AutoStore sees the future of warehousing, and aluminium is part of it
AutoStore’s objective is to marry software and hardware with human abilities to shape the future of warehousing. Aluminium is the perfect material for their systems. This is where Hydro comes in.
It all started in the 1990s, when the Norwegian company Hatteland Group built a large warehouse to store the electronic components it sold in Northern Europe. With its shelves filling quickly to capacity, technical director Ingvar Hognaland got an idea: Why do we store things like dominoes, when we could store them like a Rubik’s cube?
That became the birth of cube storage automation, a system that became so successful it eventually turned into a product in itself, and in 1996, AutoStore was established.
Since then, AutoStore has installed over 900 systems – encompassing 35,000 robots in 45 countries – in scores of industries ranging from wholesalers to e-trade companies. Its systems provide customers with the speed, precision, and reliability they need to handle the fast-paced, omnichannel digital economy. All its sales are designed, installed, serviced and made by a partner network of logistics system integrators.
The tracks and columns in the systems are similar to Lego blocks. They are completely standard, but they can be combined in a near infinite number of assemblies.
And aluminium is an integral material used in all of them.
Aluminium is the perfect material
"Aluminium is necessary for structural stiffness, a strong and light construction. And since aluminium is easy to recycle, it is a very sustainable material. This makes it the perfect material for our systems," says Israel Losada Salvador, AutoStore’s chief operating officer.
“Our system has high requirements and tolerances to meet, and aluminium is easy to fabricate with machining and extrusion. In addition, its light weight allows us to install it on brownfield buildings without the need to do big modifications to the floor, only leveling, and using only lifts, with no need for big industrial cranes. This reduces our installation time.”
Hydro as strategic supplier of extruded aluminium components
AutoStore produces its systems in Poland. One of its strategic suppliers is Hydro, which not only serves AutoStore from its Polish plant in Trzcianka, but from other locations in Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Spain.
Since aluminium is easy to recycle, it is a very sustainable material. This makes it the perfect material for our systems"
– Israel Losada Salvador, chief operating officer in AutoStore
Its deliveries include rails and robot parts, which demand precision machining. But there is more.
"We produce columns and fences for AutoStore from each of these locations. For instance, from Trzcianka we produce six different track profiles on which the robots are moving, and black anodized parts that are assembled on the robot," says Marta Martyn, key account manager for Hydro.
Sustainability in AutoStore
Looking forward, Losada Salvador says that sustainability is only going to grow in importance for AutoStore.
“Sustainability is already a part of our work flow in a number of different areas. The most obvious one is the heart of our business: to develop energy-efficient solutions for our customers. Through our core business we do actually help our customers and partners to create a more sustainable world,” he says.
“Energy efficiency is very important to the climate and areal efficiency is very important to nature and biodiversity. We want you to be able to store as much as possible – with as little as possible impact on nature.”