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Logistics Solutions provider Dematic Group looks to the future with optimism

Stable order inflow despite continuing challenging market environment. Ongoing projects progressing positively. Innovations being driven by investments in Research & Development. Dematic entering new markets and expanding range of services.

Economically well positioned, even in difficult times
As an internationally active group, Dematic’s past business year was also marked by the global economic and financial crisis. Nevertheless, developments were better than expected: "We succeeded in achieving a result that, in view of the difficult market environment, we can be absolutely satisfied with. We only suffered slight setbacks, says CFO Claus Mai. "Thanks to a balanced distribution of business sectors across numerous regions and markets, Dematic is resistant to currency fluctuations and has the necessary volume flexibility. In these unstable economic conditions, both aspects are particularly beneficial." Moreover, the group is debt-free, has a rather stable position and was profitable in the first five months of the business year.

Investment backlog slowly easing
In this new business year there is evidence of the first positive trends. Whereas the investment climate continues to be hesitant and projects in the pipeline are taking longer to reach decision maturity than in the past, "The investment backlog is gradually easing and we are looking to the future with optimism", says Mai. "Our orders in hand and the number of potential ones currently being processed, plus our service activities and our commitment in growth markets such as Russia and China, are providing a solid foundation for the coming years."

Investing in innovations
As a platform for further growth Dematic is increasing its investment in Research & Development. "Right now we are challenged to consistently come up with innovations", says Mai. Consequently, the group is focusing sharply on developing new technologies and products. According to Mai: "This is what significantly differentiates us from the competition. In our innovation driven sector, levels of investment for new developments are high. In the present situation, not all market players will be able to sustain those levels."

An example of a recent and successfully rolled-out market solution is the SAP-based warehouse management software SAP EWM MFS – a major advance in warehouse logistics. As a worldwide first, Dematic has equipped Switzerland’s SFS unimarket AG with this Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM) and Material Flow System (SAP MFS). In the central warehouse of this supplier of fasteners, tools and hinge technology, complex automated storage systems and processes can now be controlled directly using the standardized SAP EWM MFS software.

Dematic also sees significant innovation potential in the order picking sector. Ever smaller quantities are being shipped at ever higher frequencies, which is increasing the logistics cost per item. In this situation, efficient solutions in Order Assembly and Split Case Picking are in demand. Not only is the performance of the automated storage concepts important, so is the intelligent linkage and design of the picking stations to ensure fast and error-free processing of the individual orders. Material provisioning on the "goods to man" principle, ergonomic work stations and the use of light or voice based shuttle control systems are important aspects in this regard. Dematic will soon be presenting an innovation in the sector of Split Case Picking for the food trade and related branches, which will allow faster and more economical order picking.

Successful international projects
In addition to these innovations, other ongoing projects involving the intralogistics specialists are also progressing positively. For example, Dematic is currently implementing a logistics system for the new Tesco distribution center in Teesport, Middlesborough, England. With this integrated solution, the biggest supermarket chain in Great Britain plans to organize the storage and turnaround of its imported goods more efficiently. Dematic is also active on behalf of Denmark’s biggest retail group. The Dansk Supermarked Gruppe is relying on the Dematic Order Assembly System to integrate its work flows, reduce logistics costs and deliver tailor-made supplies to its outlets.

Further north, Scandinavia’s leading electronics retailer, Elgiganten, is experiencing strong growth, thanks in particular to its e-business. Responding to demand, the central warehouse in Sweden’s Jönköbing is being equipped with an automated pick and pack solution particularly suited to processing small orders. Dematic is handling that assignment with the same level of integrity shown while modernizing the conveying and control technology of the 16 biggest mail sorting offices of the Deutsche Post. This complex major project, in which Dematic is also coordinating several different suppliers, is being realized without disturbing operations and will be completed in 2012.

Already fully operational is the new supply chain model of Coca-Cola Amatil in Australia. At the heart of this concept, which received the Manufacturing Logistics Award at the end of last year, is a new distribution center. Used for the first time, Dematic supplied a new order picking system that has allowed Coca-Cola Amatil to significantly increase its productivity.

And, on behalf of Zimmer Holding, leading supplier of orthopaedic implants, Dematic, acting as general contractor for the intralogistics, realized the world’s biggest Multishuttle installation. Here, an intelligent solutions concept with fully automated, transparent material flows provides zero-error picking and on-time order consolidation, for the reliable supply of central operation theaters.

In both present and future projects, Dematic depends equally on its innovative strengths, consultancy and solutions competence. One example of the technologically pioneering role played by the group is the Multishuttle, rolled-out three years ago. In the meantime, over one thousand units of this compact storage/retrieval system have been delivered across the globe where they have permanently changed the face of the automated small parts warehousing segment. Says CFO Claus Mai: "This success highlights what is important and what we are continuing to work on: supporting our customers to the best of our ability with a mix consisting of innovative product and systems solutions, based on superior planning and project competence. We are confident that Dematic will be able to continue expanding its market position in the current business year. We will support this goal by further developing our innovations in the course of this year."

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