Swisslog designs, develops and delivers best-in-class intralogistics automation solutions that enable forward-thinking customers to provide the right products, to the right place, at the right time. Swisslog delivers everything companies need to optimize logistics – from planning through implementation and customer service. Its order fulfillment and software solutions enable companies to achieve the highest throughput at the lowest cost, efficiently handle large catalogs of SKUs and accurately meet customers’ delivery demands and specific requirements. Part of the KUKA Group, Swisslog is headquartered in Switzerland, and has customers in over 50 countries worldwide.
Shane Faulkner, Swisslog UK’s Head of Sales, speaks to Warehouse and Logistics News.
What are your best-known products and services?
As a company that covers everything from goods-to-person technologies to intelligent software, it’s not easy to think back on our successes and pick the most distinguished products. Our robotic solutions are currently leading the way, as businesses are looking for more efficient way to pick and pack their products. CarryPick is a popular system for those looking for flexibility, while our ACPaQ system offers fully automated mixed pallet creation.
Our SynQ software is becoming increasingly popular too. Dubbed a best-inclass intralogistics software platform, SynQ enables insights, optimization and agility in storage and distribution operations.
Which market sectors and countries are your customers in? Which ones are growing fastest?
Over the years, we have developed a specialized knowledge in a range of industries, and have customers in over 50 countries around the world. The retail and ecommerce sectors remain high on the agenda, but the pharmaceutical, automotive and food & beverage industries make up a large portion of our customer-base too. While there are industries that currently demand more attention than others, we take pride in the fact that our solution portfolio has something fit for most applications.
Who are your major customers and what do you do for them?
Here in the UK, we work with companies like TJ Morris, trading as Home Bargains, Ocado, P&G, Unilever, PepsiCo and ASDA. For Home Bargains, our semi-automated monorail picking system, CaddyPick, was a perfect fit. The site is equipped with energy saving technology and we continue to support the business through a lifetime partnership. ASDA selected our AutoStore solution to handle its products in a more space-efficient way at its Lutterworth IDC. A team of Swisslog engineers is permanently based at the IDC for system support and maintenance.
Further afield, we are implementing our ACPaQ system for Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA), one of the world’s top five Coca-Cola bottlers. The solution will be the first of its kind to go live in an operational environment globally, and will introduce automatic picking to more than 90% of CCA’s products. Linked to the existing high bay warehouse, the technology is set to deliver major operational efficiencies and support the business in keeping up with growth. The solution is made up of an automatic delayerer for case replenishment, a manual case infeed station, aisles CycloneCarrier case buffer, RowPaQ robots, a layer handling gantry, a promove pallet conveyor system, and quickmove – a light goods conveyor system.
How do your products benefit your customers’ businesses?
The benefits of our automation products are endless. Aside from the obvious productivity boost, using robotics in an operation can also mean more accurate fulfilment of orders and a better use of the available space.
Logistics managers are looking for sleeker picking processes without concerns arising over removing human interaction and we have solutions available today that combine the skills of robots and human operators. Our AutoPiQ system is the latest technology born from our collaboration with KUKA.
Networked with an automated goods-toperson warehouse system, such as CycloneCarrier, AutoStore or CarryPick, AutoPiQ is able to assist human operators with picking tasks, allowing workers to focus more on value-added services.
On the other end of the spectrum, our ACPaQ solution fully automates one of the most important areas of the intralogistics operations of successful retailers: creating customised mixed pallets for individual stores from single-SKU pallets.
Why should customers choose you as their main supplier in your area?
Swisslog’s solutions are future-proof. We have a whole portfolio of industry 4.0-ready products, which means automated facilities remain flexible and scalable.
Our robotics applications guarantee maximum speed, accuracy, and efficiency, while our comprehensive service portfolio and smart software solutions ensure reliable performance and 100% availability. Hand in hand with KUKA, we deliver one-of-a-kind solutions for the entire value creation chain.
What were the business highlights for you in the last 12 months?
We recently won a contract to deliver our AutoStore solution for the world’s largest online store for designer childrenswear, Childrensalon.
The system will accommodate 23,000 AutoStore bins and is set to go live in March 2019.
XPO Logistics also announced a major new partnership with the world’s largest food and beverage company, Nestlé using Swisslog’s logistics automation. The deal is centered on a new 600,000 sq ft facility at the East Midlands Gateway in north Leicestershire, set to go live in August 2019, that will utilize future-ready automation technology to provide a state-of-the-art digital warehouse.
What’s been your most outstanding recent project?
That would have to be the delivery of the biggest shuttle system in Europe at dmdrogerie markt. As Europe’s top-earning drugstore chain, we were excited to win our third contract with dm last year. This year has been all about delivering on our promises to them.
How have you fine-tuned your offering in the last 12 months and why?
This year we have been particularly busy developing our existing portfolio to improve processes and increase flexibility. We have introduced a host of improvements to our CycloneCarrier shuttle solution that have resulted in less tote movement while in operation.
What new products have you brought out?
One of our core focuses this year has been on new software capabilities for our SynQ platform. We have developed Alexa for Logistics Automation.
Introducing voice control to the warehouse environment gives the user the ability to be away from the system but yet be in control and have an oversight into the production process. It frees up the users to do other operations while they request information from the system.
What factors do you see affecting your business in the coming year? How will you turn these into opportunities?
The growing popularity of data driven solutions has put a sharp focus on specific logistics challenges, and we are looking forward to meeting this demand by continuing to develop our SynQ software platform. We’ve seen an increased interest in solutions that allow users to utilize data to strengthen their operation.”
Are you planning to branch into any new areas, target new customers and take on more people?
We plan on continuing to expand our capabilities by branching out further into Iberian and French markets. Our team is continuously expanding and will play an integral part in increasing our presence in these countries.
Are you investing in new premises and extra staff? What about staff development and training?
Recruiting and retaining talent is high on the agenda and we have recently adopted a Graduate Scheme to help us meet this challenge. It is only with the hard work of Swisslog colleagues that our business has become what it is today. We also take pride in showing our appreciation for this by investing in our employees through continuous support and encouraging development.
Are you involved in any major trade shows or other industry events over the next year?
We’re looking forward to a year packed full of events and expect to be appearing at all major logistics shows across the globe. This year’s exhibitions were a success, showcasing a range of our dynamic warehouse automation solutions. We’re excited about continuing to demonstrate products from our portfolio next year.
And finally, if you had to sum up your company in a tweet what would it be?
Working closely with forward-thinking logistics organisations, Swisslog leads change through intelligent automation solutions.