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Dynamic material handling in the carbon-free distribution centre


Industry: Climate conditioning, incl. tools and accessories.
Company: The world‘s leading company in the field of air treatment and measurement technology. TROTEC produces and sells heating and air conditioning units as well as tools and measuring equipment.
Challenge: Consolidation of all regional external warehouses and workshop for returns in a central logistics and production centre.
Solution: Conception, planning and installation of the racking systems as well as the delivery of the matching electric forklift trucks and warehouse equipment.
Products: RX 20 and RX 60 electric forklift trucks, FM-X reach truck, OPX iGo neo autonomous horizontal order picker. Narrow aisle, wide aisle and drive-in racking warehouse with space for 49,000 Euro pallets.

To meet the ever-growing demand, TROTEC, a specialist for climate control, dehumidification and heating, uses state-of-the-art warehouse logistics to ship its products from Heinsberg to destinations all over the world. The solar panels on the five-hectare roof area of the newly built distribution and production centre provide energy not only for use on site, but also for 1,500 four-person households. STILL installed one of the largest racking systems – with storage capacity for 49,000 Euro pallets – in the three hall bays with five fire sections. With up to 15,000 orders per day being processed during peak season, electric forklifts and warehouse trucks from STILL ensure punctual delivery along with dynamic goods handling, all at maximum power and flexibility.


Carbon-free distribution centre sets new standards

TROTEC GmbH, headquartered in Heinsberg in the west of North Rhine-Westphalia, has been producing and selling heating and air conditioning equipment as well as tools and measuring instruments for industry, trades and private households all over the world for more than three decades. The engineers, service technicians and specialist consultants of the TROTEC group of companies have a wealth of expertise in climate control and conditioning for buildings. A period of strong growth had left the former distribution warehouse in Alsdorf bursting at the seams. The climate and heating specialist therefore had a modern logistics and production centre built in Heinsberg.

Here’s the verdict from Julian Linnenbrink, Project Manager for intralogistics at TROTEC’S new logistics centre: “With the recent integration into the Dantherm Group, our newly built logistics centre is now also being used as a central distribution centre in Germany for the Danish group. Here in Heinsberg, seven German warehouses have been consolidated at a single site. This allowed us to bring several different aspects under one roof. More precisely, we have been able to expand our storage capacity and reorganise our delivery processes, and to strengthen distribution at the German location for the Danish group.”

The new building combines 55,000 m2 of high-bay storage, production halls, office space and state-of-the-art IT infrastructure. The new building is a trailblazer in many ways. For instance, care was taken to design an ergonomic work environment with plenty of natural light. Meanwhile, the solar panels are not only used for the distribution centre itself but also generate enough power for 1,500 households. This responsible commitment at TROTEC is certified and supported by the European Union. TROTEC is also committed to sustainability when it comes to waste prevention. Returns from online sales are thoroughly checked and in the majority of cases reprocessed. These products are then sold again in brick-and-mortar stores in the outlet or online in the outlet shop. This saves valuable raw materials and resources while reducing carbon emissions. Products that cannot be resold are disassembled and sent for recycling.

Intralogistics reorganisation

In the new logistics centre, ergonomic industrial trucks from STILL as well as cutting- edge hardware and software solutions make the day-to-day work of employees even more efficient and reduce physical stress. Julian Linnenbrink adds: “The locations of the regional external warehouses and workshop for product returns were closed and combined into the new logistics and production centre. As part of this restructuring, the processes and infrastructure for intralogistics were reorganised and designed to be more efficient. Even with the large number of products offered by TROTEC, our efficient logistics centre will ensure reliable delivery going forward.” Thanks to the centralisation of the former sites, it has been possible to reduce running costs in addition to significantly improving the ecological footprint by cutting carbon emissions.

Highly dynamic goods handling

Loading and unloading can be carried out almost simultaneously at the numerous loading gates, offering plenty of capacity for TROTEC’s ever-growing product range. In order to optimise the supply chain processes, the experienced intralogistics specialist STILL was entrusted with the design, planning and installation of the rack systems as well as the delivery of the corresponding electric forklift trucks and warehouse trucks. Tobias Wegener, Planner and Consultant for System Sales at the Dortmund/Krefeld headquarters, tells us more: “To this day, it’s one of our biggest warehouse storage projects. The new racking system has an enormous storage capacity with spaces for 49,000 Euro pallets and is designed with narrow aisle, wide aisle and drive-in rack storage for the fast-paced goods handling environment.” Dirk Springmann, Warehouse Manager at TROTEC, adds: “We ship about 6,000 orders each day. We have already completed a successful initial trial in parallel with our day-to-day business, with the planning and relocation of 40,000 pallets by means of 1,500 truckloads from the Alsdorf site to our new logistics centre in Heinsberg.”

