Dematic opens state-of-the-art HQ
13 June 2017
HSS editor Simon Duddy reports on the opening of the new facility and also hears Dematic talk about key trends in automated warehousing.
The building is in Adderbury, Oxfordshire and features outstanding employee amenities, a dedicated training academy, conference facilities, a 24/7 customer response centre, and a large, live exhibition showroom for demonstrating warehouse automation technology.
John Baysore, president & CEO of Dematic, opened the facility, saying: “These are exciting times for Dematic. The warehouse automation sector is making great strides in developing the technology required to meet the challenges of the omnichannel revolution and Industry 4.0. Automation, artificial intelligence and robotics have pivotal roles to play here and this centre will support creativity, develop knowledge and deliver technical excellence.”
Baysore added that it was important to have a strong presence in the UK, because there was lots of innovation here, due to factors such as grocery delivery catching on faster in the UK than Europe. He added that he was very happy with the engineering talent in the UK. Indeed, one of the reasons the HQ is so highly specified is to help Dramatic attract the very best talent in the field.
A wealth of facilities for staff include The Den for sports and social meetings, a relaxation area complete with pool table, as well as gym, showers and changing rooms.
Technology features heavily throughout the building, particularly in the 23 meeting rooms and within the Academy, where touch screens, interactive boards and video conferencing facilities have been incorporated into the design. Dematic is encouraging its customers to take advantage of the facilities for their own meetings.
Particularly impressive are the planning rooms, where the screens of linked-up laptops are projected to walls, so staff can drag and drop files from laptop to laptop - a great example of collaborative working.
To further enhance customer service, a 24/7 Customer Response Centre has been installed and fully equipped with interactive screens to enable faster response to customers. The customer response team can readily undertake remote problem solving and systems analysis.
With 450 Dematic engineers based at UK customer sites, it is no surprise that uptime and maintenance of throughput is a major concern.
Stuart Stables, MD, Dematic Northern Europe, says: “We offer a guarantee of availability that is agreed with the customer. The main concern is maintaining throughput at critical times, such as Peak.
“To meet this challenge, we invest in predictive maintenance, try to predict order flows and volumes, see where problems could occur, and counteract them. Our system monitoring plays a key role here, and that will be enhanced with the 24/7 Customer Response Centre at the new HQ.”
For Dematic, the intelligence of system is the differentiator.
“You can’t see it but the software is the brains, and we’re talking about predictive analytics and the beginnings of AI,” says Baysore.
More R&D spend is invested in software rather than hardware, for Dematic these days.
One example of software benefits, is the use of a waveless approach to picking. This is a development of wave or batch picking, and is more dynamic, using software to amend pick runs on the fly, so orders can be fast-tracked according to delivery priority.
Baysore says: “Wave picking has its benefits, but you wait for the next wave to kick in. This approach smooths the process out and keeps the picker busy, while also allowing dynamic counting of stock.”
Stuart Stables adds that a key benefit of intelligent software is the customer can reduce the amount of hardware they need.
“Customers used to have physical buffers comprising conveyors etc, now the software serves as the buffer. Smarter software also drives a reduction in maintenance. We can help the client achieve a more favourable cost to performance ratio.
“Another key aspect of the solution is its modularity. For most users, the first solution is not all-singing, all-dancing automation. We can start small with solutions such as RapidPut, and expand it as companies grow. ASOS is one example - we have grown with them, from small beginnings to an online fashion retail behemoth.”
Baysore concluded that Dematic was excited to be part of the larger material handling group, the Kion Group, which bought Dematic last year.
“We’re now part of a full range supplier and we are looking at how we can combine technology to create clever solutions, as well as leveraging synergies of Kion customers.”