Forkliftaction News
that "Jungheinrich branches have so far not been affected by the devastation. According to current information, no Jungheinrich employees have been personally injured either. However, colleagues report private damage caused by the floods."
The spokesman notes that Jungheinrich employees from the affected regions are helping clean up the area and have been given time off by the company to do so. The Board of Management of Jungheinrich AG has also decided to support the reconstruction efforts with a donation of EUR100,000 (USD120,000). Half of the donation will go to the national action alliance and the other half to local organisations.
"We will take a close look in the coming weeks and months how we as Jungheinrich AG can support the people on the ground in this difficult situation. If we can help, we will help," he adds.
Hubtex also escaped the flooding, with its facilities at Hesse and Fulda unaffected. It appears that Hubtex dealers in the region have also escaped significant damage. "But, of course, this does not leave us untouched," says marketing manager Michael Röbig.
"Our business continues as usual, but our thoughts are with those affected by the events. We are experiencing a wave of solidarity and willingness to help among our employees in the face of the heavy rain disaster."
Like Jungheinrich, Hubtex is also supporting a German aid effort with donations. "It was straight away clear to us that we had to help those affected by the flooding," Röbig explains.
Still's head office in Hamburg and production plants in Reutlingen and Geisa are far from the affected areas, as are Linde's facilities in Aschaffenburg.
Parent company KION is donating EUR1 million (USD1.2 million) in emergency aid to the German Red Cross. The national relief organisation has been actively assisting in the rescue, care, and shelter of those in need in the areas.
"The images of flooding and destruction are shocking, and the people living in those areas have been hit hard. Many have lost everything they own, and some are also mourning the death of friends and relatives. Our thoughts and sympathies are with all those affected," says KION CEO Gordon Riske. "We would like to thank the professional and volunteer relief workers on the ground who are giving their all to mitigate the impact of this tragic natural disaster."
In addition to emergency financial aid, the Frankfurt-based intralogistics company is also making equipment and personnel available. "We are offering paid leave to all employees who are volunteers with an aid organisation, such as the Federal Agency for Technical Relief, the German Life Saving Association, and the German Red Cross, and providing active support on the ground to those in need in the flood-hit areas," says Anke Groth, labor relations director and CFO of KION GROUP AG. "We have also agreed to grant the German Red Cross free access to our forklift trucks to make it easier to manage the logistical challenges. The equipment will help to ensure that people in the affected areas have access to what they need."