Park Logisitics - Creating Supply Chain Solutions

Park Logistics - Creating supply Chain Solutions

Creating Supply Chain Solutions
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Automation KNAPP UK Ltd

With over 1400 active systems worldwide, the KNAPP group ranks among the leading solution providers in logistics automation and warehouse software.


The KNAPP team designs, installs, maintains and upgrades systems that feature automated order picking, conveying and storage technology. Key business sectors include fashion, general retail lifestyle, food retail, pharmaceuticals and tools spares. Headquartered in Graz, Austria, KNAPP has branches in Great Britain, Australia, Benelux, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA, as well as representatives in 13 other countries. Craig Rollason, Managing Director of KNAPP UK Ltd, spoke to Warehouse Logistics News.

WLN – First of all, what does your role involve day to day? Has it changed since last year?

In May of this year, I moved from the role of Head of Sales Marketing for KNAPP UK to Managing Director. My predecessor as MD, David James, moved up to a new role of Regional Director for the UK, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

WLN – 2013 – How was it for you?

The KNAPP group improved on last year’s record turnover to report an all-time high of approximately 380 million Euros in March 2013. Our workforce also rose by 200 to 2300 staff, of whom 1700 are employed in Austria. Winning several key projects – including some here in the UK – helped to enhance our market position in our core business areas.

WLN – How has the Warehouse Automation category been performing this year? What do you see as the most significant recent developments?

E-commerce and fashion are key growth areas for us. The combination of busy lifestyles and a desire for improved product choice and availability continues to drive consumer demand in e-tail. In the fashion industry, we’re definitely reaping the benefits of our acquisition of Dürkopp Fördertechnik, the market leader in hanging garment conveying, and the requirement of many clients for solutions that seamlessly integrate flat and hanging goods.

WLN – What was your biggest investment to improve your business this year? What else have you done?

Research and development continues to be a priority for KNAPP, with the group again investing some 6 percent of turnover – 23.5 million Euros – in RD. Over 400 people at KNAPP worked on innovation and solution development during the past year. As a group, we have also embarked on the process of implementing SAP internally on a global basis. There has also been yet more investment in our headquarters in Graz, Austria, with an additional 14,000 m2 of office space planned and a brand-new company nursery.

WLN – How are your existing products and services doing? Have you developed or upgraded your existing products and services recently?

The OSR Shuttle™ system – the bedrock of our ‘low-complexity warehouse’ concept, which aims to reduce the number of different technologies in the warehouse – continues to dominate the shuttle storage market. To date, we’ve delivered 15,000 shuttles in over 200 systems worldwide. The solution – which features an independent shuttle on every level of the storage cube, served by dedicated lifts at the aisle ends – forms the heart of many of the solutions that we supply today. The efficiency of the OSR Shuttle™ is remarkable – it achieves up to six times the rate of totes in/out than a traditional ASRS, while having about 20% less footprint and using only some 5% of the energy consumption. We have continuously developed the concept since its launch, adding to its functionality and scope. Now the system can accommodate loads in more varied sizes and weights than ever before. It can store loads multi-deep and even handle goods directly, without any tray or container at all, making the solution highly flexible.


WLN – Have you launched any new products or services, and how are they performing?

The Pick-it-Easy Pocket has proved itself at the distribution centre of Celio in France. The solution consists of a hanging pocket – suitable for items such as flat-packed clothes, shoes, accessories, books, DVDs or toys – that runs on an overhead conveyor system typically used for hanging garments and manufactured by our group company, Dürkopp Fördertechnik. In order to maximise the performance of an OSR Shuttle™ system, items required for customer orders can be batch-picked and placed in a series of pockets. These pockets – each of which has an RFID tag – are then conveyed to a matrix sorter which sequences them so that they arrive at the packing stations in the correct manner to collate each customer’s order. The first installation of another new solution, the Pick-it-Easy Robot, is underway at a dental supplies company in Benelux. This state-of-the-art robotic picking system uses our KiSoft Vision image analysis technology to detect the best item to pick among randomly oriented articles in a tote, based on the amount of accessible surface area.

WLN – What’s been your company’s single biggest achievement in business this year?

KNAPP UK has enjoyed continued growth, with sales totalling over €100 million over the last three fiscal years and now employs more than 100 staff here in the UK. As a result, it was decided to form a board of directors to include myself, David James (Regional Director for the UK, Sweden, Norway and Finland), Ebb Kretschmer (Customer Service Director) and Neil Garner (IS and Projects Director). This new organisational structure was implemented seamlessly and has been working extremely well.

Knapp-LogoWLN – What was your favourite business moment in 2013?

Our annual ‘MOVE’ (Month Of Visitors Event) was very enjoyable this year. We welcomed existing and prospective customers from across Europe to an event focused on e-commerce, including a visit to the highly automated warehouse of in Burton-upon-Trent – even venturing inside the fully automated OSR Shuttle™ store. Visitors also enjoyed a guided tour and a six-course beer-tasting menu at the National Brewery Centre in Burton, which was quite a treat for us all.


WLN – Do you operate in any other countries besides the UK? How are you getting on there? Have you gone into any new territories recently?

KNAPP has 20 subsidiaries and 13 representative offices around the globe. Our most recent office opened in Australia a couple of months ago.

WLN – Can you tell us about your major projects this year, and what they involved?

This year KNAPP has been installing the world’s largest shuttle storage system – with 400,000 storage locations – for Hugo Boss, the international fashion and lifestyle brand, at its new distribution centre in Filderstadt, Germany. The logistics centre will go into operation in early 2014. As the order for this system was only placed in the autumn of last year, the design and implementation period has been extremely short.

WLN – Can you tell us about your plans for 2014? Where do you see your business going?

The development of robotic picking is a very exciting area for KNAPP and we see a whole host of applications for the KiSoft Vision image recognition technology, both in terms of new handling systems and upgrades to clients’ existing sites.

WLN – Are you exhibiting at any major trade shows in 2014?

KNAPP UK will be exhibiting at the Packaging Innovations show at the NEC in Birmingham on 26 27 February. The KNAPP group will be showcasing its full range of solutions at CeMAT in Hanover from 19-23 May, as well as at LogiMAT in Stuttgart from 25-27 February and MODEX in Atlanta from 17-20 March.


WLN – What other headline news from KNAPP can our readers look forward to reading about in Warehouse Logistics News next year?

We intend to be reporting continued success in winning important projects – particularly in e-commerce and fashion, as well as in the pharma sector, where we are still market leader – to support our ambitious plans for growth over the next few years.

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