Swisslog is a leading global provider of integrated logistics solutions for warehouses and distribution centres. Its comprehensive services portfolio ranges from the design of materials handling systems, through warehouse construction and system implementation and integration, to comprehensive and dedicated customer support.
Swisslog’s solutions optimise customers’ production, logistics and distribution processes in order to increase flexibility, responsiveness and quality of service. At the same time, it understands the customers’ need to minimise logistics costs in order to remain competitive and to achieve sustainable growth.
Customers worldwide rely on Swisslog’s decades of experience including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola Amatil, Target and Wal-Mart.
Warehouse & Logistics News – What does your job involve day to day? Has your role changed since last year?
I was promoted to Head of Sales and Consultancy for Swisslog earlier this year after leading its consultancy and design team for the past three years. On a day-to-day basis, my new role allows for closer contact with customers whilst managing the rest of the sales team to meet our targets!
W&LN – 2011: how was it for you and Swisslog?
We have had a good year at Swisslog and observe an increased level of interest within the marketplace for automation as a way of reducing costs. We manufacture some of our systems in Europe so the strength of the Swiss Franc and the Euro needs managing, but the overall effect is not too concerning.
W&LN – What is your particular proposition for customers in the warehouse & logistics sector? Has that changed since last year?
We continue to offer an extensive portfolio of materials handling solutions for warehouses and distribution centres. Over the last year we have focussed more on light goods systems for carton and tote handling, rather than on palletised movements, thus reflecting the market trend for smaller, more frequent deliveries.
W&LN – How has the Warehouse Optimisation sector been performing in 2011? What do you see as the most important recent developments in the sector?
Energy efficiency is high on the agenda for most companies due to both economic and CSR reasons. Customers are asking up front about energy usage and it is an important criterion for evaluating systems. Obviously automated systems use more electricity than manual systems, so customers are interested in discussing our innovative approaches for minimising usage whilst maximising efficiency.
W&LN – Have you moved into any new business areas during 2011?
We have maintained a focus on our core market sectors of retail and food & beverage, whilst continuing discussions with a wider range of customers, including those in the pharmaceutical, automotive and paper industries.
W&LN – Has your company grown in the last 12 months?
Yes, in the UK we continue to win new customers and are pleased not to have experienced a decline due to the general downturn in economic conditions. Internationally, we are also doing well and expanding our activities in new countries, including India.
W&LN – Have you been investing in improving your premises, taking on more staff, upgrading your website, enhancing your IT etc in 2011?
We have upgraded IT systems and continue to invest in R&D to keep our solutions at the cutting edge of the materials handling market.
W&LN – Have you launched any new products or services in 2011? What are they, and how are they performing?
We have launched two automated systems, AutoStore and SmartCarrier, this year which have both been well-received. AutoStore is generating particular interest as it offers unique advantages in terms of efficiency, flexibility and cost effectiveness. We have already received some major orders for AutoStore.
W&LN – What’s been your company’s single biggest achievement in business this year?
We have won an €85m contract to design, realise and manage the implementation of a new logistics centre in Germany for Gries Deco Company, a leading retailer focusing on household accessories, gifts and furniture.
W&LN – What was your personal favourite business moment in 2011?
I have enjoyed working closely with new customers to see the systems we have designed and recommended actually being implemented and used. Of course, the best thing is when those customers tell me that they can really measure the improvement in their business processes due to our solutions.
W&LN – If your company had to go through 2011 again, what would you do differently?
I would not have chosen paint-balling as team-building exercise as I was splattered from head to foot!
W&LN – Do you operate in any other countries besides the UK? How are you getting on there? Have you gone into any new countries in 2011?
Swisslog is headquartered in Switzerland. It has over 2,000 employees working in 50 countries worldwide. We continue to expand in new markets and we have seen significant growth in both France and India this year.
W&LN – Have you won any awards in 2011, or been accredited to any new industry standards during this time?
AutoStore won the Best Product Award in the ‘Procurement, handling, storage’ category at LogiMAT 2011 in Stuttgart. Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) presented Swisslog Australia with the Supplier Challenge Award to recognise Swisslog’s contribution towards innovation in CCA’s NZ business.
W&LN – Which industry sectors are your customers in? What applications do people use your products/services for?
Swisslog’s solutions and services are targeted at storage, picking and replenishment for all industries. Historically we have focussed on retail and food & beverage, although we have experience throughout a wide range of markets including pharma, automotive and paper.
W&LN – Do you sell your products direct or through distributors? Has that strategy changed in the last year?
We are mainly in the business of delivering fully integrated systems for our customers but we also sell equipment to other integrators.
W&LN – Can you name any of your major projects in the last 12 months, and talk about what you have done for them?
Globally the company’s major projects included the €85m contract with Gries Deco (see previous answer) and a number of AutoStore systems for clients including Competec in Switzerland.
W&LN – How does your forward order book compare with a year ago? What about the waiting list for your (products) compare with a year ago?
The launch of new solutions including AutoStore and SmartCarrier have helped us generate a lot of interest and our order book is better than a year ago.
W&LN – Which trade shows did you exhibit at in 2011? How were they?
Two of the main exhibitions we attended in 2011 were CeMat and LogiMat. A number of our technologies were showcased including AutoStore, SmartCarrier, QuickMove and Tornado. We found both shows very successful.
W&LN – As the Christmas period is traditionally the busiest time of year for the UK warehousing and logistics industry, what challenges has your company been facing?
We tend not to have a pre-Christmas peak as our customers rarely wish to upgrade or have a new system installed during their own peak periods. Our systems are built to provide maximum availability and reliability at all times, but we also have dedicated teams of engineers available to help if customers’ needs change.
W&LN – As a company, what are your new year’s resolutions for 2012?
We are pleased with developments in 2011 and intend to keep moving in the same direction. We will maintain a high level of awareness of key market issues and trends, listen to customer requirements, and continue providing innovative solutions.
W&LN – What are your plans for 2012?
Making sure that Swisslog’s solutions continue to keep us ahead of the competition by working closely with customers to design exactly the right solution for them…. and ensuring that I meet my sales targets of course!
W&LN – Where do you see your company in three years’ time?
We have an expanded portfolio of systems and solutions and the right team in place in the UK to grow the company significantly over the coming years.
W&LN – And finally, what would you like Father Christmas to bring your company in 2012?!
Lots of orders, delighted customers and a new coffee machine!
Swisslog (UK) Ltd
Tel: 01527 551600