Leading the way

Posted on 8 Jan 2009 by The Manufacturer

We speak with Philip Makowski of Dematic – one of the world’s leading logistics systems providers with operations in five key regions: northern Europe; central Europe; southern Europe; Asia-Pacific and North America

Dematic describes itself as “an enabler of logistics and businesses strategies” through system planning and application. It provides logistics solutions to retail,
wholesale, manufacturing and food and beverage firms, with systems for small, medium and large operations. Over the last year Dematic has had significant orders and completed systems for a large range of companies including Amazon,
Black & Decker, Bosch Rexroth, Cadbury, Coca Cola, Dansk Supermarked Group, Games Workshop, NewEgg.com, Next, PepsiCo, Roche, Siemens, TK Maxx and Zara.

Dematic turns over around 800 million euros per year and has over 3,000 employees spread across the regions in which it operates. The history of the company can be traced back half a century. Furthermore, “in the markets we concentrate on, we are the global leader in logistics systems,” asserts the
company’s marketing manager, Philip Makowski.

The company supplies customer-specific logistics solutions based on modular, standardised subsystems and technologies. Examples of these are automatic storage systems, automated and ergonomic palletising equipment, conveyors and monorails, voice-picking applications and highspeed picking technology. It integrates these technologies, including the software, controls and mechanical components based on the specific logistical requirements of clients.

The solutions are developed to address the specific business and logistics challenges faced by a client, and deliver increased productivity, cost savings and improved accuracy.

“Whatever the challenges are, we will design a client-tailored system using standardised components to address clients’ specific logistics and operational challenges,” said Makowski.

Dematic’s focus is dependent on the regions and individual markets it operates in. For example in the UK, with the retail and food and beverage manufacturing industries being major drivers of the economy, the majority of systems
delivered by Dematic are in these sectors. In places like Germany and China where manufacturing industries are more prominent, the company has delivered more systems for manufacturers.

The drivers for logistics systems can also be very different from country to country as well as from sector to sector, ie the logistical requirements for a manufacturing firm in China will differ considerably from one here in the UK. In
Europe, labour and land costs and ergonomics are among the most important factors to be taken into account when designing a logistical system. In the Far East however, it is factors like accuracy and speed of delivery. “Labour costs are
cheaper in the Far East so systems tend to be more labour intensive over there. In Europe, systems tend to be more highly automated to reduce labour costs, reduce building footprint and improve operator ergonomic,” said Makowski.

“Setting up logistical systems is not simply about making operations as efficient as possible with no expenses spared; you have to deliver a strong return on investment. It’s not enough to have the best technologies, it’s also about understanding the client’s business and being able to integrate the technologies – including the software and controls – into an intelligent optimised solution that addresses all the client’s challenges in the most cost effective way.”

This customer-driven philosophy flows through to solution and technology
development within Dematic. Research and development is based on a
thorough understanding of key market trends and drivers and experience of
the challenges faced by customers in the different industries. This drives the development of new concepts, solutions and technologies that enable these solutions. The success of recent developments such as the Dematic Multishuttle and Dematic’s Full Case Order Assembly solutions is testament to this market-driven development.

The Dematic Multishuttle is a major evolution for automated storage and
retrieval systems, increasing throughput, flexibility and in-built redundancy at a
reduced cost relative to conventional automated storage systems. Handling
cases, totes and trays, a system consists of multiple shuttles servicing multiple
storage levels.

The Roaming version, with one to three shuttles servicing multiple storage
levels, is ideal for low throughput, cost effective storage solutions, such as
manufacturers’ kitting and spare parts operations. The Captive version, with
a shuttle per each level, delivers the highest throughput currently available in
an automated storage system, with up to 500 double cycles per hour per aisle.

The Captive version is key to Dematic’s Full Case Order Assembly solutions – semi or fully-automated order fulfilment solutions that build multi-SKU dispatch units, either pallets or roll cages, specific to customer requirements and with a productivity of up to five times greater than manual systems.

According to Makowski, “the Multishuttle has been very successful. Dematic has now implemented the Multishuttle for a diverse range of companies including Siemens, Bosch Rexroth, and meat producer HK Ruokatalo, with over 1,000 shuttles sold to date. And there is strong interest from many companies in the UK and Europe for solutions integrating the Multishuttle.”

Dematic’s relationship with its clients doesn’t stop at the handover of a system.
“Any mechanised solution needs regular maintenance and servicing to ensure
it runs at its maximum performance. Dematic have a comprehensive after-sales
support infrastructure to support that,” said Makowski.

Each region has a dedicated local service support team for fast responsiveness to
customer service requests. For customers who want to reduce the risk of maintenance and service, Dematic can take on the complete service and maintenance of the system with a resident engineering team.

This is particularly effective for companies that want to maximise system performance and make sure that staff are compliant with the knowledge and experience required to service and use particular equipment.

The firm has onsite resident teams with many customers including BMW,
Sainsbury’s, Carlsberg, Coca Cola, Screwfix and Dairy Crest. Secondly, as companies grow and their logistics operations evolve, Dematic works with them to upgrade their existing systems or implement a new one. “That’s the strength of Dematic; we regularly get repeat business from our customers through the success of the systems we deliver and the strong customer service we provide,” said Makowski.

As Dematic delivers improved productivity and efficiency gains for customers’ logistics operations, more companies are turning to them in these economically challenging times. Companies are looking to become more efficient and reduce costs in order to survive. “Now more than ever, our customers are looking to reduce overall operational costs and enable their logistics to deliver what
their businesses require to compete,” said Makowski.

Makowski reinforces the main company culture within Dematic as customer-driven. “Our culture is all about working closely in partnership with clients. We ensure we have a very clear and thorough understanding our clients’ specific requirements so that our solutions deliver what they need. We work closely with
customers during the implementation phase of a project and on completion of a system to ensure that their system delivers their logistics and business requirements, now and into the future.”