Park Logisitics - Creating Supply Chain Solutions

Park Logistics - Creating supply Chain Solutions

Creating Supply Chain Solutions
Warehousing - Distribution - Fulfilment - Co-Pack

Phone: 0115 940 3332

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Craig-Rollason1With over 1400 active systems worldwide, the KNAPP group ranks among the leading solution providers in logistics automation and warehouse software. KNAPP designs, installs, maintains and upgrades systems that feature automated picking, conveying and storage technology. Headquartered in Graz, Austria, KNAPP has branches in Great Britain, Belgium, Italy, France, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Brazil, Germany, China, South Africa and the USA, as well as representatives in 17 other countries.

Warehouse Logistics News – First of all, what does your role involve day to day? Has your role changed since last year?

I head up sales for the UK and also look after marketing, including business development activities.

WLN – 2012: how was it for you?

2012 has been a great year for KNAPP in a number of ways. As well as having a healthy order book, we celebrated our 60th year of business and achieved a record turnover of some 327 million Euros for the year 2011-2012. Over the past five years, group turnover has grown by more than 66 percent.

WLN – What is your particular proposition for customers in the warehouse logistics sector? Has that changed since last year?

We design, manufacture, install, maintain and upgrade automated warehousing solutions, with special expertise in order fulfilment and warehouse integration. We also supply everything from the low-level software upwards, including machine control up to warehouse management systems, control systems and host-level interfacing. Ongoing customer support is absolutely key for us. In the UK, we now have five client sites with a resident KNAPP customer support team. We’re continuing to see an increase in demand for multichannel distribution systems, with the stringent customer service demands of e-commerce leading clients to be very interested in our concept of the ‘zero-defect warehouse’.

WLN – How has your business sector been performing in 2012? What do you see as the most important recent developments?

The warehouse automation sector has delivered a number of large and complex projects this year to some major brands. Continued e-commerce growth is definitely a driver here, pushing many clients into the arena of multichannel retail. Multiple orders with a low number of items per order mean that these companies have to think much more carefully about their order picking methods to achieve maximum efficiency at minimum cost – and this is where automation really pays dividends.

WLN – You are a major supplier in the Warehouse Automation category; how does this business break down into industry sectors?

KNAPP-logoKNAPP built its success and global presence on projects for the pharmaceutical wholesale industry but the composition of our sales revenue has been changing gradually over the past decade, with the retail, fashion, cosmetics, entertainment media, eyecare, tools and office supplies sectors all becoming more important. In fact, retail – including both food and non-food – is now the fastest-growing sector for KNAPP in the UK.

WLN – What was your biggest investment to improve your business in 2012? What else did you do?

KNAPP continues to invest heavily in its human resources and in research and development. As a group, we increased our workforce by 300 to 2,100 employees during the year 2011-2012 – with many of the new staff in the area of software development – and we invested over 20 million Euros in RD.

WLN – How are your existing products and services doing?

Boots-Burton-4The bedrock of our ‘low-complexity warehouse’ concept – which aims to reduce the number of different technologies in the warehouse in order to minimise costs – is the OSR Shuttle™ system. KNAPP pioneered the shuttle storage concept back in 2002 and we have been developing it continuously since then. As a result, we have sold over 10,000 shuttle units for more than 150 sites worldwide. This automatic storage and retrieval system (ASRS) – featuring an independent shuttle on every level of the storage cube, served by dedicated lifts at the aisle ends – forms the heart of many of KNAPP’s systems today. 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.

A development of our OSR Shuttle™ solution – Fastbox – that was launched last year is proving popular. Fastbox is a buffer tower for fast-moving products – such as goods featured in current promotional campaigns – situated immediately adjacent to the picking stations and served by the super-fast lifts from the OSR Shuttle™ system. Combined with the random storage of the OSR Shuttle™, the use of Fastbox towers allows shuttle technology to meet the needs of a wider range of applications.

WLN – Have you launched any new products or services in 2012? What are they, and how are they performing?

The first installation of KNAPP’s VISION picking system, featuring augmented reality technology, successfully went live in September 2012 at the site of the leading eyewear designer and manufacturer, Michael Pachleitner Group, in Nuremberg.

The second, Pick-it-Easy Move, is a solution being developed in co-operation with our customer, SPAR, for use in its new Vienna distribution centre. The solution enables ergonomic and efficient picking of fast-moving products directly from pallets into roll cages using the goods-to-person method. Pallets of goods of one type are delivered by conveyor to a moving shuttle with integral operator platform. This shuttle moves automatically between a dozen target locations – six on each side – featuring roll cages on lifts. Required goods are picked from the pallet according to instructions on a computer screen, with cartons being pushed from the pallet to the roll cage without the need for lifting. Pick-it-Easy Move also indicates exactly where each picked item should be placed for optimum space utilisation in the roll cages and the solution is designed to ensure shop-friendly deliveries.

The third new solution, Pick-it-Easy Pocket, is ideal for multichannel distribution centres. It 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 sorts them so that they arrive at the packing stations in the correct sequence to collate each customer’s order.

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

The successful delivery of the multichannel system for Boots UK’s new distribution facility in Burton-upon-Trent, which was required to meet rapid growth in the company’s online operations. The building also encompasses Boots’ UK Christmas Gift operations and its growing International Retail distribution.

WLN – What was your favourite business moment in 2012?

