Our Drive – Fascination for Movement. For a world where intelligent transport robotics makes our work safer and our lives easier, so we have more time for the important things in life.

Chris Price
Managing Director at E&K Automation Limited

E&K Automation GmbH is one of the world’s leaders in manufacturing and system integration of innovative high-tech transport robotics for intralogistics.

At five locations (Rosengarten (GER), Headquarters), Reutlingen (GER), Cormano (I), Pr?honice-?estlice (CZ), Buckinghamshire (UK)) with more than 250 employees we create intelligent, networked and flexible transport solutions for the fully automated, internal material flow of our customers worldwide. With more than 50 years of experience in planning, development, manufacturing, integration, turnkey delivery and full lifecycle support for Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV), EK AUTOMATION is today one of the technical elites in this fast-growing industry of the future.

Chris Price, Managing Director of E&K Automation Ltd spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.

What products or services does your company offer?

E&K Automation GmbH is one of the world’s leaders in manufacturing and system integration of innovative high-tech transport robotics for intralogistics.

We plan, develop, manufacture and integrate turnkey solutions and provide full lifecycle support for Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV), across Europe. Other products we offer include Conveyor Systems, Racking and WLAN.

Which industries do your customers operate in?

Our customers operate in a wide variety of industries including the manufacturing, warehousing, retail, storage, pharmaceuticals and motor manufacturing industries.

Do you have any examples of a project you have recently completed?

One project we have recently completed is for Arla Foods UK, the largest global dairy products manufacturer, located in Aylesbury.

They wanted to increase their production capabilities from 650 million litres of milk per year to 1 billion litres, and they had been using an EK-developed transport robotics system consisting of 90 driverless transport vehicles (AGVs) and an intelligent control system for the internal transport of goods. With up to 12,000 load movements per day taking place around the clock in the 9,000 m2 cold store, their state-of-the-art fresh milk dairy in Aylesbury is one of the largest and most modern in the world.

We created a customised solution using 2D and 3D simulation software to create an innovative AGV concept that has helped them achieve this target.

How did the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown affect your business?

With businesses looking at alternative ways to carry out their operations, whilst minimising human contact, we have seen more of a focus on our automation products.

Did Covid-19 have a negative impact or did the increase in online shopping actually result in a boost to your business?

COVID-19 has had a positive impact on our business. We are seeing an increase in enquiries as a result of the global pandemic due to the nature of our business and the products we manufacture.

Is your business back to normal following the Covid-19 outbreak?

The COVID-19 outbreak had no real impact on the business, nothing had really changed for E&K Automation this year other than following the necessary Government guidelines.

Going forward, will the industry be permanently changed as a result of Covid-19 or will it return to how it was pre-Covid?

We are projecting that the industry is set to get busier as a result of COVID-19. Our products and systems are automated and do not require manual operation, so taking this in consideration with the idea of social distancing as well as the efficiency benefits associated with our technologies, the AGV industry looks to only experience growth in the future.

What products or services will you be introducing in the next year?

The latest technology that we are very excited to introduce next year is the VARIO MOVE range of AGV vehicles. The VARIO MOVE range are fully automated transport robots with a range of different handling devices, offering safe, efficient and powerful industrial AGVs with maximum flexibility.

In what areas are you making technological advances?

E&K Automation have been working on our Guidance Systems, implementing a number of technological advancements to provide improved transport robotics for our customers.

What training do you provide for your staff?

At our Head Office in Germany, we run an E&K Academy where we train all of our staff and customers on how to use our AGV systems. This training goes from learning the basics all the way to teaching customers how to programme the system or make changes for themselves. Providing this high level of customer service and support is key to the success of our products.

What is the company’s commitment to social responsibility?

As a business we engage in a number of causes and one example of this is that we have recently been named as a sponsor of a library at the Hamburg School of Business Administration. EK Automation are supporting the relocation and conversion of the library with a generous donation, endorsing higher education in the region.

What improvements have you made to your customer service recently?

Customer service is of great importance to us. Therefore, we have made some changes to our support in order to be the most helpful we can be for our customers. Recently we have set up a 24 hr 7-day customer software support line to aid anyone who needs assistance with our products, whatever day of the week.

Are you helping customers boost the level of automation in their business?

The nature of our business is to improve efficiency with transport robotics and boosting the level of automation in their business is part and parcel of that.

Do you help customers maximise the use of their existing warehouse space?

Yes, our products are designed with the customer in mind and we plan out the best possible solutions for their warehouse space. Owing to this, we always try to maximise the area they are working with to ensure their operations are running in the most efficient and profitable way.

Will you be investing in your premises over the next 12 months?

Yes, we are! We have some exciting plans and are currently looking at a new building, as we are planning on expanding to continue focusing on research and development.

What industries do you believe offer your business the most potential over the next year?

We believe that Manufacturing and Retail are the two industries that will offer the most potential over the next year. With the current climate and many looking to purchase online, warehouse spaces for retail businesses could really benefit from the implementation of automated guided vehicles.

How future proof is your business?

EK Automation are writing the future of automated guided vehicles at the moment. We are at the forefront of intralogistics technology and innovation, and our products are pushing the boundaries of transport robotics.

Will you be exhibiting at any major trade shows over the next year?

Although we can see why many would exhibit at trade shows, this is something that we have chosen not to do. Instead, we would rather invest the cost of participating at these events into our research and development program, looking at ways we can improve our products even further and provide our customers with the very best service possible.

How would you sum up your company in three words?

Efficient, Innovative, Powerful.




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