E&K Automation is one of the world’s leaders in manufacturing and system integration of innovative high-tech transport robotics for intralogistics. We create intelligent, networked and flexible transport solutions for the fully automated, internal material flow of our customers worldwide.
Chris Price, Managing Director at E&K Automation UK speaks to Warehouse & Logistics News.
What are your best-known products/solutions/services?
The E&K Automation Group 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 and further afield. We can also supply peripheral equipment such as Conveyor Systems, Racking and WLAN.
Which industry sectors are your customers in and which ones are growing fastest?
Our customers operate in a wide variety of industries including the manufacturing, warehousing, retail, storage, pharmaceuticals and motor manufacturing industries.
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.
What are your most recent product etc innovations?
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.
What are the major trends and developments affecting your category and your customers, and how are you responding?
With more and more businesses looking at automated intralogistics solutions E&K Automation are looking to continue our research projects and push the limits of what is possible with our AGV machines and how we can make the impossible possible for our customers – this is what drives us every day!
Can you tell us about any recent customer contracts and how you helped the customer meet their challenges?
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 does business in 2020 compare to previous years? What’s your strategy for succeeding in the current climate?
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.
2020 was a very positive year for our business. We saw an increase in enquiries as a result of the global pandemic due to the nature of our business and the products we manufacture.
What’s the latest news from your company?
The E&K Group is expanding to deal with the increasing demand for its solutions. We are seeing the same growth in the UK and are expanding the operation to meet the demand. We are purchasing larger premises and looking for talented personnel to join us in our expansion plans.
We have recently renewed a major maintenance contract and at the end of 2020 won a substantial multi-million pound order from a major UK automative operation.
Can you tell us about any areas where you’re currently making technical advances?
The E&K Automation R&D team has been working on our Guidance and Positioning Systems, implementing a number of technological advancements to provide improved transport robotics for our customers creating a more optimized and safe environment.
Are you investing in staff training and skills development?
At our Head Office in Germany, we run 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 staff training, customer service and skills development is key to the success of our products.
Are you taking part in any major trade shows? Can you tell us what you’ll be exhibiting there?
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 programme, looking at ways we can improve our products even further and provide our customers with the very best service possible.