Case Study


TTI Adapts to Changing Market with High-Density Automation Solution


When supply chain disruptions emerged during the pandemic, electronics distributor TTI needed a plan. They installed AutoStore, a high-density good-to-person (GTP) system that allowed them to increase storage capacity, streamline their fulfillment processes, and continue to grow, without compromising service.

picks per hour
4 million
cubic ft
storage capacity
picking speed improvement

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TTI is a leading distributor of passive, connector, electromechanical, and discrete electronic components used in everything from consumer electronics to automobiles. As part of a 2017 capital improvement program, the company consolidated five warehouses into one centralized Texas facility designed with enough space for an automated fulfillment system to replace its original horizontal carousel system.

As a highly trusted distributor throughout the world, TTI needed a reliable solution to control inventory based on specific customer requirements, such as date codes, lot codes, and manufacturer certifications. The technology also had to be capable of supporting continued heavy demands and business growth.

After evaluating various systems, TTI selected AutoStore, empowered by Swisslog. Installed in 2022, the system provides the storage density, speed, flexibility, and scalability TTI needs to maintain its thriving distribution business.

“There were a lot of factors that influenced our choice of automation technology,” said Hobey Strawn, Vice President, North American Distribution for TTI. “But the driver behind the decision to automate was pretty simple: We needed to maintain our customer experience while we are growing at a tremendous pace.”

Immediate impact

TTI’s planning and due diligence left them well-prepared for the pandemic. At the time, many manufacturers shifted from a just-in-time to just-in-case strategy of stockpiling product to minimize the impact of future disruptions. Meanwhile, demands for electronic components across all industries continued to grow, putting additional pressure on the facility.

AutoStore has enabled TTI to handle its approximately 220,000 SKUs even as it continues to add new product lines. The system has also enhanced their ability to ship a large volume of its orders the same day they are received, including small orders and full pallets from some of the largest industrial manufacturers in the world.

“We want to be able to ship to that customer in Los Angeles just as efficiently as we do the one in New York,” said Strawn.

“Those orders can come down really late at night and we need to be able to process those out. So speed matters, especially these days with the supply chains being what they are.”

A customized ‘pick tunnel’ solution

The AutoStore system is comprised of five modules, including the aluminum-framed storage Grid that can be configured to fit any warehouse layout. TTI’s is designed with a pick tunnel in the Grid’s center, an option that enables large facilities to optimize Robot performance and space efficiency.

In small AutoStore systems where Robot travel time across the Grid isn’t critical, Ports are typically located on the Grid’s perimeter. In high-SKU/high-volume systems like TTI’s, speed and space efficiency are essential.

Located halfway across the system, the tunnel runs underneath the Grid from one end to the other. This strategic placement means Robots only need to travel half the distance, greatly reducing the time it takes to retrieve and deliver Bins.

AutoStore workstations at TTI in Texas
TTI’s AutoStore Grid is designed with a center pick tunnel, an option that enables large facilities to optimize Robot performance and space efficiency.

AutoStore workstations, or Ports, are directly integrated to the storage area, allowing for rapid Bin presentation and 100% order consolidation at any Port. The tunnel enhances throughput by creating more spaces for workstations, increasing the number of available places for workers to process inbound and outbound inventory. TTI’s picking Ports are located on both sides of the tunnel, and putaway Ports on the Grid’s perimeter.

“The design of the AutoStore system provided the density we needed to make maximum use of our space,” said Strawn. “Plus, every operator has access to every part in the system, which is important when you are filling large multi-line orders. AutoStore also gave us the ability to perform order consolidation at the pick station.”

An AutoStore Bin with dividers inside a ConveyorPort

Each of the approximately 135,000, 330-mm Bins is subdividable to accommodate multiple SKUs, providing even more opportunity for order consolidation.

“You can divide those Bins up and have multiple part numbers in the same Bin, which allows you to create even more density within the AutoStore system,” said Aaron Hein, Senior Director of Distribution Operations.


The right partner

Based on a positive experience inside its family of companies, TTI chose Swisslog to integrate the AutoStore system with its SynQ Software. The software provides optimal control over how Robots retrieve Bins, and in how orders are allocated, prioritized, grouped and released.

