Swisslog is a global leader of automation solutions for the warehouse, distribution and healthcare sectors. We have over 1,000 references around the globe across multiple industries, from e-Commerce to automotive, food and beverage to pharmaceuticals.

Swisslog-Interview---James-Sharples-UK-MD[4]We have a wealth of knowledge analysing markets, discussing options and proposing the best automation solution for each customer across different sectors.

Swisslog is now part of the KUKA Group, a leading global supplier of intelligent automation solutions.

WLN – What are your best-known products and services?

Swisslog has a wide portfolio of technologies, ranging from palletised solutions to light goods and everything in between. Some of our most recognizable solutions are encompassed within our Click&Pick portfolio, popular amongst ecommerce businesses and high street retailers with technologies such as AutoStore, CarryPick and Automated Item Pick (AIP). Our technologies set standards the world over and we are often the first to introduce such ideas to the UK, standing out from usual technology in the market.

WLN – What makes you the first choice supplier in your field?

We have a reputation for high quality, reliable solutions. Customers also value the expertise of our technical support teams and the feedback we get indicates that we consistently go the extra mile.

Our diverse portfolio enables us to offer the right solution to the right customer, often based on their unique set of circumstances and requirements. We take the time during the design phase to get to know our customers’ goals to ensure the best solution is proposed, and is finely tuned to provide long-term benefits.

WLN – What changes have you made to your core offering in the last year?

This year we have introduced Automated Item Pick (AIP), the first solution of its kind, made possible thanks to our collaboration with KUKA. AIP brings practical Human-Robot Collaboration to the warehouse, allowing a safe and productive robotic single-item pick station that can also be used by (human!) picking operatives. This is a truly amazing use of the latest automation technology.

We’ve also implemented our first CarryPick installation. Unlike the traditional warehouse with fixed racks, the modular CarryPick goods-to-person system deploys automation technologies to reorganise the picking warehouse using mobile racks. Low-profile AGVs drive underneath the mobile racks and carry them to workstations, where the required items are picked and packed ready for shipping.

WLN – What industries are your customers in?

We have three focus industries – eCommerce, Food & Beverage, and Pharmaceuticals. However we also have a particularly strong UK customer base within the automotive, paper and print, and FMCG markets.

WLN – How do your products and services help customers become more efficient, greener or work safer?

We work closely with customers at the design phase, during realisation and with installed systems, to ensure that solutions are running as efficiently as possible. Not only does this save money for our customers, but as a global company our social responsibility is very important to us.

Health & Safety is also a big focus for us at Swisslog and we’re excited to be launching programmes to further tackle such challenges in the near future.

WLN – Can you tell us about some of your customers and the work you do for them?

We have a large number of UK customers, handling everything from small items up to car body parts. Our customers include the likes of Ocado, ASDA, PepsiCo, Jaguar Land Rover, Procter & Gamble and Unilever. We are committed to designing and realising solutions that deliver long-term results for our customers.

Our latest installed solution is for TJ Morris, trading as Home Bargains, one of the UK’s fastest growing discount retailers.

The company has over 280 stores throughout the UK and plans to expand to over 700 within the next five years. The new distribution centre will handle the increased volume and also facilitate distribution in Southern England. The project comprises pallet and light goods cranes and conveyors, including software, and racking. At the heart of the solution lies Swisslog’s CaddyPick semi-automated case order-picking system. The integration of CaddyPick will revolutionise the working environment for TJ Morris, offering simplicity of picking in a clean, safe atmosphere for operators.


WLN – Are you currently investing in the business, taking on staff or going into new markets or countries? If so, how’s it going?

Swisslog directly employs over 2,300 employees across more than 20 countries worldwide, and the nature of our work means looking after existing customers is paramount. Customer service remains a vital element of our future plans and we hope to further grow the UK business by entering new markets. Part of our efforts involves a constant re-evaulation of both our capabilities and skillsets. To that end we are also developing our software and engineering talent in line with our growth plans.

WLN – What are you doing to bring on new talent and raise skills levels in your company?

We have a Leadership and Development programme at Swisslog which nurtures talent and looks at ways to further develop our skills. We also offer internships which provide valuable opportunities and help us to bring young talent into the business, which is vital for our industry.

It almost goes without saying that our colleagues are the key to our success. Innovative technology requires special understanding and a methodical approach, whilst understanding customer needs and expectations are often linked to the application of that technology and hands-on experience. Thankfully we have great professionals with talent on both counts.

WLN – What are the major issues facing Warehouse Optimisation as we go forward? How is your company addressing them?

Businesses are generally on the lookout for a competitive advantage, whilst being wary of the impact changes have on the bottom line. As omni- and multi-channel operations have become the new norm, and customer expectations of overnight and even same-day delivery have been raised, the challenge is to get as optimal an operation as possible.

Certain sectors, such as pharmaceutical, have their own challenges brought about by government-imposed austerity measures, temperature control and the tracking of new medicines, plus changes in the way the market operates. All these tend to lead to greater emphasis on maximising efficiency and getting the most from existing infrastructure.

At Swisslog, we are bringing in new technology, new ways of thinking and new internal structures to provide local excellence across the globe.

Swisslog-Interview---Logo[3]WLN – What other big news from Swisslog can our readers look forward to reading in Warehouse & Logistics News in 2016?

We have major plans to strengthen our global market leadership team, to provide more focus on our core industries of e- Commerce, Food and Beverage and Pharmaceutical. We also have a number of exciting projects in the pipeline and, as usual, new technology to launch! We are looking forward to sharing new concepts with our customers and the wider public throughout 2016.

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