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Back at the turn of the century, Florian Teuteberg (now CEO), Oliver Herren (CIO) and Marcel Dobler (who left in 2012) assembled gamer PCs for their friends – and that was the beginning of their company, Digitec. On 8 May 2001, digitec.ch went live and they moved into a small office in Zurich.
With an expanding product range and growing demand, the requirement for storage space increased. In 2007, they found a former steel mill in Wohlen, from where the company has gradually expanded to cover 70,000m2 of warehousing space.
Digitec launched sister shop Galaxus five years later and this enabled them to add many product lines to their core range. In 2017-18 the company became Switzerland’s number one electronics retailer and now the two online shops have over three million products to choose from, supported by 11 physical stores.
Safety and performance
The company’s expansion led to logistical challenges, as Martin Ballus, Leader Projects Operations at Digitec Galaxus recalls: “As we continued to grow, the number of SKUs (stock keeping units) was increasing by 30% per annum. And the output of items was growing by the same percentage.”
In 2016, the warehousing system was almost fully manual and it couldn’t be expanded due to the physical footprint available. This led to the first project with Vanderlande and the QUICKSTORE MINILOAD automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) going live in 2018.
Leader Process Engineering, Philippe Marty, joined the company at that time: “The original plan was to have an extendable system, but the additional developments had been insufficient to cope with the massive increase in business.
“We made it clear from the outset of the second project with Vanderlande that we wanted to maximise performance. In addition, safety was a priority, and we needed to have easy access to the conveyor belt system for any maintenance and repair work.”
The second project also had to integrate with the two existing types of storage, which was challenging in terms of consolidation: the manual process incorporating the “pick tower” over three levels; and Vanderlande’s MINILOAD system.
High-capacity, ergonomic solution
“It was also clear that Vanderlande would be the best option,” continues Philippe. “Firstly, it made sense to work with the same supplier. In addition, we already had the existing software and warehouse management system that we could extend, rather than bringing in a new solution. And finally, we didn’t have time to find an alternative supplier, because of the tight two-year lead time.”
Vanderlande’s QUICKSTORE MICROSHUTTLE AS/RS not only satisfied the requirement for a higher capacity of up to 70,000 parcels per day with 180,000 storage locations, but also facilitated an ergonomic solution for picking and carrying out maintenance. Furthermore, Digitec Galaxus was able to maintain its desired high-quality and on-time deliveries, due to Vanderlande’s short implementation schedule and understanding of the complexity of the 55,000m2 facility.
Proven and reliable system
The MICROSHUTTLE system went live before the deadline in March 2020. “We were able to deliver the go-live two weeks earlier than originally planned, which was a great success,” highlights Philippe.
This happened just before COVID-19 hit Switzerland and the company had to react quickly. “We had to forget about our intended approach, because we needed to meet the surge in demand,” he recalls. “There were 170,000 orders in the system and we had only handled a maximum of 40,000 prior to that.
“The system performed very well. The availability was high – and still is – and without it we wouldn’t have been able to meet demand during the first lockdown and the peak Christmas period.”
The MICROSHUTTLE has resulted in a larger and more efficient storage solution for Digitec Galaxus. “We appreciate the experience and expertise of Vanderlande’s team, and their long-term continuity,” says Martin. “They have been of huge benefit to our operation and are undoubtedly a strong partner.”
Digitec Galaxus is proud to be the number one e-commerce company in Switzerland for general merchandise. “We have a large assortment of goods on sale at a reasonable price,” concludes Martin. “Our customers can place their orders with a late cut-off time of up to 9pm – and still have them delivered the next day. And this is only possible with the reliable and proven systems we have in place.”