I was delighted that over 40 customers, prospective clients and members of the press from the UK joined us for our Month Of Visitors Event (MOVE) at our headquarters in Austria in early October. As well as having the chance to see our technologies in action in our dedicated showroom, customers enjoyed some traditional Austrian hospitality and it was a very enjoyable couple of days.

WLN – Do you operate in any other countries besides the UK? How are you getting on there? Have you gone into any new countries in 2012? What’s that been like?

Market conditions continue to be very tough in Italy and Spain but other European markets have faired much better. The UK is one of the three most important markets for KNAPP, not only in Europe but worldwide. About 80 percent of total turnover for 2011-2012 was achieved in Western Europe, of which the British and German markets accounted for the main share. While KNAPP has been a strong player in Europe, the USA and South America for some time, Eastern Europe is becoming increasingly important to the group, along with Australia and Asia.

WLN – Have you won any awards in 2012, or been accredited to any new industry standards during this time?

The handling system we supplied to Boots UK has won five awards. At the 2012 Grocer Gold Awards in June, KNAPP scooped the ‘Technology Logistics Supplier of the Year’ award. Also in June, Boots won the Operational Excellence accolade at the Supply Chain Distinction Awards in Berlin. Then, in September, Boots with KNAPP won the Retail Week Supply Chain Award for the ‘Logistics Distribution Development of the Year’. October saw the award of the fourth prize – the GDS International “Leader in Innovation” accolade – presented to KNAPP at the NG Retail Summit in Milan. The final award for the Burton Service Centre came when Boots with KNAPP received the Retail Award at the European Supply Chain Excellence Awards in November.

WLN – Which industry sectors are your customers in? What applications do people use your (products) for? Have you seen a shift in industry sector demand during this time?

Our clients are predominantly in food and non-food retail; e-commerce fulfilment; pharmaceutical and veterinary wholesale; fashion; cosmetics; tobacco; and spare parts supply. The OSR Shuttle™ goods-to-person storage and picking system forms the heart of many of our warehouse picking solutions and is also ideal for handling returned goods. Plus, this solution can now be enhanced by the addition of our VISION technology.

Some of the industry sectors we are active in handle high volumes of small, uniformly shaped products – cosmetics and medicines, for example – many of which can be picked fully automatically by a central belt (or A-frame) picking system. This fast and accurate solution has also been further enhanced by the addition of our VISION technology.

WLN – Can you tell us about any of your major projects in the last 12 months, and what they have involved?

Pick-it-Easy-MoveBoots UK, a member of Alliance Boots, opened a new distribution centre in Burton-upon-Trent in February 2012. It invested over £50 million in the facility, which included the purchase of the existing 460,000 sq ft building – the area of six football pitches – its total refurbishment and the automated handling systems. The retailer had experienced rapid growth in its online operations, driving a move from its outsourced, largely manual operation in Birmingham to in-house fulfilment in the new Burton Service Centre. At the heart of the solution are 12 of KNAPP’s OSR Shuttle™ systems, which provide automated storage combined with goods-to-person order picking at eight ergonomically designed Pick-it-Easy workstations.

Ideal for slow- and medium-moving goods, the OSR Shuttle™ systems process the majority of the inventory at Burton. Fast-moving products, meanwhile, are picked in a flow rack area at one of eight workstations that utilise pick-to-light technology. KNAPP also supplied its KiSoft WMS (warehouse management system) and KiSoft WCS (warehouse control software) to optimise all warehouse movements and processes. In addition, Boots UK contracted KNAPP to provide a team of resident engineers in order to maintain the handling solution. The system has increased time efficiency by 65% compared to the previous manual operation, while also improving order traceability. The solution is already providing a significant reduction in variable costs and its modular design provides a platform for further growth.

WLN – Are you making use of social media in your marketing?

Yes, we are – but we place greater emphasis on face-to-face relationships with our clients to build trust and a sense of partnership in our projects. This is one of the reasons why we exhibit at a number of industry events throughout the year.

WLN – How do your forward orders compare with last year?

sorter_bagOur order book is pleasingly busy, with the amount of upgrade projects for existing customers reflecting our philosophy of building long-term partnerships with our clients.

WLN – Which trade shows did you exhibit at in 2012? How were they and which shows are you at in 2013?

We exhibited at all three Logistics Link shows and picked up a few interesting enquiries. We’ll be exhibiting on stand 20D30 at IMHX, where we will be promoting our latest solutions, including our VISION technology.

WLN – Can you tell us about your plans for 2013? Where do you see your company going next year?

We see a whole host of applications for our VISION solutions, both in terms of new handling systems and upgrades to clients’ existing sites, so I think it’s going to be another busy year for KNAPP.


WLN – What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

KNAPP-Grocer-Gold-AwardWhen a project that I’ve been involved with from the first enquiry and through the various development stages finally goes live and meets the customer’s expectations.

WLN – What would you like Father Christmas to bring your company?

A continuation of the flow of interesting and profitable projects that we’ve been enjoying for the past few years – plus a bit more sunshine and a bit less rain!

WLN – What are you personally most looking forward to next year?

There’s no doubt that IMHX, being the leading industry event and taking place only once every three years, will be a highlight. It’s a chance for every supplier to make a song and dance about their products and services – sometimes literally!

WLN – If you won the Jackpot in the EuroMillions what would you do?

Being a bit of a petrol-head, I think I’d be buying all my dream cars – plus a property with plenty of garages to keep them all pristine!


Tel: 01844 202149


twitter: @KNAPPAG

Facebook: KNAPP AG

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