What began in 1990 as the first foreign branch of the group, was the springboard to WITRON for further international expansion. The Dutch branch celebrates its 25th anniversary and knows already 25 years how to improve the distribution processes of its customers in North West Europe with outstanding automation concepts. WITRON has proven over the years to be able to execute ground-breaking projects in various industries. You could think of food retail, dairy industry, drugstores, office supplies, household appliances, distributors of electronics components, pharma industry or distributors, technical component distributors and automotive spare parts distributors. Most of times WITRONs customers are the market leaders in their industry. Jack Kuypers (Vice President) is since 2005 responsible for Northwest Europe from the Dutch subsidiary. According to Jack Kuypers there are still many opportunities. Besides the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg. Scandinavia is an increasingly important market because of increasing regulations on ergonomics within the logistic operations. For instance INEX the Finnish service provider and subsidiary of the largest food retailer S-Group from Finland. Where WITRON currently is realizing its largest project in the existence of WITRON.
According to Jack Kuypers with the increasing development on e-commerce and bringing new ideas or strategies in practice, delivery will be more and more important besides price and product quality. Today, logistics is an enabler for future business models – or an obstacle in the negative case. Issues like article range and timing, pricing policy, optimal customer contact, smooth and safe payment management, or customer-friendly return services, are the primary focus when it comes to stationary and, even more so, online retail. But some day, you will end up with the actual physical material handling and the question how to intelligently handle products and it will eventually be a high priority topic!
One particular matter has meanwhile become clear in this context: The physical logistics systems are extremely important and the demand for innovation is higher than ever. An actual continuous end-to-end integration within a future-oriented supply chain requires integrated IT systems that enable the optimal use of dynamics. Rather than repeatedly speculating about benefits, disadvantages, and the co-existence of single components such as cranes, shuttles, etc. it is more exciting for the customer to know if and how he/she can integrate his/her distribution channels in an intelligent and transparent manner. This is unadulterated logistics IT according to Jack Kuypers. A distribution center mutates from a performing unit to an integrated and optimizing element for the entire supply chain – from inbound to outbound, and even outside of a distribution center. This is where we, as business sector and service provider, are asked to offer solutions and deep insight. You can think whatever you want about so-called disruptive innovations such as drones, 3D print, autonomous driving, or “total digitization”, which might also have its shady side. But the changes will continue to move towards this direction. We are just at the beginning of new logistics methods and processes.
However – and this is shown more than clearly through the current developments: whatever paths we take – it will have to pay off at the end of the day. The best and most innovative business model will fail eventually if it is not cost-efficient- “gravity will fix it” is the harsh reality. Of course, there are other important requirements for future solutions such as modularity and scalability, ergonomics, or the much-heralded flexibility – whereas ultimate flexibility ends in arbitrariness. However, nobody can get around sustainable cost-efficiency. Of course, you may take account of the fact that approximately half of the logistics costs of any article occur inside the distribution center and the other half on the “road”. Concerning the “road”, we assume that bundling will prevail rather than atomization. And when looking into the distribution center? Jack Kuypers explains that when he is discussing the integrated solutions OFS (Order Fulfillment System) or FMC (Food Multi-Channel), one point becomes quite clear: the handling of article range, space, and processes will inevitably lead to even more mechanized systems. The decisive factor for these solutions will be to integrate various business models and to offer real synergies. One of the most important benefits of our FMC solution is the use of the entire infrastructure of a distribution center for both major purposes: store supply and online retail. Receiving, high bay warehouses, order picking systems including all upstream and downstream sub-processes, as well as dispatching, will be used for all distribution channels. And such solutions are the basis for sustainable cost-efficiency and successful business models that effectively bear up against the before mentioned “gravity”.