Conveyors & Sorters: Behind the Portec acquisition

The deal expands Interroll's product portfolio and expands its geography

By ·

This year has been a busy one for materials handling acquisitions. Earlier this month, Daifuku Webb purchased Wynright. Less noticed was the acquisition of Portec, a specialty manufacturer of belt curve conveyors, by Interroll that closed in July.

In part that’s a reflection of the markets where Interroll is strongest in North America, which includes airports and courier express parcel – sortation system for the likes of UPS, FedEx and ecommerce clients like Amazon and Zulilly. And, in part, it’s a reflection of Interroll’s geographic focus on the East Coast in North America. “We are a global company with a core strength in Europe.” Tim McGill, president of Interroll’s operations in North and South America, told me. “But in North America we’ve had our strongest presence on the East Coast because we have operations in Wilmington, North America.”

The Portec acquisition, McGill added, is part of a three year plan to strengthen Interroll’s presence here in North America and to broaden the portfolio of products it offers globally. “We have committed to spend $40 million in North America over the next three years,” McGill said. “The Portec acquisition is part of that commitment.”

So is the construction of a new facility in Atlanta that will serve as a showroom for Interroll’s products and a geographic base of operations.

Here’s how it all fits together.

Expansion of the product portfolio: Portec manufactures a robust and rugged specialty belt curve that is particularly suited to heavy parcel packages and luggage. It is approved for use in North American airports and is accepted in key courier express parcel accounts. “We are very accepted in the sortation of small packages,” McGill said. “Portec’s experience with heavy parcel is complimentary of that and it gives us access to the airport market.”

Expansion of geographic markets: Interroll has a presence on the East Coast, and warehouse storage customers on the West Coast. Portec, meanwhile, has manufacturing facilities in Denver. “That will allow us to do local assembly of our other products and better serve California,” McGill said.

Global expansion: Portec produces a kit for export that allows customers in local economies, such as Brazil, to build the product with local content. “We believe we’ll be in a good position to make Portec curves from kits to take care of the airport infrastructure constructions going on in Brazil for the Olympics,” McGill said. Similarly, Portec has a joint venture in China, where Interroll already has a factory of its own. And, while 90% of Portec’s sales are presently in the US, Interroll’s biggest customer base is in Europe. “To take those two synerigies and make them work together in Europe is exciting,” McGill said.


About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

Automation · Conveyors · Interroll · Portec · Sortation · · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Mobile Solutions: Improving Supply Chain Efficiencies
To meet customer's ever-increasing service expectations and improve their business efficiency, companies are looking to their supply chain operations – especially material handling and warehouse operations managers.
Download Today!
From the February 2017 Modern Materials Handling Issue
In warehouses and DCs, planning solutions tend to take a back seat to execution system functions. Vendors are working to boost the trust factor using tools that break down forecasts and blend with analytics.
Automated Storage on the Move
Receiving 101: Setting the Table for Success
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2016 Warehouse/DC Operations Webcast: Confronting omni-channel complexity
During this webcast we’ll examine the current activities, trends, and best practices in warehouse and DC operations management and how companies plan to address complex issues associate with omni-channel fulfillment.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Johnson & Johnson: A vision for automation
J&J Vision Care brings together a variety of automated technologies, including an innovative...
Using AGVs at LEDVANCE
The lighting manufacturer reaped savings by reducing maintenance costs and product damage, and using...

System Report: Sustainable Distribution at REI
Specialty outdoor retailer REI’s new distribution center brings together the next generation of...
System Report: Whirlpool puts mobile robots to work
In Whirlpool Corp.’s Clyde, Ohio, factory, mobile robots have automated the delivery of parts to...