KNAPP is a leading global supplier of intralogistics automation, with over 1700 active installations worldwide.
Headquartered in Graz, Austria, the KNAPP group employs more than 4,500 staff worldwide and achieved a net turnover of 954 million euros in the business year 2018-19. The group was established in 1952 and its British subsidiary, KNAPP UK Ltd, has been operating since 1997. Craig Rollason, Managing Director of KNAPP UK Ltd spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.
What are your best-known products and services?
KNAPP is renowned for delivering intralogistics systems that ensure highly efficient and accurate storage, order picking and dispatch, as well as for providing high-quality customer service to ensure maximum system availability for clients worldwide.
Our OSR Shuttle™ automated storage and retrieval system forms the heart of many KNAPP solutions. Highly energy-efficient, the OSR Shuttle™ store serves ergonomic workstations from our Pick-it-Easy range. KNAPP’s Pocket Sorter is another product that increasingly features in our solutions, especially in e-commerce distribution. The Pocket Sorter combines overhead conveying technology with a matrix sortation algorithm to arrange hanging pockets into the precise sequence required for dispatch. Other key products are our Open Shuttle AGVs, intelligent conveyor systems, the KNAPP-Store robotic ASRS, A-frame autopickers and our robotic order picking system.
What new products/services have you recently launched?
KNAPP has always been committed to investment in research and development and in the past business year, the R&D budget increased by 25% to 48 million euros, enabling us to remain a pioneer of intralogistics technology.
This year we launched the Pick-it-Easy Evo workstation, which combines ergonomic design with intuitive operation to enable warehouse staff to work smart, not hard. As well as minimizing the strain resulting from stretching and lifting, Pick-it-Easy Evo embodies KNAPP’s zero defect philosophy to ensure error-free operation.
Tell us about your business highlights or a project you have recently completed
An exciting project for us recently has been the intralogistics systems at Shop Direct’s brand-new distribution centre at East Midlands Gateway. One of the largest orders to date for KNAPP UK, delivery is progressing well and the solution will go live early in 2020.
On the global stage, our US subsidiary is currently installing one of the largest systems ever delivered by the KNAPP Group. The new facility – for Digi-Key Electronics at Thief River Falls, Minnesota – has been designed to store 1.66 million SKUs using OSR Shuttle™ Evo technology, with over 1000 shuttles being deployed to support goods-to-person order fulfilment.
What are your key industry sectors and which offer you the most potential next year?
The most important industries for KNAPP are retail, e-commerce, fashion, healthcare and food retail. We expect demand from the e-com, fashion and retail sectors to continue to be high in 2020, while the pharmaceutical industry will remain a significant source of business. Looking ahead, there is considerable potential in direct-to-patient services in this sector.
Are you investing in new premises over the next 12 months? What about recruitment, staff development and training?
The KNAPP group has over 40 locations around the world. KNAPP’s sites in Leoben and Dobl (Austria) have both been extended recently and capacity in Poland, Slovenia and Croatia – among other locations – has been expanded. In addition, a new headquarters building is planned for the US.
Over the last three years, the number of KNAPP employees worldwide has increased by 50% from 3000 to 4500. Staff numbers in the UK have also risen from 185 in 2016 to over 250 today, with this total projected to rise to over 290 next year. We continue to invest in apprenticeships to help recruit and train the customer service engineers that we need for our resident sites.
How do your products help businesses become cleaner, recycle more and reduce their carbon footprint?
Sustainability is an important factor in KNAPP’s intralogistics solutions. For example, the OSR Shuttle™ solution features intelligent energy management and energy-recuperation technology. It can also handle cardboard cartons directly, without the need for decanting into plastic totes. Our systems are designed to minimize the movement of goods, the volume of dispatch cartons and – through route-optimized vehicle loading – the number of delivery miles.
Are you involved in any major trade shows or other industry events next year?
Together with KNAPP subsidiary, Dürkopp Fördertechnik, we will be exhibiting at the IntraLogisteX show (31 March & 1 April) at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena. The KNAPP group will also be exhibiting at LogiMAT in Stuttgart (10-12 March) and MODEX in Atlanta (9-12 March).
What do you offer in terms of customer service?
Speed and reliability in aftersales support is increasingly seen as a critical factor by clients. Most of the larger systems we deliver are supported by resident teams of KNAPP technicians who carry out preventative maintenance and deal quickly with any operational issues. Our service operation has an unrivalled reputation in the industry and we currently have 15 resident sites across the UK and Ireland.
How do your solutions reduce manual handling and improve efficiency?
KNAPP’s solutions are designed to minimize handling, with one-touch operations wherever possible. Our new Pick-it-Easy Evo picking station has been developed with experience from over 1000 workstations from the Pick-it-Easy series delivered worldwide. As well as ergonomic design features to minimize employee strain, the workstations feature KNAPP’s easyUse interface via touch-screens to ensure error-free and rapid operation. Additional quality assurance equipment is also available – including light curtains, scales, scanners and image recognition technology.
How do you help customers make optimum use of their existing warehouse space?
Our systems are designed around maximizing storage density, with overall footprint minimized by making intelligent use of mezzanine floors. Our new Pick-it-Easy Evo goods-to-person workstation can either have a traditional connection to the store through a pre-zone or it can be directly connected to the OSR Shuttle™ in order to save space.
To what extent are you drivers of technological change?
KNAPP has always been a pioneer in intralogistics – developing the first shuttle storage system, bringing innovation to the field of matrix sortation, pushing the boundaries with robotic order picking and developing market-leading image recognition and processing technology.
How future-proof and flexible are your solutions as businesses change?
Inherent flexibility is a key feature of KNAPP solutions. This is facilitated by the modularity of many of our solutions, which enables clients to automate their operations in stages as their businesses grow. In addition, many of our solutions now comprise Industry 4.0 features that help clients to predict and manage change in their operations. For example, our new redPILOT software solution features artificial intelligence. This cloud-based software – developed by redPILOT GmbH, a start-up company within the KNAPP group – is designed to optimize warehouse logistics, with all experience gained being used for machine learning. It helps warehouse operators to use available resources – such as systems, personnel, energy, space and materials – dynamically in order to optimize performance in a context of constantly changing factors such as order structure and delivery dates.
And finally, if you had to sum up your company in a hashtag what would it be?
KNAPP UK LTD
01865 965 000