Automation for outdoor adventures

Reliability, functionality and top quality are what fans of extreme sports demand of their equipment. And what Mammut demands of its warehouses. The Swiss outdoor activities brand teamed up with Dematic to set up an automated centralised warehouse in Wolfertschwenden, Germany. Bigger, faster, better is the objective in these boom times for e-commerce.

Partially covered by 18-metre-high black design elements, the exterior of Mammut’s logistics centre is reminiscent of an ancient glacial landscape yet has a futuristic look that hints at the ultra-modern technology inside. In Wolfertschwenden, in the Allgäu region of southern Germany, the Swiss manufacturer of mountain sport apparel and equipment has put its faith in Dematic. “Our company is growing and our logistics operations are growing with it. We need warehouses that can cater to this expansion,” says Chief Supply Chain Officer, Josef Lingg. It’s obvious from his tall, lean appearance that the Swiss likes to spend a lot of time himself in the great outdoors and the mountains – but only when he leaves his Harley-Davidson behind in the garage of course.

"Dematic actively supports us and together we are successfully taking the step from manual to fully automated warehouse."

Josef Lingg

Chief Supply Chain Officer at Mammut

Founded in 1862, the famous Swiss company started out making ropes and was originally called the Lenzburg Rope Works Factory. The Mammut Sports Group now generates annual revenues totalling nearly 250 million Swiss francs. “In 2011 we opted for a warehouse in which automation would optimise the processes. And we opted for Dematic as our partner and consultant,” says Lingg, who has worked for the Mammut Sports Group for 24 years and, as Chief Supply Chain Officer, is responsible for the entire supply chain. This covers everything from the procurement of the materials for the products, which are developed in Switzerland, to global logistics – inbound, warehousing and outbound – and quality control, with a dedicated office in Asia. As a specialist in automation and supply chain optimisation, Dematic took charge of planning and designing the warehouse right from the outset and brought the project to completion in just 17 months.

Carabiners and fleeces in one box

“All the different kinds of products that Dematic and Mammut had to deal with presented the main logistical challenge,” says Christian Graf, who is responsible for sales of Dematic services in Bavaria. “Heavy and hard-wearing products such as carabiners and ropes are combined with clothing and shoes. We have to take the different sizes and weights into consideration and pack the items on top of each other in the right order so that they don’t get damaged.”

In goods inward, the incoming boxes are scanned and then transported to an automated small parts store with 145,000 containers. When an item is ordered, it goes from here to a ‘multi-shuttle’ store, the heart of the facility. This second-generation warehouse system is faster and more economical than its predecessor. The boxes are stored along four aisles and in 20,000 different containers, from where they will later be taken automatically to the picking stations. By the time they arrive at these collection points, the products have been pre-sorted by weight and size. The boxes are then packed and sent automatically to goods outward. Later, in the retail stores, they can be unpacked one after the other in the correct order.

Further growth planned

“We went live with this mammoth project – mammoth like our company name – to mark our 150th anniversary in 2012,” says Josef Lingg. “The partnership has proven its worth. Dematic is not just a supplier but a key strategic partner for the Mammut Sports Group. “Dematic actively supports us and together we are successfully taking the step from manual to fully automated warehouse.”

There is plenty of space for further growth in the years ahead. “The warehouses are already equipped for this,” says Christian Graf. “The ‘RapidStores’, the automated machines that store and retrieve small parts, could be fitted with an additional load handling attachment so that even more boxes can be transported. And the multi-shuttle store is fully flexible too. Currently 48 shuttles are in operation here, and we could of course expand this with additional levels and therefore more shuttles. We could also put in more picking stations.”

For Mammut, being able to expand its warehouses will soon become more important than ever. This is because since autumn 2016 consumers have been able to order products directly from the company’s website, whereas previously Mammut exclusively supplied retail stores.


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