Crisplant, the high-speed, automated sortation experts, have seen one or two changes of name and ownership over the years, but the values that have made them internationally popular with customers remain unchanged. Now part of the BEUMER Group, a leading material handling systems supplier, Crisplant’s worldwide reputation has been gained over many years as a developer of innovative sorting technology and control systems. The company has retained the same team, and its global reach, product range, values and support network remain as strong as ever.
Crisplant’s high-speed, automated sortation technology products sit at the heart of modern baggage handling, material handling and logistic systems. In addition to local support in the regions in which they operate, Crisplant has a state-of-the-art design and innovation centre, including a customer demonstration facility, located at their headquarters in Aarhus, Denmark. Brian Jones, Sales Director at Crisplant Ltd, the UK operation, spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.
Warehouse & Logistics News – Brian, as Sales Director at Crisplant, do you get personally involved in talking to customers and developing tailored solutions for them?
Yes, I get involved from the first conversation with the customer through to when the system goes live. I believe it’s vitally important that we focus on addressing the individual requirements of our customers: I’ve been in the industry over 35 years, and I can vouch that no two systems are identical. There are always different drivers for projects, and different solutions to meet the need.
WLN – When did you join Crisplant? What were you doing before this?
I joined Crisplant in February. I’ve spent my career in the materials handling industry, in business development or sales management roles. Other companies I worked for bought sortation systems from Crisplant, so although I haven’t worked for them directly before, I’ve been involved with them throughout my career.
WLN – Crisplant has been through various changes over the years. Can you give us a brief history of the company?
Svend Christensen, an engineer and entrepreneur, founded Crisplant in 1951. In 2000 it was bought by FKI plc, and changed its name to FKI Logistex. In July 2008, FKI was taken over by Melrose plc and the business reverted to Crisplant, going back to the original name to underline its expertise as a sorting solution and service provider. Crisplant was then acquired by BEUMER Group in August 2009.
WLN – Who are the BEUMER Group?
WLN – What do BEUMER Group do?
Like Crisplant, BEUMER Group implements material handling systems for a variety of industries using specialised technology within conveying and loading, palletising and packaging, as well as in sortation and distribution. The company ranks among the world’s largest within its field, and is one of the leading suppliers within baggage handling and parcel sortation markets.
WLN – Can you explain how the Crisplant and BEUMER brands fit together?
Here in the UK, BEUMER Group has gathered all business activities in one location to represent both BEUMER and Crisplant in the UK. The office has the remit to offer equipment from both ranges and supply the best solution to suit the client’s requirements, whether from BEUMER or Crisplant.
WLN – Which industry sectors are your customers in?
Crisplant has enjoyed major successes over the years in three sectors, airports, post and parcels, and warehouse and distribution, and to date has installed over 1,100 sorters worldwide. No other company has such a large customer base of installed solutions, and Crisplant are justifiably proud of their position as the premier sortation solution provider.
WLN – How do you and BEUMER work together on international business?
Between us, the two companies keep up to date on which projects are coming up in different countries, and we work together to capitalise on opportunities as they arise.
WLN – Where does Crisplant fit into the BEUMER Group’s plans?
This investment in Crisplant is a major step forward in the long-term strategy of developing the BEUMER Group worldwide. The combination of Crisplant and BEUMER will strengthen the group’s capabilities and support to our customers worldwide.
WLN – Are there any plans to rationalise the businesses or change direction?
No. BEUMER is one group with three brands, Crisplant, Koch (pipe conveyer products) and BEUMER. And all three companies remain dedicated to providing their own customers with market leading products and systems integration, which are key competencies that offer a competitive advantage. BEUMER are now completely focused on the materials handling markets including sortation and there are plans to invest in Crisplant’s global reach and product range to enable us to better serve our customers.
WLN – Are you both aiming at the same industrial sectors, and will Crisplant concentrate on Warehouse & Distribution as before?
For the BEUMER Group, it is key to look at the long-term success rather than the short-term profit. And with this in mind we will remain focused on the industrial sectors in which we already operate, and use the strength and know how of the group to service the market and our customers the best way possible.
WLN – Will you keep the Crisplant name from here on in?
Yes, as part of the strategy our parent company will continue to use these well known brands. Our sales teams will share offices and support teams around the world. The object is to respond even faster, and with more flexibility, towards local market demands.
WLN – Is it helpful now being part of a bigger group?
Yes, it is. Being part of the BEUMER Group gives us the resources to expand and enables Crisplant to deliver even greater value to our existing and future customers.
WLN – What have you done so far in terms of expansion?
We have enhanced our global reach, our product offerings and our worldwide network of customer support, thereby strengthening our position as an innovative and reliable supplier of sorting solutions and system integration.
WLN – How does the customer support side work?
