Case Study


Richter+Frenzel automates with AutoStore™

HÖRMANN Intralogistics

An AutoStore installation at its main logistics center in Germany has enabled building supply company Richter+Frenzel to remain agile in a competitive environment.


Richter+Frenzel is a German wholesaler specializing in plumbing and building supplies. The company was founded in 1895 by Emil Richter and Ernst Frenzel in Nürnberg.

At first, the business specialized in sewer equipment and gas piping, employing only ten people. However, Richter+Frenzel grew rapidly, and by 1936 had branches in four German cities. Unfortunately, of these branches, three were destroyed during World War II.

Despite this setback, the dynamic company resurrected itself. By 1950, Richter+Frenzel had expanded to eight locations, and by 1984, the company had added nine more. By 2007, they started doing business in former East Germany, operating in eight different locations with a total of 700 employees.

Today, Richter+Frenzel’s central logistics center is in Reichertshofen near Ingolstadt, from where supplies are shipped to several branches and thousands of customers. The company currently has over 4,200 employees at 180 locations in Germany and deal with goods from over 1,800 manufacturers in the sector.


AutoStore installed at Reichertshofen facility

It’s in Reichertshofen that Richter+Frenzel installed a fully automated AutoStore system, empowered by Hörmann Logistik, for storing and assembling small parts. The installation started in November 2018, and the system went into operation by the summer of 2019.

“We wanted to create a logistics center for the future,” Anika Korona, former Technical Director at Richter+Frenzel, said at the time.

Hörmann Logistik developed the HiLIS AS warehouse management system used at the facility to manage the container contents and control all picking processes.

The AutoStore system at Richter+Frenzel

  • A total of 45 Robots form part of the Richter+Frenzel system. They have long grippers, with which they dig out the system’s Bins containing ordered items. The Bins are then brought to the surface of the AutoStore aluminum grid and moved to one of the Ports. Fast-moving or popular merchandise naturally stays near the top of the Grid, saving time.
  • There are currently 50,000 Bins in the system. They’re stored in 16 layers inside the Grid, which stands directly on the warehouse floor. Once the Robots have retrieved the correct Bin, any displaced Bins are temporarily stored in nearby locations before another Robot returns the Bin to its original position. Robots return Bins needed for order fulfillment to a spot on the top layer of the grid.
  • The maximum total weight of the Bins is 35kg (77lbs) with a net load of around 30kg (66lbs). Dividers are available so multiple articles can be stored in subdivided Bins. 
  • The warehouse management system combines special orders in batches to generate the maximum possible multi-order rate.
  • To simplify the flow of goods, the team installed workstations on opposite sides of the AutoStore Grid. One side is used for incoming goods, and the other is for outgoing orders.
  • A connected conveyor system with integrated carton unfolders and sealers connects order picking with palletizing and dispatch preparation.

The benefits of AutoStore to Richter+Frenzel

Although installing any automated warehouse management system requires substantial investment from a company, it doesn’t take long for the benefits to outweigh the costs.

At Richter+Frenzel, order picking has become a completely automatic process, and the centralized location for distribution has simplified the ordering process nationwide. AutoStore has also optimized storage space: goods are now packed in layers rather than on shelves or pallets.

“The great advantage of AutoStore is that it offers a very compact storage option because there are standardized modules that also have a very high level of availability,” says Robert Heinz, Manager: AutoStore at Hörmann Logistik. “The reliability level of the system is very high.”

Another benefit is that employees no longer have to do time-consuming manual picking. The system saves on labor and energy costs and can also work around the clock. 

In addition, the picking error rates are significantly lower, which means orders can be dispatched to clients far more quickly. And, as the system can easily be expanded when necessary, Richter+Frenzel is ready for future growth.

“We wanted to create a logistics center for the future.”

Anika Korona
Former Technical Director, Richter+Frenzel

Peter Bimmermann
Managing Director, Germany

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