WITRON increases sales by 15 percent
New solutions, new service models, and digitalization as key drivers for growth
Parkstein, June 29, 2017. - WITRON Logistik + Informatik GmbH, the general contractor from Parkstein generated a revenue of 485 million Euros in 2016. This corresponds to an increase of 15.5 percent compared to the previous year. As the company announced during its last press conference, the number of employees rose to more than 2,800 in 2016. In the past four years, WITRON has added 1,000 new staff members. WITRON’s subsidiary, FAS FörderAnlagen Systeme, continues to grow as well and increased its revenue by 4.5 percent compared to the previous year.
On the road to the digital future
WITRON’s CEO, Helmut Prieschenk, gave a brief insight on how the company is going to shape the future. “The world becomes even more interlinked. This trend is especially noticeable in the logistics area by our customers and within our own company. Information and algorithms play a central role in this area - data is undoubtedly the decisive resource of the future”, says Prieschenk. “However, digitalization may never be achieved for the sake of digitalization itself. Our projects and business models must pay off at the end of the day.” Customers did not order from us because of the key words digitalization or Smart Logistics 4.0. They did so in order to achieve a return on investment (ROI), become more competitive, or with the goal to constantly increase the availability of systems.
It requires a paradigm shift to connect the physical and the digital world - the linear supply chain needs to be transformed into real-time logistics networks. “On the way there, we have to think and act in an “end-to-end” manner”, says Prieschenk. Thanks to a variety of data and information, production, suppliers, intra-logistics, transportation, and consumers are becoming increasingly interlinked. The goal is the overall optimization of the value added network. It requires two decisive features to make this possible: The vertical and horizontal consistency of the “Eco-System Intra-Logistics” as well as the integration of different network parties via standard interfaces. For this purpose, WITRON has created the so-called WITRON 4.0 Portal - an intelligent portal that ensures the optimal connection of WITRON systems to the outside world.
In addition to the integration of these various eco-systems, WITRON has parallely realized a Digital Twin - “WiTwin”. “WiTwin is the digital copy of a physical logistics center and can be used efficiently for numerous activities along the project run time such as design, implementation, and testing, and for the actual operation and service of the system”, explained Prieschenk.
Strong growth in the service sector
WITRON is experiencing very strong growth in its service department. In 2016, the company employed 1,400 staff members in this sector, which is 40 percent more compared to the previous year. Service revenue rose by 30 percent to some 130 million Euros.
“We are currently servicing about 400 customers”, explained Christian Dietl, CEO of WITRON Service. “The major challenge for us is to integrate technology, processes, and people in more and more flexible, dynamic, and automated systems, and by achieving maximum cost-efficiency.” WITRON pursues the strategy to achieve the “optimal benefit of each system as well as the entire warehouse operation while securing the investment at the same time”, and regards itself as a partner over the entire life cycle. For this purpose, the logistics expert relies on a combination of reactive and proactive services in order to be able to act in a highly flexible manner. The company offers technical services, which include the option of being a service provider. WITRON has extensive service and supply chain expertise, especially in the field of retail and distribution. WITRON operates 40 customer sites with local OnSite teams in ten countries. These teams are and permanently located directly at the customers’ sites and integrated into the customer’s processes. This ensures both direct feedback from the operator to the planner and developer as well as shortest reaction times of the service department.
Smart order picking with new solutions
Subsequently, the company founder, Walter Winkler, introduced the latest WITRON developments.
The “All-In-One (AIO)” solution combines the well-proven and matured WITRON modules “Order Picking System (OPS)”, “Dynamic Picking System (DPS)”, and “Order Consolidation Buffer (OCB)” in one integrated system - and thus benefits from the advantages of practically proven order picking systems for all products and distribution channels (store delivery, E-Commerce, Omni-Channel). “We integrate two order picking principles - the static provision for fast movers and the dynamic provision for slow movers, as well as order consolidation into one system”, says Winkler. “Thanks to the integrated order picking and order consolidation in one system, we are able to ensure an unprecedented flexibility for volume fluctuations of full units, cases, and pieces both daily and seasonal - in the long-run.”
The “Efficient Mobile Picking (EMP)” has been developed for logistics centers in the areas of food retail, online retail, and parts distribution business and is used to pick different cases in an efficient manner. “The provision of slow movers in totes and medium-moving products on layer trays offers the customer significant efficiency gains in this area”, says Winkler. “The pick front can be changed individually depending on the current business demands and thus offers maximum flexibility.” The so-called “WiBots” are autonomous and swarm-intelligent picking mobiles developed by WITRON. They support and guide the picker during the entire process and form an overall system with automatic pallet storage and replenishment. This process allows more efficient order picking. The picker can concentrate on order picking and walk directly from one pick position to the next without having to get on or off the picking mobile for short distances. The performance increase is about 30 percent.
WITRON innovations in live operation
The system solutions “Automated Tote Repack (ATR)” and “Optimal Fresh Picking (OFP)” were finally shown in live operation. “ATR is the first system for the fully automated tote filling”, explained WITRON CEO, Martin Stich. “We have developed a unique filling mechanism from the top side, which no longer requires open cartons to be tilted.” This makes WITRON’s classic DPS even more interesting for customers, as the manual repack process is eliminated. Since the products need to be handled only once, the goal of a “One-Touch-Handling” in the entire process is largely achieved with this new solution.
WITRON has developed the OFP module specifically for the requirements of fresh food logistics, which ensures single-unit and full-unit picking in one system. “Here, we can handle a complete order in one system”, says Stich. “The optimized stacking algorithm is determined by the OFP itself, the products are pulled into the tote layer-by-layer through the “carpet method”, and then picked.” The system allows a very high and efficient pick performance of up to 900 units per hour, per outbound shuttle.
Author: Thomas Woehrle, specialized journalist, Karlsruhe
WITRON Logistik + Informatik GmbH, founded in 1971 (headquarters Parkstein, Bavaria, Germany), designs and realizes customized logistics and material flow systems that generate sustainable competitive advantages for their clients. WITRON has all the decisive key elements of a successful project under one roof: logistics design, information and control technology, mechanics design and production, as well as functional responsibility as general contractor for logistics.
The WITRON Corporate Group has some 3,000 employees worldwide. The annual turnover in 2016 amounted to 485 million Euros. Other WITRON branches are located in Rimpar (Germany), Arlington Heights/Illinois (USA), Toronto (Canada), Venray (The Netherlands), Stoke-on-Trent (UK), Madrid (Spain), Strasbourg (France), and Singapore.