Over the past two years since inaugurating their initial fulfillment center in Munich, they have experienced a significant growth, which includes the establishment of additional fulfillment centers in Munich and the launch of their services in Frankfurt. Operating six days a week with same-day delivery available from 07:00 to 22:00, they offer a diverse selection of over 12,000 items, featuring a blend of globally recognized brands and fresh locally sourced products from local suppliers.
Ready for automation, meeting the demand as they expand their operations.
After launching their Munich fulfillment center in 2021, Knuspr experienced a sharp uptick in demand. Consequently, they initiated an assessment of warehouse automation’s potential to enhance efficiency and expand their capacity.
As a startup brand in the German market, they needed to maintain existing operations during any project, since it was their only fulfillment center in the area. As an established facility, expanding their floor space was not a feasible option. Instead, they needed to boost capacity without expanding their physical footprint. The swift installation of a high-density system was a crucial factor in achieving this goal.
As Knuspr offers a customer promise of three hours from order to delivery as standard, they were looking for a system capable of storing a diverse range of products, and with very high-speed picking capabilities.
Selecting the right automation
The Knuspr team initiated their assessment by identifying the warehouse tasks that consumed the most labor hours, including picking, storage, and stock replenishment. This strategic approach enabled them to pinpoint the processes where warehouse automation could yield the most significant benefits. As Chief Automation Officer for the Rohlik group, Aleš Malucha explains, this really helped them focus on “selecting the right technology” to achieve their goals. In fact, they evaluated all the warehouse automation technologies “available on the market and which might be suitable for our fast business,” says Mulacha. Given the importance of achieving a high picking speed, the implementation of an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) was a clear and logical choice to enhance productivity in the picking process while ensuring precision.
When they compared the AutoStore system with a shuttle system, there was only one winner. While a shuttle system could potentially streamline their operations, it would offer reduced flexibility and scalability. Additionally, it would require longer aisles and a significantly larger floor area to attain the same storage capacity. In contrast, the innovative cube design of the AutoStore system presented an opportunity for Knuspr to substantially boost their storage capacity within the existing space, all without the need for expansion. By efficiently utilizing space in every direction – vertically, horizontally, and depth-wise – it effectively taps into additional storage space that had previously gone untapped.
The AutoStore system by Element Logic was selected because it could meet both day-to-day performance and long-term strategic needs. As Malucha explains, “it offered us stability, by supporting us in delivering our customers’ purchases in just a few hours. Secondly, we can scale it up, both in volume, as well as the assortment range that we extend by being in a city.”
Bringing the solution to life
After checking reference cases with similar installations, Knuspr selected Element Logic as their integrations partner for the project. As Element Logic’s Director of Strategic Business Development, Joachim Kieninger, recalls, building up a strong relationship with the project team was crucial, “Aleš and his team wanted to use AutoStore in the best way possible. So, they learned, starting with our first layout, step by step, more and more about the functionality of the AutoStore technology. And vice versa. We increasingly understood the vision of the processes Knuspr had in mind.”
No room for error
Knuspr seamlessly retained their existing warehouse management software (WMS) because of the AutoStore system’s strong interoperability, allowing integration with nearly any WMS, as well as ERP and similar platforms. In this instance, Element Logic simply augmented the WMS with an additional software module to enable automated operations compared to the previous manual workflow.
The installation was organized into two distinct phases. During the initial phase, the floor was partitioned into two areas: one for the clearance and installation of the new system, while the other continued to handle day-to-day orders seamlessly.
Subsequently, in the second phase, the roles of these areas were reversed until the complete AutoStore installation was finalized. This tight schedule left little margin for error, and the robust partnership with the customer played a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth progress of the installation. As one team member remarked, ‘It was definitely advantageous that we had a well-established working relationship by then.’ Although the entire project spanned eight months, the installation phase itself was successfully accomplished in just three months.
Delivering faster than ever.
The site now handles 3,000 orders per day. With doubled overall warehouse productivity compared to the old manual operation and tripled efficiency of the picking process since going live, the implementation has been a success.
Enhancements in processes are not the only advantage; there has also been a notable increase in employee satisfaction as manual labor has seen a significant reduction. Instead of people going to retrieve goods, the goods are brought to them, and once they are placed within the grid, they require minimal human intervention. Tasks such as picking, restocking, and corrections have all been automated, allowing team members to concentrate their efforts on delivering high-quality work.
Team training has also been streamlined as the new process is intuitive and easy to pick up. It takes just “one full hour with intensive training, and one full day” before a new employee can work unsupervised on the floor.
The AutoStore system empowers Knuspr with the assurance of consistently fulfilling their customer commitment of delivering within three hours or less as their standard practice. The system operates continuously, enabling them to provide quicker deliveries. They can pre-pick orders and still efficiently handle the afternoon peak thanks to the technology’s support.
Moving into the future
Knuspr is preparing to open a new fulfillment center in late 2023, with the ambition of managing double the current capacity, equivalent to 6,000 orders per day. One significant advantage of the AutoStore system is its flexibility to scale at their own pace. Its modular design permits the addition of more capacity as needed at individual sites, all without disrupting ongoing operations. As part of this expansion strategy, Knuspr aims to introduce a second system to the Munich facility, specifically dedicated to chilled storage.
Installation type: Existing site
Time to market: 8 months
Installation time: 3 months