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WITRON Optimally Positioned For E-Commerce Growth

Published on Mar 9 2015 7:52 AM in Features

WITRON Optimally Positioned For E-Commerce Growth

Logistics specialist WITRON has announced it will maintain successful revenue growth, by delivering cost-effective, efficient solutions that go hand in hand with the needs of today’s multi-channel retailer.

Having announced annual revenue growth of some 10 per cent in the past year, Parkstein, Germany-based WITRON is on a stable course for further growth over the coming 12 months. At its annual Press Conference in October, WITRON unveiled a range of new system solutions it intends to roll out in the e-commerce and fresh food sectors, as well as announcing the further expansion of the subsidiary FAS, which develops and produces a wide variety of mechanical elements. “We have great concepts and I am not aware of anyone else who has as advanced concepts as we have,” WITRON founder Walter Winkler explained at the event.

A Year Of Success

Winkler has reason to be confident. WITRON posted revenues of €265 million last year, an increase of ten per cent year-on-year, and the business is forecast to emulate this growth in 2014, based on orders received to date. “The major part of this volume represent projects within retail/trade and distribution, with some 85 per cent,” WITRON chief executive Helmut Prieschenk announced at the press conference. “Some 30 percent of our customers are from the German-speaking area, 25 percent from North America, and 45 percent from other countries across the globe.”

WITRON currently employs some 2,200 people, more than half of them located at the headquarters in Parkstein. “Based on the high demands for WITRON

solutions worldwide, the company looks very positively towards the future,” Prieschenk explained.

Rapid growth is also being seen at WITRON subsidiary FAS (Foerder Anlagen Systeme GmbH), which produces mechanics systems with high flexibility and dynamics for WITRON and employs more than 300 people.

At the end of 2013, FAS almost tripled its production resources in Parkstein, and the business now has an overall production area of 48,000 m2 / 516,668 square feet, specialising in the area of mechanics production.

“This expansion represents another important component for the development of our general contractor approach,” said FAS chief executive Martin Stich. “FAS develops state-of-the-art technology with maximum availability for the 24 hour, 7 days a week business of our customers.”

WITRON’s service subsidiary, WIOSS, which offers leading-edge service and operator models for all systems, industries, and countries, has also seen growth. Following the decision by more and more customers to transfer their system operation completely to WITRON, service revenue already amounts to 25% of revenues, said WIOSS CEO Christian Dietl.

Developing Online Trade

As WITRON achieves some 80 percent of its revenue through working with regular customers, it is clear that the company, over the course of the last year, has identified current and future market requirements and covered them comprehensively with regard to warehouse logistics. The development of new system solutions, as was presented during the press conference is based on the company’s extensive know how, particularly in the areas of retail/trade and (spare-) parts distribution. One of the major topics of interest for WITRON is the growth of online trade, and the resulting logistics challenges that it presents, in both the food and non-food areas.

Within any business, you cannot ignore the emerging trend of e-commerce - neither today nor in the future, as Walter Winkler explained at the press conference. When it comes to e-commerce logistics solutions, “it becomes increasingly evident that it is impossible to gain a lot of money with just manually operated logistics. We think that flexible and automated systems are perfectly suited to clearly increase the profitability of enterprises within the e-commerce business.”

WITRON has developed a number of economically-operable, mechanized solutions for the e-commerce industry, such as the new ‘Order Fulfillment System’ (OFS), an e-commerce picking system for the non-food sector, or the ‘Food Multi Channel’ (FMC)’, a solution strategy that supports different online distribution channels within food retail, and can be used in the dry goods assortment as well as in the fresh food and frozen goods sectors. The actual warehouse management systems behind the e-commerce and multi-channel sectors have to cope with completely new challenges to cover an integrated logistics approach with high optimization potential within the entire supply chain.

OFS For Non-Food E-Commerce

With the OFS solution, WITRON shows that many benefits can be generated for the customer for both current and future market requirements, based on proven solutions; true to the motto ‘Innovation Through Tradition’.

Based on sophisticated methods, the OFS combines existing automated WITRON modules OPS (Order Picking System), used for efficient handling of large article quanities, and CPS (Car Picking System) for the handling of large-volume articles.

“System-controlled order picking, an efficient order consolidation from all logistics areas, integrated packing lines, as well as fully-developed IT functionalities for order consolidation, ensure the supply of the end customer with only one dispatch carton,” Winkler explained. “Moreover, an efficient returns handling is essential for successful e-commerce logistics.” This primary task is executed by WITRON’s solution DPS (Dynamic Picking System), Winkler adds. “Error-free supply, on either the same day or at the very latest on the next day of the online order, grouped to as few packages as possible - the customer accepts nothing else. Errors during the order picking process often mean loss of customers.”

Based on its modular design and its flexibility, OFS also supports start-up companies in the online trade across all stages of a business development.

FMC: An Economical Multi Channel Strategy

The innovative Food Multi Channel concept (FMC) covers a variety of strategies and functionalities to supply all distribution channels in the food retail sector with goods in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The system caters for stores of different sizes, Click & Collect, Drive, ‘dark stores’, pick-up points and home delivery. Part of this strategy is the Drive Darkstore System (DDS); an automated solution for various dynamic distribution points (Drive, ‘dark store’, pick-up point) for pick-up by the customer or the home delivery service of online ordered food. While Drive outlets, dark stores, and pick-up points are largely unknown business models in Germany, these are enjoying great popularity in other European countries and North America.

Box Order System (BOS): Ideal For Fresh Produce

Another module of WITRON’s successful product range in the fresh food area is the patented Box Order System (BOS). This newly-developed solution can also be used for handling beverage crates.

A special feature of the system is that store-friendly picking of totes/tote stacks is undertaken by a newly-developed Box Picking Machine; meaning that both single crates and numerous loads can be fulfilled for each store order. This means that full tote stacks, partial stacks, or single stacks can be retrieved in a flexible way from the storage racking. During the transportation to the next order picking position, these items are consolidated into store-friendly units without any errors.

At the end of its press conference, WITRON emphasized that it is well-positioned for the future, with Winkler noting that the company is currently growing in “all directions: in revenue, in employees, in new industry sectors, and in new countries. E-commerce and multi channel logistics will of course lead to many challenges for us as logistics experts. But we are willing and prepared to face these challenges.”

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