References / Presseberichte

Automated small parts warehouse increases turnover and customer satisfaction at Tollkühn Shoppartner GmbH

February 2020

(Offenau, Februar 2020) Shorter distances, fewer complaints and more pleasant working conditions: With customised intralogistics, Tollkühn Shoppartner
Tollkühn Shoppartner GmbH remains on course for sustainable success with customised intralogistics. At the centre of the perfected material flow is an AutoStore small parts warehouse, a complete solution
realised as a complete solution by AM-Automation.

“We supply many small retailers.” This is how Stefan Schwarz, Operations Manager, describes the function of wholesaler Tollkühn Shoppartner GmbH. Based in the Lower Saxony municipality of Stuhr on the outskirts of Bremen, the company specialises in the specific product ranges of petrol stations and car dealerships. Tollkühn supplies ice scrapers and engine oils, baby wipes and work gloves, air fresheners and 24-volt coffee machines – in short, every conceivable non-food item that car and lorry drivers need every day. Tollkühn has been on the market for almost 40 years and is one of the leading suppliers in the industry nationwide.

Order picking with potential for error
As a logistics service provider, Tollkühn has also operated traditional warehousing for decades. Both small and large items waited in shelving or pallet racks
They were removed manually piece by piece on request and picked according to individual orders. The staff spent a lot of time putting the products together, and as the range grew, the distances from shelf to shelf became longer and longer.

But that’s not all: “Some of our customers also want us to label the goods with the desired price tag,” says Stefan Schwarz, who in his position is also responsible for the further development of Tollkühn’s logistics concept. In the past, it was also common for there to only be a single delivery note for each customer and delivery, even for several packages – the allocation of the individual items was sometimes quite complicated for the recipient and repeatedly led to complaints. The decision was therefore made to completely overhaul all logistics processes with the close involvement of the internal IT department.

Minimal storage space required
In the search for a simpler – and above all future-proof – solution, Tollkühn Shoppartner came across AM-Automation and the AutoStore concept. Instead of storing small parts in shelving racks, AutoStore relies on an automated system for managing standardised plastic containers, which are housed in large numbers within a modular aluminium structure. For order picking, the bins containing the required items are removed by robots operating on the top of the structure. The AutoStore software keeps track of the location of each individual container and the goods it contains at all times. Instead of manually compiling an order and running from shelf to shelf, AutoStore transports the required items directly to the picking workstation. All in all, this means greater efficiency in intralogistics while minimising storage space requirements

More sales and satisfied customers
“When we got to know AutoStore, we were euphoric on the one hand, but there were also sceptical voices in the company on the other,” recalls the Tollkühn logistics expert. The idea of a “black box”, whose function and inner workings are not immediately obvious, initially made some people uneasy. However, all doubts were dispelled just a few weeks after commissioning: “Thanks to AutoStore, our business works faster and more flexibly than ever before, and the performance of the system was and is quite simply convincing in every respect.”

At the beginning of 2016, Tollkühn Shoppartner GmbH decided in favour of the innovative concept and the collaboration with AM-Automation. Headquartered in Offenau (Baden-Württemberg), AM-Automation is Germany’s leading distributor of AutoStore systems and also develops complete solutions that incorporate all existing and necessary intralogistics requirements. This was also the case for Tollkühn Shoppartner: Within just six months, the specialists from AM-Automation realised a system that can now accommodate up to 13,000 storage containers. However, the beginnings of the project were somewhat bumpy, literally. According to AM-Automation’s specifications, the evenness of the existing warehouse floor was only allowed to deviate from the specifications by a few millimetres – which the customer’s building was not able to fulfil completely. The AutoStore construction therefore had to be preceded by a levelling adjustment.

However: Since the AutoStore system was put into operation at Tollkühn Shoppartner GmbH three years ago, there have been nothing but satisfied faces all round. Networked IT systems make order picking easier, the error rate for individual price labelling is hardly worth mentioning and there is now a separate delivery note for each package.

“AutoStore and the collaboration with AM-Automation have contributed in every respect to increasing customer satisfaction and further expanding our market position,” says a delighted Stefan Schwarz.