The BEUMER Group office provides support to both Crisplant and BEUMER customers in the UK and Ireland, thereby supporting our large installed base of warehouse and distribution, post and airport customers through a local and targeted presence, rapid delivery of spare parts and further improved service. If one of the three companies in the group supplies a system, that company provides the hotline support to its customers.
WLN – What support services do you offer?
Our service and support capability covers upgrades and enhancements, hotline support, spare parts logistics, residential service, field service and customer training.
WLN – What do you mean by ‘Residential Service’?
Our Residential Service means that the total maintenance responsibility and/or operation of the customer’s sorting system rests with Crisplant. It covers operation, preventive maintenance, corrective maintenance, contingency plans, spare parts management, and Facility management. In fact we have quite a lot of customers who opt for a residential service agreement as part of getting a Crisplant or BEUMER system.
WLN – What equipment is in the product range now?
The Crisplant product range includes groundbreaking innovations in high-speed sortation such as the energy-efficient LS-4000 Tilt-tray and Cross-belt, CrisBag®, as well as state-of-the-art Crisplant software control system and integration services.
WLN – You recently sold a new sorting system to UK retailer “New Look.” How does that work?
The New Look installation, with an LS-4000 Cross-belt sorter at its heart, has the flexibility to operate at three different speeds, allowing it to optimise the sorting capacity while minimising wear and tear, noise level and power consumption. The system is designed to operate at a higher speed in peak seasons and to reduce the speed when demand is lower. The sorting system design allows for further expansion, with the possibility to extend the sorter and add additional induction areas and discharges. This inherent flexibility is something we build into all our system designs so that our customers can safeguard for future growth.
WLN – How “green” are your systems, compared to others on the market?
The “green” Crisplant LS-4000 sorters feature an innovative linear drive motor technology, which allows Crisplant’s customers to achieve a direct energy saving of over 80% per year, compared to sorters using conventional motor technology.
WLN – Can you quote any “green” figures from actual installations?
In an installation in Germany, three LS-4000 sorters at the Witt-Gruppe site have reduced the environmental impact of the distribution centre by saving more than 26 tons of C02 per year.
WLN – Can your systems grow with operations as they expand?
As I mentioned earlier, the inherent flexibility in system design is something that our customers demand. Next generation efficiencies in high-speed automated material handling, as well as in the use of space and energy, mean Crisplant system can support the future expansion of a distribution centre, as well as the future sustainability of global resources.
WLN – Can you name some of your customers, and tell us what you have done for them?
The UK and worldwide list of customers includes distribution systems for Nike, Gap, Amazon, Sainsbury’s, Wal-Mart, JD Williams, Benetton and Victoria’s Secret, to name but a few. Our systems are also installed at major airports worldwide, and in a significant number of parcel sortation centres.
WLN – Do you publish customer case studies?
We publish customer case studies on our web site, including projects from the food industry, post and parcels, fashion and footwear. Many of our customers are happy for us to bring prospective customers to their sites to see their sortation systems in action.
WLN – Do you supply equipment to other integrators?
Yes, we do. We’re a premier supplier of sortation systems, and are happy to work with integrators on projects where our sorters are part of a larger materials handling solution. The typical automated storage solution to which we supply our sorters involves miniload or pallet cranes and a large-scale picking or conveyor routing system. We have very good relationships with many market leading integrators.
WLN – What industry standards are your systems made to?
We work to all the current UK and EU engineering, electrical and materials handling standards, of which there are hundreds! We make sure we remain up to date.
WLN – How long do customers take to see a return with your systems?
This obviously varies from system to system, and as part of the consultation process with individual customers the case for investment is worked through in detail, so they know at the outset what they can expect. In certain instances the benefits could be an immediate lowering of the distribution costs, in other cases the enhanced capacity may mean that a customer can expand the business or services provided. Each case is taken on its merits and has to demonstrate clear benefits to that customer.
WLN – Are you exhibiting at any trade shows this year?
We had a very successful CEMAT in May. Visitors were able to see our relaxed and friendly approach, and learn how we design our solutions and react to customers’ individual requirements. We’re going to be at various other shows over the next few months, including the Post Expo in Germany in September.
WLN – Has the recession affected demand for your products and solutions?
Some customers have hesitated during the hard times, but others have been investing. There’s increasing investment in automation and customers are reaping the benefit. It’s a tough market, and projects have to stand on their merits.
WLN – Would you say the recession is over?
I wouldn’t go that far, but there are clear signs that people are investing and projects that were shelved are coming back on stream.
WLN – Finally, where do you see Crisplant going from here?
We have a good installed customer base but there’s room to improve, and to offer existing customers a second or third installation. We look to be the first choice in sortation solutions in the UK, because of our pedigree and experience.
Tel: 01530 26 7091