Punctual delivery at peak times with drive-in rack storage

On hot summer days, the demand for air conditioners can trigger up to 15,000 orders per day. Marcus Probos, Logistics Manager at TROTEC, has more details: “For the seasonal business, STILL installed a large drive-in rack storage system with storage capacity for 26,000 Euro pallets. The FM-X reach trucks and the front loaders RX 20 and RX 60 from STILL as well as our numerous loading gates, allow us to quickly work through order peaks like these.”

In the case of the drive-in rack storage, the deep racks allow for several units of palletised goods to be stored one behind the other on two support rails. They are ideal for pressure-sensitive goods or seasonal goods as the pallets stay in the rows for a long time. Thomas Pfleiderer, a racking planner at STILL Dortmund, explains: “With a design that permits compact storage, our drive-in racks use the available space as effectively as possible. This makes them ideal for large quantities of the same item type, as well as providing an excellent overview for large batches of goods. They are also ready to be upgraded for automation further down the line.” The drive-in rack storage system is operated with FM-X reach trucks or RX 20 or RX 60 front loaders, which can drive directly into the rows. “Our specially developed loading guides and pallet rails have a stable and smooth surface. The distinctive colour of the loading guide, the lateral guide rail and the end stop allow the driver to quickly and precisely adjust the pallets,” adds Pfleiderer.

Autonomous low level order picker increases productivity and reduces the workload

In the wide aisle warehouse, goods are picked from the lower racks with the autonomous OPX iGo neo from STILL. The autonomous low level order picker follows its human companion from one picking position to the next. The OPX iGo neo independently avoids non-critical obstacles and stops gently in front of critical ones. The intuitive remote control is used to set the ideal picking position for the OPX iGo neo operator, i.e. at the beginning, middle or end of the two pallets on the truck.

The OPX iGo neo can even autonomously switch the racking side while working, either by remote control or with the assistance key on the relevant truck side. Once the switch is complete, the truck orients itself to the rack layout. Thanks to hybrid tracking, a combination of the two motion tracking sensors, one via a laser on the truck and the other via a wireless sensor on the remote control, the autonomous order picker from STILL always tracks the position of its human companion precisely and always reacts reliably to its surroundings. The OPX iGo neo significantly reduces the distance the operator needs to cover while carrying a load, and can save up to 75 per cent of time and effort by decreasing the amount of times the operator needs to get on and off. As Julian Linnenbrink puts it: “The wide range of possibilities offered by the STILL autonomous low level order pickers impressed us.” Markus Probos confirms: “Out of all the trucks that we tested, the OPX iGo neo is the most highly developed. In order to protect our order pickers’ backs, our next step will be to purchase more autonomous trucks.”

Service technicians are important brand ambassadors

All STILL service technicians are able to handle a wide range of products and have the skills to service mixed fleets, regardless of whether they are automated, manual or even trucks from other manufacturers. This means customers benefit from a central contact for all service work – a provider who they have worked with for many years, who knows their company and processes inside out, and who can immediately identify ways to improve the safety and condition of their fleet – leaving them free to focus their efforts on their core business. Dirk Springmann emphasises: “STILL offers a service that is unbeatable. With just one call, the service technician will arrive the next day and rectify the fault on the vehicle. Our contacts at STILL have always been available from day one. This is what reliable service means to me, which is hugely important when it comes to future cooperation.”


With the new logistics and production centre, TROTEC is bundling its capacities while reducing its ecological footprint. In order to enable the company to keep up with the fast-paced environment of goods handling, STILL has so far successfully planned and installed one of the largest rack systems for narrow aisle, wide aisle and drive-in rack storage. As a result, order peaks of up to 15,000 orders per day for seasonal goods can be reliably handled with front loaders from the RX 20 and RX 60 series as well as the FM-X reach trucks from STILL. With STILL’s autonomous low level order picker OPX iGo neo, orders can be picked in an ergonomic and user-friendly way. Reducing the number of times that the operator needs to get on and off the truck can save up to 75 per cent of time and effort. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, both in the bidding phase and in the project phase, everyone pulled together. This made it possible to quickly develop solutions together. In the near future, another project for the automation of internal transport is already under consideration.