We are a leading global partner for intralogistics automation and robotics. Our head office is in Buchs, mid-way between Zurich and Basel, while our parent company, KUKA, is headquartered in Bavaria. A globally active automation company, KUKA has annual sales of around 2.1 billion euro and a workforce of about 12,000 worldwide.

James Sharples, Managing Director

Our business brings value to companies looking to automate their warehousing processes. We achieve this through a variety of solutions, systems and technologies. Listening closely and taking customer requirements into consideration is the first step to success.

From customers’ business strategy, we plan, design and manage scalable, reliable and future-proofed warehouse and distribution solutions that enable them to meet their own customer needs.

WLN – As a top Optimisation category supplier, what have conditions been like in the past year for your business?

Interest in scalable solutions continues to grow and our technology portfolio is expanding, both via recent acquisition and further development of our range, such as our advanced robot-human collaboration solutions.

The past year has been very positive for Swisslog. Our orders have gone from strength to strength and we’ve secured a wide range of new projects, including for the likes of Michelin, Wala and B. Braun.

WLN – How have recent international developments affected you and how have you responded?

Our business is expanding; we have now established additional operations in Spain and the Middle East, while we have also had a very strong year in the US. The speed of change is enormous across all industries and the intralogistics market is no exception. Major trends like flexible automation, digitalization, big data and the internet of things – in short: Industry 4.0 – are opening up completely new possibilities for us to offer innovative solutions and services. The opportunities presented by this fast paced market are made even more dynamic thanks to carefully planned growth strategies and our ongoing journey with our parent company, KUKA.

WLN – What are your flagship products and services?

Swisslog designs, develops and delivers integrated automation solutions for businesses involved in medium and large scale logistics operations. Using the latest technology, including robots, conveyors, sensors and software, we automate their processes and improve their storage and picking operations. We call this automated intralogistics.

We are best known for pallet technology, thanks to a solid history and impressive reputation. In recent times, our development of light goods technologies means we are now increasingly well known for scalable solutions such as CarryPick and AutoStore.

WLN – What makes you the ‘go to’ supplier in your category?

Our flexibility is a strong selling point. We already have a very solid starting basis, with the ability to look at our customers’ needs and design the best solution for current and future growth. Increasingly, we will offer “Everything as a Service” packages (XaaS), connecting a multitude of devices and sources into data models and tapping into new revenue potentials like predictive maintenance.

Consolidating data from elements such as conveyors, cranes and storage systems, and analyzing them through one common platform helps us to reduce complexity and improve optimization for customers. WLN – How do you help customers improve their business performance? In many instances, a human workforce is no longer the most efficient and flexible resource to execute the complex processes and multi-functional tasks of warehouse and distribution management.

Social and demographic changes have reduced the number of workers available with the sufficient determination, accuracy and reliability required to meet the demands of today’s supply chain. Faced with this new reality many companies are looking to a new era of robotics to solve intralogistics challenges.

Swisslog brings a special expertise, but also a strong customer-service element to all our relationships. We work with customers through the sales phase, help realise their investments in market leading resources in the realization phase and then continue to work with them on a lifecycle basis.

WLN – How have you changed your offering to customers in the last 12 months and why? Have you added anything new?

We recently purchased a company called Power Automation Systems (PAS) who manufacture a Pallet Shuttle called the PowerStor. PAS is a world leader in pallet shuttles with well-established references and reputation. Swisslog has partnered with PAS in projects in both the US and Asia over the last few years.

With the acquisition of this pallet ASRS technology, Swisslog will strengthen its leading position in the food and beverage industry as well as FMCG. The shuttle is also well suited for retrofits into existing buildings.

WLN – Have you made any enhancements to your customer service?

We have enhanced our account management services in the UK this year in our drive to further enrich service delivery to customers. We are very proud of our strong reputation as a trustworthy, reliable partner and our investment here has helped to reinforce our customer-centric operation.

WLN – Which markets are your customers in? Which ones are growing fastest?

Our expertise lies within the intralogistics field and this spans many different business categories. We focus particularly on Retail & E-Commerce, Food & Beverage, Pharmaceuticals and the Automotive sectors.

WLN – Can you name some of your major customers and tell us what do you do for them?

The UK is a very important market for Swisslog. Here, there is a mature logistics sector and success carries credibility elsewhere in the world. We’re growing our team locally to serve the increasing demand for our technologies, thanks to the likes of ASDA, Ocado, Walkers, and other leading brands such as P&G, Unilever, Jaguar, BMW and Unilever. Major UK food and beverage, chilled food, e-retail and pharmaceutical industries turn to us, and there are also a number of specialist industries like major ports, finance, printing houses and the hospital sector where we have traditionally had a strong UK presence.

WLN – What’s been your most memorable recent project?

Our work for TJ Morris, the name behind Home Bargains, one of the UK’s fastest growing discount retailers, has been very rewarding. The customer is delighted with the results. At the heart of the solution lies Swisslog’s CaddyPick semi-automated case order-picking system. The integration of CaddyPick has revolutionized the working environment for TJ Morris, offering simplicity of picking and a clean, quiet atmosphere for operators. It’s the first of its kind in the UK and we’re all very proud of it!

WLN – What were your other major achievements in the last 12 months?

We are continually progressing with further developments of our Automated Item Pick (AIP) technology. Our strength and leading position in this area was solidified earlier this year when we were awarded the 2016 Industriepreis for AIP – another proud moment for our business!

WLN – Are you branching into any new areas, targeting new customers and taking on more people?

Yes. We are investing in our future and looking to expand our UK team. We are in a specialist area, so we set the bar high, but we are committed to expanding the team with carefully selected highly skilled professionals.

WLN – Looking ahead, what factors do you see affecting your business? How are you turning these into opportunities?

The market is still developing and we see a lot of opportunity. We are fortunate that being part of the KUKA Group, we have a healthy level of investment and a great resource pool to support us in taking our business to the next level.

WLN – Which major trade shows and other industry events are you involved in over the next year?

We will be at all the major global shows, including LogiMAT and ProMAT and have an action-packed calendar of events in the UK market.

WLN – What headline news from Swisslog can our readers look forward to seeing in Warehouse & Logistics News in 2017?

We are on the cusp of announcing some exciting new projects and entering additional territories. Our business operates in many dynamic sectors, where technology is progressing at a fantastic rate.

WLN – And finally, in our social media age, if you had to sum up your company in a 140-character tweet what would you say?

Intralogistics automation is our past, present & future. Be inspired by technology; stay inspired by our expertise, passion & innovation.


01527 551 600