BY PETER BRADLEY, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
AS/RS helps PC
A decade of rapid growth left Scandinavian electronics retailer Komplett
struggling to keep up with orders. But an AS/RS got the operation back online.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SWISSLOG
KOMPLET T MAY NOT BE A NAME THAT RINGS
a bell in North America, but the company is well
known in Scandinavia, where it has become a
leading supplier of PCs, PC components, and
other electronic parts.
The company, which launched its e-commerce
business in 1996, today boasts 675,000 customers,
with all sales conducted over the Web. Its product
line has grown to include more than 10,000 items,
including customer-built PCs. Last year, Komplett
shipped 1. 4 million orders—an average of one
every 23 seconds by its calculations.
That volume, and customers’ expectations of
fast deliveries, puts a great deal of pressure on the
company’s central distribution center, located
near headquarters in Sandefjord, Norway. And the
bigger the company got, the more intense the
pressure grew. As time went on, it became harder
and harder to meet those expectations, says Pål
Vindegg, the company’s chief operating officer.
Part of the problem was capacity, explains
Vindegg, who joined Komplett as logistics director in 2003. After nearly a decade in operation, the
facility was simply running out of storage space.
The other part was productivity—throughput
volume had reached a point where the center’s
manual operations no longer cut it. Clearly, the
company would have to make some changes if it
hoped to keep up with future demand. So a few
years back, Komplett began looking for a way to
increase storage capacity and make its operations
more efficient, Vindegg says.
The company examined—and rejected—
several options. “We looked at making the warehouse
bigger. It was possible to do that, but that would
not solve our efficiency problem—it would just
add more square meters to run around,” Vindegg
says. “We thought about a greenfield project, but
we still needed better tools to work more efficiently. We also looked at mini-loads and cranes, but