Swisslog looks to strong expansion

Robotics and data-driven automation solution specialist, Swisslog, is celebrating 25 years of leadership in Australia and New Zealand, where it says it continues its expansion into intelligent and future-proof automated technologies to enhance warehousing and distribution efficiency.

The celebrations highlight a series of company milestones and achievements that have seen Swisslog spread its knowledge, skills, and customised automation solutions locally, with strong backing from the global resources of Swisslog, which can trace its roots back to 1900 in the Swiss town of Aarau.

In 1996, Digitron was set up in Australia, and later, in 1999, it was renamed to Swisslog Australia and New Zealand (Swisslog ANZ). In its first year, the company delivered its first high bay installation at Woolworths Minchinbury, NSW. At the time, this was one of the most advanced distribution centres in the world.

“Swisslog’s reputation grew steadily in local markets, as companies started to see the benefits of using automated technologies to enhance warehousing and distribution efficiency. What began with automating particular processes, now extends into fully-automated, data-driven warehouses with the flexibility to adapt to ever-changing circumstances,” says Francis Meier, managing director of Swisslog Australia and New Zealand since 2016.

Swisslog ANZ continues to strongly expand as it introduces new and innovative solutions to local markets, including retail, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, materials handling, logistics and warehousing. A recent win included an order to install the first micro-fulfilment centre (MFC) in Australia, which builds on successful MFC installations globally.

“The new MFC project is an exciting win for Swisslog ANZ. It includes a 24/7 click and collect functionality, and integrates a customised and automation-driven AutoStore solution designed to deliver strong ROI and outstanding flexibility to the customer,” says Meier.

Experienced and collaborative workforce

Swisslog moved its ANZ office to Sydney Olympic Park in 2015, and its workforce has now grown to more than 100 employees locally. Swisslog ANZ is focussed on forging lifetime partnerships with its valued customers, whereby it helps design, install and commission the automation solution – including relevant software – and then provides ongoing maintenance and support to keep everything running at optimal levels.

To ensure knowledge and expertise is shared not only between ANZ colleagues, but within the global Swisslog organisation, Swisslog implemented its OneSwisslog system. OneSwisslog provides all employees with the ability to collaborate and communicate as a connected team with anyone else in the global Swisslog network.

“In many cases, we provide a dedicated on-site System Operations Team, which works collaboratively with the customer’s team to maximise the benefits of the automated system,” says Meier.

“These teams need to have a strong understanding of the customer’s unique system, and they need to be ready to provide creative problem solving solutions that minimise customer downtime and enhance operational performance,” he says.

“Our employees have been a key driver of Swisslog’s success and expansion over the past 25 years. We have a qualified, dedicated and highly knowledgeable local team, and we can draw upon the resources of the global Swisslog network to further extend that knowledge where required.”

Automation experience drives project growth

Since the first Woolworths solution delivered in 1996, Swisslog ANZ developed partnerships with major companies, including household names such as Coca-Cola Amatil, Linfox, Catch, BevChain, Blum, Coles and Jaycar.

“Swisslog also continued to innovate by bringing new technologies to market, designed to further enhance efficiency, reliability and safety of warehousing and distribution operations,” says Meier.

Swisslog automation technologies have been implemented across a range of companies across the ANZ region, where they help to enhance efficiency, productivity, and accuracy of warehousing and distribution operations, as well as fostering flexible growth as operations expand.

Technologies Swisslog has added to its comprehensive suite of automation solutions include:

• ACPaQ – an evolution of the company’s advanced automation technology, which combines robotics solutions for palletising and depalletising with Swisslog’s CycloneCarrier shuttle technology to create a fully automated process that facilitates high throughput and reliable mixed case palletising of orders for logistics, distribution, food and beverage and retail applications.

• PowerStore – a modular pallet shuttle system that enables storage of up to 60% more pallets compared to manual systems. It can also be individually tailored for all shapes and sizes of warehouse buildings.

• AutoStore – a unique and simple solution that uses robots and bins to quickly process small parts orders. It provides optimised use of available space through a unique design that enables direct stacking of bins on top of each other and storage of multiple SKUs in a single bin. Over time, the system naturally learns which products have a higher rotation, storing them on the top layer to deliver faster picking times. Swisslog is the largest integrator of AutoStore systems, globally.

“In addition to these major projects and new technology innovations, which have built Swisslog’s credibility locally, one notable recent achievement was our first fully remote commissioning of an automated solution for our customer, Jaycar,” says Meier.

“Our team, in collaboration with Swisslog’s Technology Centres in Europe, had to work around Covid restrictions, to deliver a project on time and on budget through remote commissioning.”

Jaycar’s functional automated warehouse design is an Australian first, incorporating a 20,000 pallet capacity multi-deep automated pallet store with a fully automated 24,000 tote and carton goods-to-person picking system. The facility also has the capacity to accommodate Jaycar’s further expansion plans.

Embracing an intelligent, automation-driven future

Through all of its milestone projects, as well as the scores of other solutions it has delivered across Australia and New Zealand, Swisslog ANZ consistently strives to utilise automation to enhance safety, efficiency, reliability, and profitability of warehousing, intralogistics and distribution operations.

“One of the great things about digital and data-driven solutions, is that they are constantly recording and analysing data. With the expertise of Swisslog staff, this data can be used to further improve operations, and deliver even greater value to our customers,” says Meier.

“During the pandemic, being able to reduce human contact with goods, and being able to deliver using automated systems has helped companies to remain open, hygienic, and still serve their customer base.

“We don’t know what challenges and opportunities the future will hold, but we’re certain that the built-in flexibility of automated solutions will help our customers adapt swiftly and expertly to any new changes.”