Finnish Design Shop grows with AutoStore from Element Logic

Finnish Design Shop, an online retailer of Finnish and Nordic design items, has been flourishing since its beginning in 2004. Now they offer over 300 brands and delivers to over 180 countries as a global leader in online Nordic design retail.

Its latest logistics center, situated in Turku on the southwestern coast of Finland, signifies its expansion. The need for a bigger storage facility led the company to embrace automation. Implementing the AutoStore system marked Element Logic’s first AutoStore project in Finland.

– Finnish Design Shop was the first online business in Finland to deploy AutoStore to develop and expand their business activities. A significant portion of global AutoStore users are e-commerce businesses, and in the Finnish market Finnish Design Shop is a pioneer, says Antti Lumme, Managing Director in Element Logic Finland.

Kalle Karvanen, the Logistics Director at Finnish Design Shop, points out the automation trend, and specifically automation from AutoStore.

– AutoStore solutions have recently become more common globally as well as in Finland. Now, if you look at what kind of systems that are available in the market, you find all kinds of solutions, but it seems AutoStore is becoming more and more a standard, especially in the online retailing of small goods. I have seen all kinds of service providers and solutions during my career, and I can say without any reservations that AutoStore is one of the best, Karvanen states.

Efficient use of storage space

Planning of the logistics center began in May 2020, with the Element Logic contract signed in February 2021. Renowned for its design, the facility was ready by fall 2021, featuring offices, a restaurant, a showroom, and the warehouse.

– When the Element Logic team arrived to assemble the grid, the building had not been finished yet. AutoStore was being installed at the same time as the building was finalized. It took three months overall to get the installation done, Kalle Karvanen recalls.

Covering almost 10,000 square meters with a height of 11,7-meter, the warehouse’s design maximizes space thanks to the investment in AutoStore from Element Logic. Highlighting this, Karvanen states,

– The floor space of our warehouse is approximately 9 800 square meters. AutoStore is an efficient solution that allows for the maximum utilization of the floor space. Other solutions would not be able to even come close, Karvanen says.

The order included the AutoStore system, 15 robots, 20,000 bins, 5 combined inbound/outbound ports, and a conveyor and sorting solution. The storage capacity has been expanded during the first two years of operation with 5,000 new bins. The delivery also included the software eManager developed by Element Logic. Optimized for the site, the solution can process approximately 350 lines every hour. The investment cost was just over 2 million euros.

Ergonomics and workplace safety

The AutoStore system has gathered substantial experience since the implementation Given the scale of the logistics center at Finnish Design Shop, Logistics Director Kalle Karvanen possesses valuable insights about the system.

– From the perspective of our users who deal with AutoStore every day, the operating system provided by Element Logic is easy to use and understand. It is very simple for the user to understand without undergoing days of training. We can get started with productive work quickly, which is important. As we operate in an industry with seasonal and volume fluctuations, we experience personnel turnover as well. And, as we sometimes use temporary workers, the short time needed for training of personnel is especially important, says Karvanen.

Investing in automation can help employees in many ways by improving working conditions. Employees can handle products and orders quickly, safely, and ergonomically.

– One notable issue is safety. AutoStore is a CE-certified solution. Our workstations are at a suitable height. If we had gone for another solution than AutoStore, we would need to pick items more manually among forklifts, which would result in a greater risk of work accidents, Karvanen summarises.

“Honestly, our experiences are very positive”

Element Logic seeks to make the installation, onboarding, and operation of AutoStore as easy as possible. After two years of use, Finnish Design Shop’s experiences with the partnership have been exclusively positive.

– Honestly, our experiences are very positive. Downtimes are short, less than what is specified in our contract, and the system has worked extremely well. I am not a person who would say this if it was not true. We have all been very happy and surprised with how well AutoStore works, how the robots can repair minor defects on their own, and how our employees have been trained by Element Logic.

– Our users can resolve minor issues independently, and even in cases where more major problems have been encountered that we have not been able to solve ourselves, Element has provided valuable and timely support. They have taken initiative in dealing with problems, because they understand that in our line of business there is no time to wait for half a day for someone to solve the issue, says Karvanen.

– We are in a partnership that works well both ways. We know how to propose new solutions or changes to existing operations, and these are always discussed with the customer’s business operations in the forefront, Antti Lumme explains.

The importance of sustainable operations

Sustainability has played an important part in the design of the solutions. The footprint of the entire operation is exceptionally green, especially since the logistics center uses solar panels and geothermal heat to generate energy and heat. The low energy consumption of AutoStore and its long life cycle are an excellent fit with the Finnish Design Shop’s sustainability plan.

– Being sustainable in everything we do is important to us. Only the robots consume energy in an AutoStore solution, making it a very efficient system in terms of energy. Looking at the total carbon footprint, construction, bins, and robots all have their own impact. But, comparing this with the alternative solutions where all our goods would be placed on tall shelves with forklift trucks driving around, we can achieve a lower overall impact with AutoStore, Karvanen estimates.

E-commerce is picking up speed

The objective for Finnish Design Shop is to enhance customer experience by ensuring fast delivery times, even as demand continues to grow.

– With AutoStore we can deliver faster than we used to, improving our customer experience. This is what will set us apart from our competitors, says Karvanen.

Customers frequently highlight the swift delivery times of Finnish Design Shop in their feedback, greatly valuing this aspect. Additionally, the availability of products is a significant advantage. With an extensive range of immediately accessible items housed in their inventory, Finnish Design Shop ensures that customers do not face long waits to receive their products.

Person standing in a warehouse with shelves on each side

A solution-oriented approach

Kalle Karvanen is highly satisfied with the collaboration with Element Logic, particularly impressed by the agility and efficiency of their automation services.

– Whenever we have needed to make changes or implement certain additional features, we have received responses and cost estimates very quickly. This enables us to move our business forward as we get the responses we need for our calculations without having to wait. The Finnish organization of Element Logic works really well. With some other providers, you could throw the ball at them and then wait for three weeks to see if anything is going to happen. Not so with our current partner.

Karvanen also has good things to say about the skills and solution-oriented approach of the Element Logic maintenance crew. He appreciates their efficiency, noting that they avoid unnecessary delays and swiftly provide the necessary solutions. Additionally, he highlights the reliability of the broader organization, emphasizing that when the Finnish branch’s resources are limited, support is readily available from corporate level.

– The system can be maintained one robot at a time and normal operations can be carried out during maintenance. This is an enormous benefit for us, compared to having to wind down the operations during maintenance., Kalle Karvanen concludes.

Facts and figures

  • AutoStore system
  • Element Logic eManager software
  • 15 robots
  • 25,000 bins
  • 5 combined inbound/outbound ports
  • Conveyor system and sorting line
  • Processing speed approximately 350 lines per hour

Want to know more about warehouse automation?

Contact us