LTW Intralogistics expands in North America
November 15, 2010 - MMH Editorial
Much of the news in the US materials handling industry in recent years has been about consolidation. Intelligrated acquired FKI, System Logistics acquired Diamond Phoenix, Dematic acquired HK Systems.
LTW Intralogistics, a manufacturer of stacker cranes for automated storage and retrieval systems, is pushing to grow its business in the US.
If your first reaction is: LTW who?, well, you’re not alone. I’d never heard of them either before talking to Daryl Hull, the president of the company’s North American operations, even though the company has been around since the 1980’s. On the other hand, I may very well have ridden on one of their ski lifts or trams.
“We are part of the Doppelmayr Group,” Hull explained. “They are one of the world’s largest manufacturers of ski lifts and people movers, like the tram at the Mexico City Airport or the system that connects some of the casinos in Las Vegas.”
LTW Intralogistics, the division that makes AS/RS cranes, conveyors and software for high-bay warehouses, is 20 to 25% of the parent’s production, which approaches $1 billion US on a worldwide basis. “We are a well-known name in Europe, but not in the US until recently,” Hull said. LTW is a supplier of AS/RS crane technology to IKEA on a global basis, for instance.
The company entered the US market in 2000, but until 2006, its products were marketed through another sales organization.
How does LTW distinguish itself? At the low end of the market, such as record storage, Hull says the company designs aisle-changing systems to handle totes and boxes – one crane that can handle say ten aisles of storage. They have also installed aisle-changing cranes in pallet-handling AS/RS’s with high storage volume requirements but low volume throughput.
At the upper end, the company’s niche is in handling a wide range of product sizes, including a system that provides dry storage for 35-foot-long boats. “In the U.K., we recently shipped six cranes that have the capacity to move 6,000 pound loads in a 140 foot tall system,” Hull said. “We’ve done cranes handling load up to 20,000 pounds.” Cold storage is another area of focus, leveraging the parent company’s engineering expertise when it comes to making machines that work in the snow and ice. “In the US, we have sold a number of installations in the freezer industry,” Hull says.
How is business? Hull says he is seeing an increased interest in automation, something I’m exploring for a Big Picture in December. “I am definitely seeing interest in materials handling automation, even from smaller companies,” he said. “We now have with just $30 million sales. It’s not just the Fortune 500 any longer.”