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ORDER PICKING – TGW : Leading provider of intralogistics solutions

ORDER PICKING – TGW : Leading provider of intralogistics solutions

As a system integrator, TGW take over planning, production, implementation and maintenance of distribution centres – including everything from mechatronics to control systems and software. TGW’s core industries are fashion and apparel, groceries and industrial and consumer goods, serving international brands from A as in Adidas to Z as in Zalando.

Joel Garbutt
CSO at TGW Northern Europe

The roots of TGW go back to 1969, when Ludwig Szinicz took over a small metalworking shop in Wels, Austria. Today. TGW has subsidiaries in Europe, China and the US and more than 3,800 employees worldwide.

Innovations play an important role at TGW. The company has applied for a total of over 500 patents for its products and solutions so far. It continues to invest in innovation, with a focus on artificial intelligence, software and robotics. These technologies are also the basis for maximum automation of the processes in logistics centres that are most difficult to staff adequately.

Joel Garbutt, CSO at TGW Northern Europe spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.

What products or services does your company offer?

TGW take over planning, production, implementation and maintenance of distribution centres – including everything from mechatronics to control systems and software.

Which industries do your customers operate in?

Fashion & apparel


Industrial and consumer goods

Has your company celebrated any milestones this year?

In the current business year (July 2020/June 2021), the incoming orders broke the one billion euro threshold for the first time in the history of the company. It is expected this will be the case again this year (2021/2022)

Do you have any examples of a project you have recently completed?

We are very proud of the new distribution centre for Urban Outfitters Inc. (URBN) in Peterborough.

Site construction, automation fit out and preparation for go live, have all been managed through and despite the corona pandemic.

Throughout the first months of operation, performing is going well, giving confidence for the future.

The heart of the solution deploys a 6-aisle TGW FlashPick® system specifically chosen for its ability to support the multi-brand requirement in a true omnichannel configuration. FlashPick is a standardised configuration of very high throughput shuttles, lifts and conveyor networks. The solution presents inventory in storage totes to one of the 15 goods-to-person (GTP) stations where the picker transfers product to a single destination tote or shipping carton. This one-to-one ergonomic has the highest possible efficiency and accuracy level. The pick process is identical regardless of whether the order is retail, digital, wholesale or franchise. This flexibility allows URBN to fluctuate the omnichannel mix as required to follow daily demands. This is particularly efficient in supporting the significant peaks seen in the digital order profile.

The core remit of the project was to consolidate the current URBN operations under one roof with an additional requirement for significant future expansion.

How did your company react to the Covid-19 outbreak and consequent lockdowns?

Despite the difficult period, TGW has booked an impressive result. Since June 2020, the company has seen an acceleration in investment in new distribution centres or the expansion of existing ones. In fashion, there was already a shift to more e-commerce, but in grocery, there was a heavy market shift towards online buying.

Over a year on from the start of Covid-19, what lessons has the company and the industry learned from the pandemic?

There’s a strong trend to a higher degree in automation and technology and increasing service levels. Labour shortages will become even more acute.

Do you think some of the trends that began or were accelerated during Covid-19, such as the increase in e-commerce, will become permanent?

It’s unclear whether we will continue to see the increase in online purchasing fueled by the global pandemic or whether we will see consumers return to the shop to touch and feel the products before they buy them. The latter will be the case for luxury items, such as large electronics, high value garments or fine foods. Commodity items that we buy on a daily or weekly basis and that don’t require a second thought, will continue to be bought online in greater and greater volumes. If we look at the distribution center mix today, there is a requirement for omnichannel distribution, handling both traditional retail and e-commerce articles.

At the same time, national distribution centers are becoming scarcer. The demand we’re placing as consumers requires speed. To deliver quickly, you need to be local. These local fulfilment centers are often intelligently located near dense areas of population and perfect for next-day deliveries…but there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all answer.

What products or services will you be introducing in the next year?

We’ll further develop our smart piece picking robot Rovolution. The robot replaces the GTP operator to perform a fully automatic transfer from the inventory tote into the order tote or carton. Rovoloution is especially useful for same SKU consolidation, where it can run overnight. The TGW Rovolution picks from 2 source totes to 2 target totes, allowing for a high rate of picking. The smart software with continuous learning allows the Rovolution to self-correct when errors occur, reducing the amount of manual intervention required. The TGW Rovolution can handle a large and varied range of items, even inflexible and fragile.

