Interpack Processes and Packaging Trade Fair in Dusseldorf, Germany served as a backdrop for a major announcement that is certain to impact the global supply chain landscape. At the event, the US-headquartered conglomerate, Illinois Tool Works announced the formation of a business unit, which will focus on the global warehousing and supply chain market.
ITW Warehouse Automation will supply fully integrated warehouse automation solutions across the globe. The rising costs of labor and fuel, SKU proliferation, and consolidation are some of the factors forcing consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies to closely look at the optimization of warehouse and supply chain operations.
Today, the ITW Warehouse Automation product portfolio consists of deep lane, ultra high density automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) and Vertique automated case picking solutions. The group will offer integrated automation solutions for "greenfield" sites; however, the team's primary focus will be to offer scalable solutions that are optimized for existing "brownfield" facilities, thus eliminating the need for the construction of new buildings. The combination of warehouse automation solutions with the integrated packaging solutions offered by other ITW companies gives the company a strong value proposition.
"Our move into warehouse automation was driven by the needs of the market. It also fits well with the strategy of many of our CPG clients who are seeking suppliers who can do more", says Bern McPheely, president of Hartness Intl, a global supplier of packaging solutions and an ITW company.
ITW Warehouse Automation will become a part of ITW's Consumer Packaging and Supply Solutions Group, joining global brands such as Hartness, Hi-Cone and Vertique. "Our focus is simple," says Steve Henn, group president of ITW's Consumer Packaging and Supply Chain Solutions group. "We want to increase value to our clients by offering integrated solutions throughout their supply chain. The addition of Vertique to the ITW product portfolio in 2010, the development of a world class AS/RS solution, and the investment in a focused warehouse automation group all demonstrate ITW's commitment to creating a world-class warehouse automation platform. We will also continue to look for opportunities to expand the scope of this group in the future." ITW Warehouse Automation will be headed by Doug Stambaugh.