Toyota AGVs support kitchen manufacturer Kvik’s growth

The demand for new kitchens has continually been increasing, putting pressure on Kvik’s production, storage and internal material handling. Therefore, the kitchen producer has streamlined its internal transport with two automated stackers from Toyota Material Handling.

About Kvik

Kvik has been supplying Danish kitchen design for more than 30 years, revolutionising the kitchen sector with innovative design and rapid delivery. From Vildbjerg, Kvik distributes ready-made kitchens via 6 to 9 lorries that leave the warehouse in Vildbjerg each day to deliver to the 150 Kvik stores located all over Europe.

• Company: Kvik
• Location: Vildbjerg, Denmark
• Industry: Manufacturing
• Trucks: 2 SAE Autopilot stackers

Rising demand requires efficient operations

The kitchen is the centre point of many homes. With a wide range of options to choose from to create the design that fits each customer's needs, the demand for new kitchens has continually been increasing. This puts pressure on Kvik's production, storage and internal material handling. Therefore, the kitchen producer has streamlined its internal transport with two automated stackers from Toyota Material Handling.

Søren Thomsen is responsible for ensuring that logistics processes at Kvik are as efficient as possible. The growth Kvik has experienced over the last five years has created the need for optimisation of the internal goods supply in production. "The 25% growth of the past few years is putting higher pressure on internal processes and physical constraints. That's why five years ago we set up a new hall and now we have again optimised our operations with the AGVs from Toyota to meet the increasing demand. One of the reasons behind choosing this solution was to have more products circulating in the system without expanding the area, increasing the number of pallet locations or hiring additional warehouse staff. Operations were crucial and we felt that partially automating the goods handling could solve this," says Søren Thomsen.

Automation supports growth

The Autopilot vehicles have optimised two material handling processes: transporting pallets to the intermediate storage and bringing goods from there to production. Incoming palletised goods from suppliers are placed in pickup lanes. "As the AGVs from Toyota pick up the goods to drive them to the storage, we don't need to dedicate specific people to this task. The goods are picked up immediately without any disruptions. It works perfectly and makes people's hands free for other tasks," says Søren Thomsen, head of the warehouse. "When the goods arrive at the intermediate storage, they are also placed in lanes dedicated for warehouse goods. The workers then take over and pick up the goods with stackers and reach trucks to put them down in pickup lanes, after which the AGVs drive them to production where we fold, plan, laminate, paint and refine the material to finished goods."

Quick return on investment

Søren Thomsen concludes that the solution with the two AGVs has yielded efficiency gains of up to 20%, with a payback of less than one year. "After investigating the market for possible solutions for 3 years, we started discussions with Toyota for a possible automation project. A year ago, we pressed the start button. We have done lots of analyses both before and after and have focused on the realisation of the ideas of automation. In that process, the discussions with Toyota have been both rewarding and constructive. There has been full focus and lots of enthusiasm from both project managers and consultants," says Søren Thomsen.

Future integration

The driverless Toyota BT Staxio SAE stacker models run on an 84-month full-service operational lease. They navigate with a GPS system and use lasers and reflectors in a defined layout. The warehouse workers, who store and pick the goods, scan the goods both before and after production. This allows them to stay in control over the goods. Initially, the automation project was about solving a trivial task of moving goods from A to B. "It has turned out to be successful and we are getting better and better at using the system. Over time, we aim to integrate AGVs into our WMS (warehouse management system), so they can also store and pick up the goods, which will make our operations even more efficient. Both the partnership we have developed and the history we have built allow us to thoroughly get into the details and get all things in place. It is hugely valuable and helps us to keep up with rising demand as well as increasing competitiveness, "says Søren Thomsen.

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