A single source of competitive advantage

A single source of competitive advantage

Productivity within the distribution centre must increase to meet competitive pressures and the demands of the National Living Wage. Steve Richmond, Director of Jungheinrich’s Systems & Projects Division, outlines an elegant ‘single source’ solution.


Businesses across retail and manufacturing are facing a growing challenge to find ways of differentiating their products and market offerings from the competition. Customer service has become the battle ground for winning and retaining sales, and as a consequence, the distribution function is now the focal point of attention and is under increasing pressure to perform.

However, the scope for fulfillment improvement is significant. There is emerging evidence of a performance gap. According to a global study released in October by YouGov, 81% of adults have suffered from an unavailable product in-store in the last twelve months, with 30% of shoppers experiencing in-store stock outs often or very often in the last year. Some 30% of online shoppers have had the same experience. Manufacturing companies too face increasing demands from customers to deliver efficiently and to ever narrowing time windows.

So how should companies address the many complex and critical issues encountered in the fulfillment function and, simultaneously, improve availability and reduce costs?

The problem for many companies is that performing to cost is getting harder – and it’s set to get tougher still. With the introduction next April of a National Living Wage of £7.20 per hour for workers aged over 25, productivity within heavily staffed distribution centres will have to rise in order to maintain a competitive position.

How can businesses gear themselves up for higher levels of customer service, reduce stock-outs and drive up productivity while keeping costs to serve at a minimum?

Automating processes within the warehouse offers a controlled way of improving performance and through Jungheinrich’s integrated approach to intralogistics a complete and scalable solution can be achieved from a single expert source.

All companies have their own set pace of development, requiring different materials handling solutions to suit their needs as they grow. However, continuity and the availability of a wide breadth of expert advice as a business matures from forklift trucks towards higher levels of automation is absolutely critical in ensuring that the most suitable and cost effective solution is found at every stage.

For hand pallet trucks right through to reach trucks and high rack stackers and pickers, a few select forklift truck manufacturers offer a set of options, and when it comes to automated pallet movers, stacker cranes and mini-load systems, warehouse management systems and turnkey projects, then systems integrators are seen as the only option. But what about continuity and an intelligent ‘stepped’ approach along the progressive path to full automation?

There is only one company that offers a complete and comprehensive range of intralogistics solutions from hand pallet trucks through to a fully integrated automated warehouse – including racking – and that is Jungheinrich. Our seamless product portfolio ticks every box.

Jungheinrich’s Systems & Projects Division has been supplying integrated and automated systems for over 30 years and is now one of the largest automation providers globally, offering stacker crane systems with lift heights of over 45 metres and capacities over 7000kg, to mini-load cranes, automated very narrow aisle trucks, automated pallet movers, and conveyors – along with all the integrated warehouse management software and control systems necessary to run a sophisticated fully automated distribution centre.

Underscoring Jungheinrich’s commitment to offering the most comprehensive range of warehouse automation solutions, earlier this year the company acquired the German-owned MIAS Group. MIAS is well known for its range of stacker cranes, automated pallet handlers and sophisticated materials handling technology and employs over 300 staff based at five locations in Germany, Hungary, China, the USA and Italy.

Machines and people

Every intralogistics project needs two ingredients if it is to be successful: well engineered and reliable equipment is one and knowledgable, experienced people is the other.

Jungheinrich’s Systems & Projects Division is highly specialised and employs professionals with a broad range of skill sets to ensure that every aspect of each project is carefully considered so that best practice advice is given and, ultimately, the right solution is specified.

Very often the ability to maximise the warehouse’s potential comes not from the technology used but by the way it is incorporated into the footprint of the warehouse facility and integrated with existing processes. The creative thinking of the equipment supplier’s team is often the key to an optimal intralogistics process.

But the design and build of an intralogistics solution is only phase one of the client/supplier relationship. A strong support network must be in place to ensure that the transition from the implementation process to day-to-day operation is smooth and round-the-clock maintenance and service support should always be only a phone call away.

This Autumn Jungheinrich’s Systems & Projects Division launches its new dedicated website outlining its complete range of warehouse automation solutions – from lifecycle support, logistics software, VNA & systems trucks, racking and storage, to design, planning and implementation – at www.logistics-systems.co.uk.