It was a chance encounter with the son of AutoStore founder, Jakob Hatteland, that made co-founder Jonny Skrivarhaug consider investing in AutoStore to keep his growing business, GS Bildeler, competitive.
Fast forward ten years, and GS Bildeler has become the biggest supplier of BMW car parts in Norway, with two AutoStore warehouses in Norway and one with its partner company, KW Parts AB in Sweden.
GS Bildeler was established in 1993 when Skrivarhaug and co-founder, Trond Gule, fearlessly started their own business venture in the little village of Bud in Norway.
“Our big breakthrough came in 1998 after investing in a 256-page catalogue printed in 12.000 copies. This was a greater investment than AutoStore twenty years later if you compare with turnover. Luckily, it turned out to be a good investment, and we increased our turnover from 18 to 32 million NOK that year”, Skrivarhaug says proudly.
Increased efficiency with AutoStore
As a result of the catalogue, GS Bildeler entered the B2B market, and the need for additional warehouse-locations emerged. Thus, within a few years, GS Bildeler gained a presence in five major cities, covering most of Norway.
The first AutoStore warehouse GS Bildeler invested in was delivered at Bud in 2017 by Element Logic. The new warehouse was completed in three months, and the old building is now used to store the larger car parts. In 2020, GS Bildeler expanded and had AutoStore installed in its Oslo-warehouse as well.
After implementing AutoStore in Bud and Oslo, GS Bildeler has achieved great efficiency making it possible to reduce the number of physical warehouse-locations to Bud, Oslo, and Bergen.
“The efficiency we achieved with AutoStore, combined with an improved logistics industry, har made it possible for customers in Stavanger to receive orders faster from our automated Oslo-warehouse than from the manual Stavanger-warehouse”, Gule explains.
Competitive with a tailored Oslo-warehouse
The combination of AutoStore for smaller parts and a manual warehouse for bigger parts has given GS Bildeler the prerequisites to be competitive in its market. Now, customers receive orders within the next working day across all of Norway.
Sales Manager, Øyvind Kollerud, at the Norwegian Element Logic office was challenged during the installation of AutoStore in the Oslo warehouse.
“Due to specific preferences from GS Bildeler we adjusted our sketches on placement and design to assure functional operations between warehouse and store. We also had to adapt to an existing building, resulting in a creative solution fitting the AutoStore-system in-between columns, fuse boxes, gates, and girders on the walls”, explains Kollerud.
Contrary to building a new service-mezzanine, GS Bildeler opted to use the existing loft-space. A custom-made tunnel through the AutoStore-system was also requested.
Altogether this ended up being a massive drawing-job with extreme accuracy on a millimetre-level. However, the result was definitely worth it.
“It was exciting to be challenged by a customer with specific requests and plans for the implementation of AutoStore”, Kollerud says.
The Oslo-warehouse doubles as a retail store where customers can come in and buy their products directly.
To achieve efficiency, a practical pick-in-store solution behind the sales counter is used. This way, AutoStore can pick orders for the in-store customers with practically no waiting time.
The inspiration for this solution came from the Bud-warehouse where employees have to walk over 50 metres to access the picking stations. GS Bildeler expects more in-store customers in its Oslo-warehouse and thus wanted to improve the picking efficiency.
Increased customer and employee satisfaction
The motivation to invest in AutoStore came from a desire to increase quality, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.
“After implementing AutoStore, there have been fewer picking errors, less money spent on rent, as well as more satisfied customers”, Skrivarhaug states.
The warehouse employees are also noticing the benefits of automation. They report improved control of their workload, fewer physical strains, and less stress overall.
“Our employees were skeptical to AutoStore at first, but today we could never make them go back”, Skrivarhaug says.
Room to grow for the future
As proved by GS Bildeler, it is not only huge multinational corporations that can benefit from warehouse-automation.
“There are limits to how much you can expand a warehouse, but with AutoStore, companies get room to grow and a chance to meet the increasing customer demands to service and delivery”, Kollerud explains.
Facts and numbers (Oslo warehouse)
- 1500 m2 storage space (1800 m2 counting office-space)
- 4 employees (3 at the central warehouse)
- 10 AutoStore-robots
- 20.000 storage bins
- Approximately 1000 items picked daily by AutoStore
- 6 carousel ports and 2 conveyor ports used for picking and storage