Despite an aggressive schedule, Swisslog and TTI worked in partnership to ensure the system was implemented on time and on budget, including the successful integration of SynQ and TTI’s Warehouse Management System (WMS).

“SynQ represents the first time in the history of our company that we have used third-party software to operate our warehouse,” said Strawn. “A lot of data that is important to our customers must travel with products through the supply chain and maintaining the integrity of that data required a smooth integration between our system and SynQ. Swisslog did a really good job with the implementation, and we were running production orders exactly when we said we would.”

“Our operators have found the SynQ software easy to use and intuitive,” said Strawn. “We’ve already seen a 50% improvement in our picking speeds compared to our existing goods-to-person system and we plan to improve on that. With AutoStore and SynQ, we can get stock from our suppliers to our customers faster and more efficiently than we could before.”

Employee benefits

A GTP technology, AutoStore brings products to warehouse workers, not the other way around. Having an ergonomic industrial workstation is invaluable for people working within the 74,322-sqm (800,000-sf) TTI facility. All fulfillment tasks, including picking and restocking, are automated and take place within each Port. This allows team members to focus on accurate and efficient processing without the strain of long walks and heavy lifting.

A TTI employee picking goods at an AutoStore workstation

“There's some boxes that range in sizes from a 20-pound box, to a 10-pound box, to a 5-pound box, and you're doing that constantly for six to seven hours a day, and now those parts are all at your waist level,” said Hein.

Moreover, the technology is simple to learn and operate with the intuitive SynQ touchscreen interface. And it’s somewhat of an attraction for those accustomed to TTI’s horizontal carousel fulfillment system, which the AutoStore is gradually replacing.

AutoStore Robots at the TTI distribution center

“We've recently started training more and more employees, getting them comfortable in the process and over a short amount of time, they're already getting the benefit,” said Hein.

“(Employees) want to come over to the AutoStore, they want to get assigned to that zone, which is a good thing because that just builds some momentum as we go forward with the AutoStore system.”


Future plans

TTI will soon expand its AutoStore next to its existing Grid to accommodate new product lines. During this next phase of construction, the company will continue using the existing Grid for storage and fulfillment. AutoStore’s scalable and flexible modular design allows this type of phased construction to occur without any downtime. As Strawn puts it, “it’s the ability to grow our business without having to break down walls or get another warehouse.”

“One of the main reasons we selected AutoStore is its ability to expand and grow as you grow, and do it with next to no interruption,” he said.


  • Higher Density Storage: Automation increased overall storage capacity within the facility to 113,267 cubic meters (4 million cubic feet).  
  • Streamlined Processes: Each operator has access to every product in the AutoStore system, pick speeds have been increased, orders can be consolidated at pick stations, and restocking and picking can happen simultaneously.
  • Employee Well-Being: With the new GTP automation system, products are delivered to employees, reducing walking distances and the lifting strain.
  • Reduced Risk: The automation system delivers high availability by minimizing single point of failure. If a Robot has to be taken offline for service, the system can continue to access all products and serve all pick stations.  
  • Precise Inventory Control: Swisslog’s SynQ software provides precise control of inventory within the AutoStore, enabling TTI to meet customers’ requirements for products based on date codes, country of manufacture, and other factors.
  • Consistent Customer Experience: Delivering an exceptional customer experience has been essential to TTI’s growth. With automation, the company can maintain the customer experience as it grows.
  • Seamless Growth: The easy-to-expand AutoStore system allows TTI to expand storage capacity or throughput in the future without disrupting service to customers.

Project specifications

Installation type: Brownfield
24 ConveyorPorts for picking, 4 ConveyorPorts for putaway
Robots: 60 R5s

“One of the main reasons we selected AutoStore is its ability to expand and grow as you grow, and do it with next to no interruption.”

Hobey Strawn
Vice President, North American Distribution, TTI

“(Employees) want to come over to the AutoStore, they want to get assigned to that zone, which is a good thing because that just builds some momentum as we go forward with the AutoStore system.”

Aaron Hein
Senior Director of Distribution Operations, TTI

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