By automating their new Munich fulfillment center, eGrocery provider, Knuspr, have achieved a three times growth in picking productivity, doubled their overall productivity, and reduced their CAPEX investment with our new pay per pick financing model.
About the company: Knuspr is a startup e-grocery brand and part of the Rohlik group based in the Czech Republic. Since opening their first fulfillment center in Munich two years ago, they have seen rapid growth, adding additional fulfillment centers in Munich and launching in Frankfurt. With a same-day delivery service offered between 7:00 - 22:00, six days a week, they provide a selection of more than 12,000 items, with a mix of internationally known brands and fresh local produce from local suppliers.
Since opening their Munich fulfilment center in 2021, Knuspr has seen a steep growth in demand. As a result, they began to evaluate the potential of warehouse automation to improve performance and increase capacity.
But any project would need to be executed with flexibility at its core. As a startup brand in the German market, they didn’t want to commit to large levels of CAPEX investment to handle future volume. They also needed to maintain existing operations during any project, since it was their only fulfillment center in the area. And as an existing site, they couldn’t simply increase their floorspace; they would have to increase capacity without any additional footprint. Density would be key.
And one more thing, speed.
As Knuspr offer a customer promise of three hours from order to delivery as standard, they were looking for a system capable of storing a diverse range of products and with very high-speed picking capabilities.
The Knuspr team started off by evaluating the warehouse tasks where the most work hours were being spent by their team, such as picking, storing, and replenishing stock. This allowed them to identify the processes where warehouse automation could make the biggest impact. As Chief Automation Officer for the Rohlik group, Aleš Malucha explains, this really helped them focus on “selecting the right technology” to achieve their goals. In fact, they evaluated all the warehouse automation technologies “available on the market and which might be suitable for our fast business,” says Mulacha. Since a high picking speed was such a high priority, an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) seemed like an obvious choice for improving productivity in the picking process, while still maintaining a high level of accuracy.
And when they compared the AutoStore system with a shuttle system, there was only one winner. While a shuttle system might help them execute an efficient process, it would offer “less flexibility and scalability” and would need long aisles and considerably more floorspace to achieve the same storage capacity. The AutoStore system’s innovative cube design could help Knuspr significantly increase storage capacity at the existing site, without expanding their floor space. By utilizing space in all directions – up, down, and side-to-side, it conjures up additional storage space that wasn’t there before.
In the end, the AutoStore system was selected because it could meet both day-to-day performance and long-term strategic needs. As Malucha explains, it offered them “stability, by [supporting us in] delivering our customers’ purchases in just a few hours. Secondly, we can scale it up, both in volume, as well as the assortment range that we extend by being in a city.”
After checking reference cases with similar installations, Knuspr selected official AutoStore partner, Element Logic, as their integrations partner for the project. As Element Logic’s Director of Strategic Business Development, Joachim Kieninger, recalls, building up a strong relationship with the project team was crucial, “Aleš and his team wanted to use AutoStore in the best way possible. So, they learned, starting with our first layout, step by step, more and more about [the] functionality of the AutoStore technology. And vice versa. We increasingly understood the vision of the processes Knuspr had in mind.”
Using the AutoStore simulation software, the project team was able to run various scenarios and iterate on their plan. As they were keeping the same floorspace, they knew the storage density would need to be extremely high. As Element Logic highlight, it’s “a very dynamic system with a very high density of Robots on the Grid.”
Knuspr was able to continue with their existing warehouse management software (WMS), since the AutoStore system is highly interoperable and can be integrated with almost any WMS, as well as ERP and similar platforms. In this case, Element Logic simply added an additional software module to the WMS to execute the additional operations in an automated process compared to the old manual flow.
The exciting part of the installation was the need to maintain the existing manual operation during the installation stage. As a result, the installation was planned over two phases:
In phase one, the floor was sectioned into two areas, with one designated for clearing and installing the new system, and the other section continued to operate. In phase two, the areas were reversed, until the full AutoStore installation was ready. This schedule left no room for error, and the strong relationship between customer and integrator helped to smooth the installation process. “It was definitely an advantage that we knew each well by then.” The total project was eight months, but the installation was completed in only three months.
The site now handles 3,000 orders/day. The fulfillment process is essentially the same as before but integrated into the AutoStore system to speed up key tasks. The result has been a big jump in performance and efficiency across the warehouse.
And process improvements aren’t the only benefits. Employee satisfaction has grown as manual labor has been vastly reduced. Goods come to the people, not the other way around; they don’t really need to handle the goods once they’re in the Grid. Picking, restocking, corrections, etc., are all automated. This means team members can really focus on delivering quality.
Team training has also been streamlined as the new process is intuitive and easy to pick up. It takes just “one full hour with intensive training, and one full day” before a new starter can work unsupervised on the floor.
Ultimately, the AutoStore system lets Knuspr be confident in keeping their customer promise of delivering in three hours or less as standard. “The system is always up and running…We can deliver faster…we can pre-pick, and still fulfill the afternoon peak with the help of technology.”
Following the success of this launch, Knuspr plans to open a new fulfillment center later in 2023, with plans to handle double (6,000 order per day) the capacity of the current site. But the flexibility to scale at their pace was a huge plus of the AutoStore system. The modular design allows them to add more capacity when they need it at individual sites, without interrupting operations. To that end, Knuspr hopes to add a second AutoStore system to the Munich site especially for chilled storage later in 2023.
Discover how leading Czech e-grocer Rohlik leveraged warehouse automation in their new Prague fulfillment center to achieve:
flaschenpost SE is a technology-forward retailer revolutionizing Germany’s online grocery market. To help keep its promise of “drinks and groceries delivered in just 120 minutes,” the company implemented a multi-temperature AutoStore micro-fulfillment solution and has another scheduled to open in late 2023.
AutoStore can fit any warehouse or fulfillment center. Make yours the next.