2019-12-02

Where Christmas magic happens

Whether written on paper using a pencil or pen, or as an online post on a family chat, holiday wish lists are created all over the world in the run-up to Christmas. As the holiday season gets under way, virtual shopping carts on e-commerce platforms start to fill up and the annual stress test for the retail sector’s supply chains begins. To ensure that presents find their way under the Christmas tree in time, Santa Claus needs reliable partners. This is where the assorted brands from KION Group (and others) come in.

Around 15 percent of the retail sector’s annual revenue is generated in November and December alone, while it is even higher at 25 percent for e-commerce. And that figure is set to climb as more than half of Germans for example prefer shopping online without the stress and the crowds and now buy most of their presents on the internet. Over these two months, ‘buy’ buttons will be clicked millions of times every day. Each click sets off a complex intralogistical and logistical process, And at the end of all of this, the items ordered will be delivered exactly where they belong: under the Christmas tree at home.

Seamless processes from purchase to shipping

Preparations start well in advance. Companies go to great lengths to anticipate customer wishes and plan production and inventory so that there is sufficient availability; a mammoth task requiring seamless processes. “When we received those first wish lists via the internet, it was clear that we would need to overhaul our warehousing and supply chain from the ground up,” says S. Claus, CEO of Christmas. He has relied on the KION Group brands for years. With the help of automation and supply chain specialist Dematic, his logistics company has optimized its warehouse capacity over recent years. Everything runs like clockwork now, from warehousing and inhouse goods transport to order picking, packaging and shipping management. “Multi-shuttles, stacker cranes, AGVs made me a little afraid of losing control at the beginning,” says C. Elves, head of material flow and warehouse management for the large distribution center at the North Pole. “But exactly the opposite happened: the Dematic iQ software platform gives me a better overview than I ever had before, even though we now handle far more items than we used to.”

The figures certainly are mind-blowing. In 2018, 330 million packages were delivered across Germany alone in the run up to Christmas. But this year, the German Association of Parcel and Express Logistics estimates the figure will reach 335 million, which works out to 19 million packages a day. “A huge challenge, even for experienced pros like us,” says chief logistics expert R. Red-nosed. The package delivery services are facing the challenge with new, larger distribution centers and innovative ideas for the last mile. “We will be testing the new ‘PackMySleigh’ system for the first time this year,” says a visibly delighted Red-nosed. The system sorts packages into a sensible order and stores them automatically in practical racks, which then only need to be pushed on to the sleigh.

“When we received those first wish lists via the internet, it was clear that we would need to overhaul our warehousing and supply chain from the ground up,” says S. Claus, CEO of Christmas

S. Claus, CEO of Christmas

Flexible little helpers bring maximum joy

The resilience of local retailers is also put to the test in November and December. To deal with the huge stream of goods, extra staff must be hired in many warehouses and they all need additional equipment, of course. This is where Linde Material Handling and STILL make an invaluable contribution by offering suitable industrial trucks on a short-term rental to meet temporary demand. Another area where short-term rentals are often used is in the Christmas tree trade. The majority of the business is conducted over a 3-week period and involves many scheduled deliveries, which is why high-performance trucks and reliable service with zero downtime are essential. Trucks made by the various KION brands also provide strong support in other areas which are key to creating that festive feeling. Some examples include setting up Christmas markets, putting up Christmas trees, attaching Christmas decorations and even helping with the preparations for the Christmas Eve midnight service in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, where STILL trucks transport the pews for the thousands of worshippers on December 24.

The magic in everything

From the first mulled wine with friends at the Christmas market and the ingredients used in baking holiday treats to the Christmas tree and the presents that lie under it on the day – whatever we eat, drink, give, or receive this Christmas has probably been handled by intralogistics products made by KION, including one of the more than 1.5 million industrial trucks worldwide made by Linde MH, STILL and Baoli, or one of the 6,000 automated Dematic warehouse systems installed around the world. It is how the KION Group ensures that dreams come true at Christmas.

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