In what areas are you making technological advances?

Artificial intelligence, software and robotics.

What training do you provide for your staff?

TGW’s biggest challenge at the moment is finding the right people. We are competing for engineering-based labour, in a large variety of areas.

But is not only important to hire people. You also want to keep them. We have an undergraduate scheme for people coming from universities and colleges so they can gain the necessary work experience. With our apprenticeship programme, we offer people that have finished school and are not going to university the chance to learn a skill and the guarantee of having a job with TGW when they finish the apprenticeship.

What is the company’s commitment to social responsibility?

Entrepreneurial action and social responsibility are inseparably linked at TGW. This is based on the philosophy of TGW founder Ludwig Szinicz, “Focusing on People – Learning and Growing”. TGW meet their social responsibility in three ways, with a comprehensive approach.

Firstly, the statutes of the foundation that owns our company state that TGW must never be sold and will always remain under the foundation’s ownership. Two-thirds of profits are retained and stay in the company. All of this is intended to help TGW act in an environment of lasting stability and offer its employees jobs that are as secure as possible.

Charitable commitment plays an equally relevant role. This combines the active promotion of personal and professional growth as well as making efforts towards being an exemplary and responsible corporate citizen – locally and internationally. Therefore, at least ten percent of the profits earned by TGW Logistics Group are set aside annually by the owner for the charitable projects of Future Wings and CAP.future. These are focussed on educational and technology-driven innovations and on helping the young people involved develop into well-rounded individuals.

As part of its commitment to society, TGW also supports various other charitable initiatives and social projects as well as aid organisation.

What improvements have you made to your customer service recently?

At TGW we are constantly reviewing the service level we provide our customers, old and new. The very foundation of the company is built ‘driving performance’ and ‘lifetime partnerships’ with our customers. We place great value on long-term partnerships with trustworthiness. To this end, TGW strives to improve the customer experience and derive higher levels of performance and efficiency through constant monitoring and system feedback data.

Are you helping customers boost the level of automation in their business?

Yes, that’s our core business. A state-of-the-art distribution center must feature the right degree of automation to ensure that the requirements for quick delivery can be fulfilled and peaks are covered. But the degree of automation and application vary. Companies have different resources and skills at their disposal. That’s why TGW is individually tailoring its solutions to the needs of every customer. The more insight TGW has in historical data, business data and personnel levels, the better they can run a simulation that meets the planned investment and labour needs.

Do you help customers maximise the use of their existing warehouse space?

TGW also works together with its clients to find a cost-effective and high-performance alternative to a new purchase. TGW’s retrofit services include processes, software, control or mechanical systems. They range all the way from individual replacement units, minimal adaptations, modifications and updates to optimisation of processes and even comprehensive extensions of the system.

Will you be investing in your premises over the next 12 months?

TGW is investing about 200 million euros into its locations in the next five years. On the Austrian sites, office buildings for 800 employees and a production hall including a highly automated warehouse with a total area of around 20,000 m² are being built. In addition, an education and development centre is being built.

Will you be exhibiting at any major trade shows in 2022?

LogiMAT 2022 (8-10 March 2022)

What industries do you believe offer your business the most potential over the next year?

Our core focus markets of Fashion, E-grocery and Industrial & Consumer Goods are not an accidental choice. Whilst these sectors suit TGW’s key competencies, experience and solution offering, they are also areas of continued growth both from a retail perspective and e-commerce. Above all, the E-grocery sector is the most exciting but inevitably it may also be the most challenging.

How future proof is your business?

Signs are pointing to further growth. TGW is making massive investments into research and development, infrastructure as well as the education and training of our employees. Because we are set up as a foundation company, we have the security and stability we need to think and act for the long term.

How would you sum up your company in three words?

People, learning and growing.


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The post ORDER PICKING – TGW : Leading provider of intralogistics solutions first appeared on Warehouse & Logistics News.


22 December 2021, 02:34