Supporting KION with continuous system testing of a forklift IoT Device

The KION Group is a leading global intralogistics provider for supply chain solutions. The KION Group brands are among the best in the industry. Dematic is the world's leading specialist for automated material flow. The Linde and STILL brands serve the premium market for forklift trucks and warehouse equipment. Other brands cover the value segment as well as regional markets. The Group employs around 41,000 people worldwide.

The KION Group is among the world’s leading suppliers of industrial trucks and supply chain solutions. A few years ago the company introduced a new IoT gateway for fleet management and data communication. The device has some outstanding features – such as setting speed limits, managing which driver can access and drive which truck, accident detection, and others. All of the features can be easily managed remotely via the Internet, as an IoT gateway is connected to a cloud-based application. But, such an extensive set of functionalities needs an extensive amount of testing.

Since we are talking about system level testing, it is best practice to have an external test team. Therefore, KION partnered with Etteplan SWTCS to take advantage of its expertise in creating test systems using NI LabVIEW and NI TestStand.

 “The biggest challenge was to understand the entire system chain from the vehicle to the cloud and its interdependencies, and to design the respective interfaces in such a way that they would be testable for our use cases. Etteplan was already known to us as a trustworthy and reliable partner, and we were able to find the right competencies in the area of test automation here”, says KION. 

Test development must keep up with product development 

Going more into detail, the object under test is a device running Linux-based firmware, connecting the forklift truck to the Cloud-based application. This embedded software is developed continuously by the KION development team(s), and the automated test system created and maintained by Etteplan ensures that all the functionalities work as expected. The partnership is a long-term one, as tests need to be added and refactored to cover all the requirements while KION’s IoT gateway is evolving and getting more features. 

Rigorous testing means more efficient development  

As a result, KION can focus on developing the product, while Etteplan experts – or, to be exact, the automated test system created by them – focuses on making sure it works as expected. The dedicated, external test team whose sole purpose is finding bugs has already proven its worth by finding defects in the software that would otherwise make its way into forklift trucks delivered to KION customers. This way, costly service actions were avoided, and the company’s reputation remained unaffected.

Through many years of cooperation, a good understanding and know-how of our system were developed at Etteplan. This means that new topics can also be easily transferred and processed by Etteplan”, says KION.


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