AR Racking is a company specialising in designing, manufacturing, calculating, and installing industrial racking and storage systems for heavy and light loads, complying with the most stringent European standards. With an export rate of above 90%, AR currently has commercial presence in more than 60 countries.
It has a Technology Center where R&D activities are developed, a completely automated Production Center of approximately 35.000 m2, a Research and Testing Laboratory at Mondragón University and a Research and Simulation Classroom at the University of the Basque Country.
José Manuel Lucio, Managing Director at AR Racking, speaks to Warehouse & Logistics News.
What are your best-known products/solutions/services?
AR Racking is one of the key players in the storage solutions sector, with a wide offering of tailor-made solutions that adapt to the specific needs of the costumer.
Our range of industrial storage systems covers conventional industrial racking solutions for all types of loads (heavy loads such as pallets and light loads for manual picking) through to solutions for automated and semi-automated warehouses.
We also provide a specialized service that covers all of the installation phases. At AR Racking we develop the turnkey project concept to the full: analysis of requirements, solution consultancy, structure design and calculations, production planning and monitoring, quality and logistics and installation planning and implementation.
Which industry sectors are your customers in and which ones are growing fastest?
E-commerce is growing a lot, so it is true that right now there is a boom in large e-commerce companies that are growing and absorbing part of the market, but we must also bear in mind that there are many companies that are changing their sales channels. In other words, there are many conventional companies that are creating new sales channels and, therefore, they are undergoing a logistical transformation and we have to accompany them.
Therefore, it is not only what the large e-commerce companies consume, as this new scenario, especially after Covid, has forced many companies to transform, and this will continue because there is a lot of demand and we know that e-commerce will continue to grow.
Moreover, in some sectors we have noticed the implementation of some new warehouses or some investments because, indeed, between certain supply tensions and transport problems, it is important either to increase stocks or to relocate certain productions.
What are your most recent product innovations?
Our products are constantly being revised and improved, always complying with the strictest international quality standards. Proof of this is that we have a testing laboratory in one of the most important technical universities in Spain (where our production centre and headquarters are located), in which our products are constantly subjected to efficiency tests. And we have recently opened a research centre in another university.
What are the major trends and developments affecting your category and your customers, and how are you responding?
There have always been differences between markets. For example, systems with a higher degree of automation and very advanced systems are seen more in countries where the standard of living is higher, where the cost of labour is higher and where, at the same time, there is more investment capacity. It is also true that this is evolving, because automation is having an explosion towards more and more modular solutions, which means that you can also start with smaller investments and then grow.
It is true that customers increasingly want products with a higher degree of automation, that go higher, that go faster and faster. As a supplier of storage systems, what we have to do is to accompany these automation and robotics companies in their development. That is why it is very important to have close collaboration between the engineering departments of the robotics and automation companies and our own engineering to be able to create storage solutions that support the robotics or automation solutions of the integrators.
Can you tell us about any recent customer contracts and how you helped the customer meet their challenges?
To mention some recent projects, we can highlight the implementation of several conventional storage systems for GKN Automotive or the installation of industrial racking for the new 36m high clad-rack warehouse of one of the most important hardware companies in Spain.
In the United Kingdom, at the end of 2021 we completed the expansion of a Waitrose warehouse, which once again placed its trust in AR Racking to improve its logistics operations.
How does business compare to previous years? What’s your strategy for succeeding in the current climate?
We have closed 2021 with good results, especially considering the difficulties we had. On the one hand, obviously because of Covid-19, as we all know, and on the other, because of a year of a terrible crisis in the steel sector, a crisis in prices and supplies, so we are relatively satisfied with the result achieved, which has been, fundamentally, to be a reliable supplier for our customers.
Raw materials are a very important part of the value of our product, which is why we have been forced to adjust prices. As far as deadlines are concerned, we have made some slight corrections to deadlines, but but we have certainly not broken the service at any time. The truth is that this has been one of the successes of the year 2021, because we know that there have been situations of supply difficulties in our sector.
What’s the latest news from your company?
When we say that we are constantly committed to innovation, it is a principle that we really put into practice. In the second half of last year, we reached an agreement with the University of the Basque Country to set up a research centre. A research centre that sums up to the testing laboratory we have at the University of Mondragon.
We have also recently moved offices in the UK and we are now based in Slough.
Can you tell us about any areas where you’re currently making technical advances?
We are immersed in projects to reduce the use of plastic, cardboard and gas, the use of which we brought to historic lows last year, as well as the implementation of renewable energies, out of social responsibility and for greater energy efficiency and autonomy.
Are you investing in staff training and skills development?
For AR Racking, R&D+I is a differential factor, so it is essential to have a technical area that is at the forefront. Our technicians regularly participate in training programs to stay up to date on the latest advances in structural software, new regulations, etc.
Are you taking part in any major trade shows? Can you tell us what you’ll be exhibiting there?
We have been very cautious all this time about attending major events and international mobility. However, since the end of 2021 we are gradually recovering our presence at trade fairs and this year we will attend the main European trade fairs in Paris, Stuttgart, Madrid and IMHX in Birmingham, to name but a few.