Warehouse & Distribution / 02 December 2013

Ensuring reliable intralogistic processes

Machine malfunctions and breakdown can cause long downtimes, especially in intralogistics, causing production and delivery coming to a complete halt. High-quality systems can prevent these costly consequences beforehand, however, ongoing maintenance and service is still required - such as sortation and distribution system at airports or in logistic centres. BEUMER Group Customer Support has experts on board world-wide who take care of this and ensure a high level of system availability.

The sustainable and reliable high-capacity sortation and distribution systems of BEUMER Group are used for a variety of goods such as postal items, textiles, drugstore articles as well as baggage sortation at airports. BEUMER develops system solutions that can be tailored to meet the various needs of their customers. "Installing the systems and putting them into operation, is only the beginning of the process", says Kornelius Thimm, head of the Customer Support for BEUMER since summer 2012. For him and his team the real work starts now, as the demands on modern sortation and distribution systems are constantly increasing and as the material distribution technology becomes more complex, systems are required to be more flexible to handle different tasks or be able to adapt to changing local conditions. "A recent example is the mail-order business, which offers the supply of products that until now were difficult to convey", explains Thimm.

Comprehensive Service

BEUMER Customer Support offers customised service agreements. "In principle, those agreements are specially designed to meet the individual requirements of our customers", explains Thimm. "The service schedules as well as the reaction times are agreed upon in the contract." The agreements can range from only maintenance and inspection to a long-term placement of service personnel on site. The Residential Service includes technical support, preventive maintenance and inspection, emergency plans, system and process analyses and optimisation as well as spare parts and facility management. Under these agreements, service technicians who are responsible for the support and the preventive maintenance of all material handling systems can be stationed on site. The agreement can also state that Customer Support can set up the systems as soon as new sorter technologies and software controls are introduced. "Our goal is to further improve trouble-free processes in order to guarantee value added material flow", explains Thimm. "We don't just want to repair the errors, but actively support the customers to meet future capacity and technology requirements". As the mechanism of the sorters can become worn out over the years, the employees have to react immediately when the first signs arise to prevent unnecessary consequential damages.

More than Just Service

For the BEUMER Group, Customer Support is more than just a service. Customer Support is a separate department independent of the conveying and loading technology, palletising and packaging technology and sortation and distribution systems. "It's basically a company within the company", explains Thimm. "We have our own Sales Department, so that we can implement projects independently." The goal is to support the customer for even better results. The head of Customer Support identifies a pronounced trend: There are still customers who invest in their own skilled maintenance personnel, however, more and more companies want to delegate this responsibility. BEUMER Group employees take on the responsibility for operating times, performance and economic efficiency of the systems and are trained regularly to stay up-to-date with the latest technology, so customers can concentrate on their core business.

If the customer wishes to use his own maintenance personnel, Customer Support can provide training to bring machine operators up-to-date and introduce new employees to the systems. This ensures maximum operating time for the systems. Training is required for the initial installation, as well as a follow-up several months after the system has been running. At this time, the customer has the opportunity to ask questions related to their specific needs. "The training programmes are tailor-made for the customer and their systems", Thimm explains. In the event there is a system downtime that the customer is unable to correct on his own, qualified Customer Support technicians offer around-the-clock telephone support every day of the year worldwide, reducing downtime to a minimum. The Hotline technicians perform remote analyses, indicate corrective measures and offer quick and reliable solutions to correct any malfunction. The systems can be put quickly back in service. Additionally, we will also find the cause for the malfunction preventing it from happening again.

Successful Project Conclusion

In 2009, Crisplant, leading supplier for automated sortation technology, joined BEUMER Group. Experiences and competence of both Crisplant and BEUMER ensure the availability of efficient and reliable sortation systems as well as baggage and material handling systems. These are used world-wide by well-known brands in every major industry, from apparel and airports to postal and e-commerce. The expanding apparel and home textiles retailer Best & Less in Australia relies on automation technology in its new distribution centre. A crucial point was represented by low operational costs, so the company decided to rely on the Cross-Belt-Sorter LS-4000 CB with linear synchronous motor of Crisplant. This one is particularly characterised by its low energy consumption. The NIKE China Logistics Center (CLC) in Taicang, Jinagsu is the largest distribution centre of sporting goods manufacturer in Asia. All of the clothes and shoe consignments for the Chinese mainland are handled in this 200,000 square metres large plant. For NIKE it was very important to meet the global commitment for sustainability and environmental protection. Therefore, corresponding high-speed sortation systems of Crisplant were installed.

The Hermes logistics centre in Langenhagen is a central hub for Hermes Logistik Gruppe Deutschland. Over 40 million shipments are processed here each year. As a result, particularly high demands were placed on sortation. BEUMER supplied and installed the system as the general contractor and system integrator. The system consists of two parcel sorters of the BEUMER Sorter BS 25 E-Tray. This patented E-Tray sorter is a standard system from the BEUMER sorter modules with motor-driven tilting devices. Using the integrated switch function, the tilting device allows for two-dimensional, guided item discharge on both sides of the sorter.

Chronopost International in France decided to modernise its existing distribution centre and install BEUMER Belt Tray Sorters for sortation of national and international express goods in an efficient and gentle way at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. In total, three of these high-speed sortation systems with a total sorter length of 720 meters are being used. These Belt Tray Sorters, having a belt width of 1,400 mm, are the widest BEUMER has ever installed. At Peking Airport BEUMER installed four tilt tray sorters type BEUMER Sorter BS60 E. On an overall length of 1.6 kilometres, these sorters ensure that the baggage reaches the place where it is needed with as little noise, maintenance and errors as possible. This marked addition to capacity has made Peking Airport a major international hub.

Speaking the Same Language

BEUMER sets high standard for their Customer Support employees. When systems are installed and used in other countries, BEUMER believes that the customer should have access to a Customer Support technician that originates from the same cultural area and speaks the same language. "For this reason we cannot just send colleagues from Beckum to Africa, Brazil or China", says Thimm. Successful customer support requires an understanding of the mentality of the customer. How is the customer positioned? What are their goals and how do they want to develop in the future? These questions require tactfulness and cultural know-how. BEUMER Group is a global company and capable of meeting this challenge. If required, Customer Support will send employees to the customer who are ready to stay permanently on site. By providing this service the manufacturer notes: BEUMER is not just dropping by for one or two days to do the basic maintenance work. The goal is long-term support.

All of the systems used by the customer need to be complementary. Therefore Residential Service does not refer only to the own systems but also to those of third-party suppliers which include single roller conveyors, further sorters as well as automatic high-rack warehouses. "Of course, we know our competitors and their differences", points out Thimm. If we talk about products that are not part of the BEUMER Group portfolio, Customer Support assumes the function of a general maintenance department: "In case of malfunctions, we correct them and carry out the maintenance work as indicated by the third-party supplier".

About the Author


BEUMER Group is an international manufacturing leader in intralogistics in the fields of conveying, loading, palletising, packaging, sortation and distribution technology.

Together with Crisplant a/s and Enexco Teknologies India Limited, BEUMER Group employs about 3,700 people and achieves an annual turnover of about 512 million EUR.

With its subsidiaries and sales agencies, BEUMER Group is present in many industries worldwide.

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