“Back in 2008, KNAPP was not very well recognised on the Scandinavian market. Nowadays all the major players in our industries know us,” he said.

The Swedish company, formerly Moving AB, was acquired in 2008 by KNAPP, which was attracted to the former’s innovative systems and conveyor programme, as well as its Scandinavian customer-base built over a 39-year history.

Thögersen said: “Leading up to the acquisition, Moving had a quite aggressive business plan. In the late ‘90s through 2000s we entered the system integration market and delivered some very large projects, one of the flagships of which was Clas Ohlsson: a £40-£50m installation.

“We had some Class 15 mini-load installations in Scandinavia as well as the UK and one in the US. So we had a period of growth where we became the challenger in the market.”

As KNAPP AB, the company has gone from challenger to established player, providing a crucial role within the group, based on four pillars. It is a production entity for pallet and light-good conveyors; producer in Sweden of designs and solutions for small-medium complexity (SMC) systems; component sales provider; and runs a strong customer service team which promptly supplies spare parts and other services to clients where required.

Though KNAPP AB is responsible for local acquisitions for KNAPP’s large-scale integrated projects, The MD sees SMC work as a crucial part of the business. 

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Quotables

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He said: “We see a gap in the market for these smaller scale, less complex projects: £100,000 to £2m, a field that the really large players are not eager to take projects in. But sometimes it is better to take those. Within the KNAPP group we aim to be a fast-moving, agile, responsive company with very short delivery times to quote and execute this kind of project.

“Delivery time is so important, because customers can get a return on investment quickly, meaning they get better savings. The decision processes within the company are much faster than a few years ago.”    

Market-leading technology

For years, KNAPP AB has set the market standard for conveyor systems, and that it continues to do so is all the more important with the major international players now present in Scandinavia.

The company’s invented pick solution, the OSR shuttle-based technology for storage and retrieval- has revolutionised infralogistics, and proven invaluable to its large customer-bases in the pharma, fashion and e-commerce sectors.

The OSR Shuttle is a high-performance, versatile and reliable semi-automatic picking and storage system that forms the heart of the company’s warehouses. 

It is extremely safe and stable, able to be operated both in earthquake zones and on mezzanines, and is highly energy-efficient, achieving excellent sustainability through optimal adjustment of the control system, low empty weight, brake energy recuperation and efficient handling of all processes via the KiSoft SRC software.  

KNAPP has installed more than 150 such systems, which are compact and help save space in a busy warehouse while allowing for future expansion.

Thögersen explained: “By using OSR as a backbone in the system you can fulfil many different operations, not only picking but also value-added services, dispatch sorting and highly efficient return handling. With this shuttle-based technology, we can simplify the concept and the solution itself. It creates very robust and flexible solutions. 

“For example, if we have a change in order or SKU structure, you don’t have to make any major rearrangements. We could cope with that situation by having one type of technical solution for doing the job. 

“We have evolved this technology over 12 or 13 years and can now really gain on the flexibility and speed of the shuttle to create systems with very low complexity but are at the same time robust.” 

Pharma

Pharma is a sector in which KNAPP particularly excels, establishing itself as a class-leader with its warehousing innovations. It has installations at all the major market players in Scandinavia, and last year installed a picking and handling system for food retailer ICA’s store-in-store pharmacy facilities. 

Also a leader in fashion, ecommerce, and multi-channel business, KNAPP AB’s knowledge and solutions make it well placed to handle larger and integrated projects.

KNAPP AB enjoys an outstanding reputation in retail, serving high-profile clients such as Clas Ohlson, having worked with the hardware chain since 2,000.

Thögersen said: “The installation there is, I think, the largest warehouse in Scandinavia by volume. We have 23 pallet-stacker cranes there, 16 mini-loads and a comprehensive palette and light goods conveyance system. We have a very close relationship, and in partnership have more or less developed their infralogistics.

“We are very also strong in the spare part logistics; serving customers including Mekonomen and ECA.” 

Vision technology

True to form, the company also leads in vision technology, where its approach is to build quality into the process itself, rather than running checks after a task is completed, eliminating error. This technology identifies products in real-time, using barcode or visual recognition, ensuring the correct items are picked. 

Thögersen said: “The A-frame ejects the products to a central belt which transports it to tote, and when the products are dropping in you also have the vision system, which takes pictures in real-time and recognises all the products. So you know the customer’s products are there and can say with 100 percent accuracy that you have the correct product.” 

Staff

This attention to detail and commitment to accuracy is mirrored by the mentality of KNAPP AB’s 70-strong workforce, and instilling an even greater sense of pride in performance has been key to Thögersen’s improvement strategy since his appointment in 2013.

Having gained extensive supply chain experience in various roles, the new MD set to enhancing the working environment and opportunities for KNAPP AB’s 75 staff, applying a style of leadership based on his passion for sports management. 

“It is important to have trust and belief in your employees,” he said. “I have applied an ‘outside-in’ way of thinking where we are driven by and adapt to the market and the customers.”

Customer service has been a focus area, with the service technician personnel increased fivefold and further growth planned. “If things go in the right direction we will double that team in three years,” Thögersen said. 

“In trying to be an agile company, we get very motivated, committed people, and this is something we have improved in the last couple of years. No-one has quit the company in the last year; in fact three or four key people have actually returned.”

As it continues to innovate, motivate and set the standard as a flexible, responsive company, attracting and retaining the industry’s best talent, KNAPP AB can be confident that its ambitious goals are well within reach.

 

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