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The KION Group Has Implemented One of the Biggest Automation Projects in Central Europe in Slovakia

If you pay a visit to the plant of automotive supplier ZKW, you will get a glimpse into the future of warehouse logistics. Because that future is already here in the Slovakian municipality of Krušovce.


Pallet stackers drive through the aisles, pallets are sorted as if by magic, conveyor belts transport small load carriers, and the quality of the products is checked in the middle of it all. One employee per shift is all that is needed to oversee and control the fully automated process.This project has made ZKW something of a pioneer in the region, because fully automated warehouses are not yet widespread in Slovakia.

The Krušovce-based company is a Slovakian specialist in innovative premium lighting systems and electronic components for the automotive industry, and the tasks demanded of the new warehouse system were no less challenging. Quality standards were equally high. It was the perfect job for KION Group subsidiaries STILL and Dematic: Having impressed with their reference projects, they were given the opportunity to develop one of the largest and most complex systems in Slovakia and deliver the turnkey operation.

Complex Requirements—Unique Solution

ZKW was running out of floor space to store and move goods to the production lines. The solution from the KION Group was to automate a new warehouse joining the existing production facility and deliver the correct material to the production line at just the right time. More than 7,000 pallets and 45,000 small load carriers had to be integrated. This meant that a control system needed to be developed for the material flow. The result is a solution that improves safety, frees up floor space for growth of the production system, reduces labor, and increases accuracy

The flow of goods and information was analyzed in order to develop a tailor-made solution for ZKW, which was implemented with the provision of a shelving and platform system as well as fully automated conveyor and storage technologies.

The fully automated process begins with the receipt of materials in the warehouse. This is done either by depalletizing boxes onto a conveyor belt or by transporting loaded pallets onward via a conveyor belt.

All materials pass through a checkpoint to verify whether the packaging complies with requirements.

The goods are then transported onward on conveyor from Dematic. Small load carriers go from here directly into Dematic’s RapidStore Miniload automated storage small parts warehouse. Pallets meanwhile are transported to the transfer points in front of the narrow-aisle shelving by the automated STILL EXV iGo systems pallet stacker.

The entire process is controlled by a Dematic iQ (DiQ) warehouse management system. This system is connected to SAP, communicates online, and thus manages the entire warehouse. “This project was an opportunity to demonstrate the benefits to our customers of working with the KION Group. Our local presence and relationship from STILL was supported by our combined expertise in automation technology from both STILL and Dematic. Together, KION Group leveraged its unique abilities to creatively solve customers’ problems in a pragmatic way”, says Gregg Vandenbosch, Director Special Projects with Dematic.

Turnkey Handover

A project of this scale requires detailed preparation, planning, and commissioning. From the needs analysis and specifications right the way through to the turnkey handover, the two KION brands were at ZKW’s side throughout to develop a tailor-made solution for the new warehouse, including an appropriate control system.

It was important to coordinate all the different trades in this major project, from the developers and architects to the building contractors and fire protection officers.

The turnkey handover meant that the entire project process was easy to plan and we were able to provide the right products for a coherent overall solution.

Tomáš Ličko, Regional Sales Manager at STILL Slovakia

Impressive Result

Peter Belák, Shift Supervisor at ZKW, is also delighted: “The project was delivered very professionally. We particularly appreciated the extensive experience and technical support.” Thanks to the fast response times and comprehensive technical support, KION and its subsidiaries STILL and Dematic have proven to be the ideal partner.

ZKW is impressed by how smoothly the new plant is running, as well as the substantial savings that have been achieved. The error rate has decreased significantly thanks to the fully automated process, while occupational safety has increased. Overall productivity has also improved measurably.