A combined physical store and warehouse facility is often called a micro fulfillment center and aligns with ever-changing customer demands. A micro fulfillment center provides flexibility, predictability, and fast deliveries to customers visiting the store and those who prefer to shop online.
In its micro fulfilment center, Peterhans Handerwerkercenter AG store and sell building materials, tools, machines, fittings, fastening equipment and personal protective equipment directly to customers and wholesalers in the building trade. In addition, Peterhans specializes in the assembly and mounting of hardware for industrial and commercial customers and sells household appliances and related goods.
Due to its continuous growth, Peterhans invested in AutoStore and a micro fulfillment center empowered by Element Logic in 2018. Immediately after installation, the system made it possible to meet customer expectations of same-day delivery and a shorter waiting period at the pick-up counters inside the shop.
Increased storage capacity and streamlined picking processes
The AutoStore system delivered by Element Logic drastically increased the storage capacity and streamlined the picking process for Peterhans.
“We can now count on a powerful, automated small-parts warehouse to secure our customers’ expectations regarding quick order fulfillment,” Dieter Egloff, Deputy Managing Director at Peterhans Handerwerkercenter AG, explains
As the ports are located next to the sales counters, customers can watch the orders be processed on-site, enabling a unique customer experience while preparing Peterhans for the changing customer demands.
Dieter Egloff explains the main reasons for choosing an AutoStore solution:
“We examined various logistics facilities in operation and visited reference sites with AutoStore solutions. When we weighed up all the factors, it quickly became clear: An AutoStore solution was on our wish list. The simplicity of the technology, the flexibility of the storage concept, and the output convinced us right from the start.”
The AutoStore system has also greatly benefited the employees: “AutoStore simplifies important warehouse processes and supports our employees considerably in their daily work.”
“The cooperation with Element Logic was very rewarding from the start, and we benefited greatly from their knowledge. Project management was also very smooth and easy. During the building phase, the team was able to implement adjustments according to our wishes quickly. It was a true asset to have Element Logic onboard for our automation project. Our system is a testament to a great partnership,” Egloff says.
How the AutoStore solution and the micro fulfillment center benefits Peterhans
- Fast order fulfillment and same-day delivery are now easier than ever before.
- The AutoStore solution has saved the company 80 percent of the available floor space, making future expansion possible.
- The system has simplified and streamlined several warehouse processes.
- The system supports employees in their daily work, which is now much less labor-intensive than before. The employees no longer need to walk long distances and lift heavy goods.
A micro fulfillment center is an investment in the future
“In the course of a holistic realignment of our logistics, the AutoStore system serves as the central core,” Egloff says.
“With 500,000 items, it is easy to imagine there would be some delivery errors. But with the support of the AutoStore system provided by Element Logic, we can pick items from the system with nearly zero errors.”
It has indeed been an investment for the future, Egloff concludes. “We are continuously strengthening our business through future-oriented investments in digitization and logistics, and we expect to see a return on our investment within five years. The solution also enables us to increase sales with the same number of employees.”
“With the AutoStore solution and a micro fulfilment center, we were able to meet the steady growth and even the rapid increase in online orders due to the pandemic, without additional resources. It was an investment in the future from the very beginning.”
Peterhans and Element Logic worked closely right from the planning phase.
“The main goals were to improve processes and maximize storage capacity in the existing building,” Joachim Kieninger says, Director Strategic Business Development Element Logic Germany.
The AutoStore system at Peterhans – facts and numbers
The micro fulfillment center, now in its third year of operations, can be seen at the warehouse facility. Here is what customers visiting Peterhans can experience:
- An AutoStore grid covering 400 square meters. At this stage, it occupies only 10 percent of the warehouse, which measures 4,000 square meters.
- The system uses the AutoStore 220 millimeter bins and has eight levels for a total of 11,650 bins.
- By subdividing the bins, Peterhans can increase its storage density by placing multiple product lines in one bin.
- Six operator ports move items in and out of storage, and three picking ports are visible to customers awaiting order fulfillment. Additional ports, not visible to customers, pick online shop orders for external deliveries and collections.
- Ten robots glide along the top of the grid. They lift bins containing the required goods, deliver the bins to the workstations, and then restack them.
- An express order, for which there was no prior notification, takes a robot only four minutes to retrieve from the lowest bin level.
- On average, a customer order takes less than two minutes to arrive at the sales counter.