Top 20 Material Handling System Suppliers in 2017

Across the globe, the industry achieved record-smashing growth.

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For the first time in its 21 years, Modern’s Top 20 Systems Suppliers list shows universal revenue growth among the top players, including five that grew more than 25%. Following annual increases of 3.5% and 6%, the list’s combined revenues surged 16.5% in 2017.

Norm Saenz, managing director at St. Onge Co., says momentum continues to build.

“There were large increases in investment in 2017, which also increased over previous years,” Saenz says. “There’s a focus on investing in tactical systems (i.e. additional pick locations, put-walls, etc.), driven by massive e-commerce growth. Among retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, the operational tweaks made to address e-commerce are no longer enough to handle the continued growth, making technology investment a must for many.”

Saenz adds that companies are also readying their supply chains to support a “digital transformation” intended to improve the effectiveness of their logistics with real-time data. For many, he says, this transformation requires investments in automated equipment, bar coding/scanners, RFID, warehouse control/execution systems (WCS/WES) and more.

“It’s so drastic that some companies are totally renovating their existing facilities, removing old equipment and updating with state-of-the-art equipment, technology and software,” he says. “They’re trying to make a difference by investing capital on the right tactical systems to address emerging market channels like e-commerce, and readying their supply chains for the future. This spending activity is clearly reflected in the performance of the Top 20.”

Going forward, Saenz expects the same big players will continue to earn the largest share of the market, but potential acquisitions and mergers could further change the rankings among the top companies.

“Whoever takes firm control of delivering quality technologies that enable efficient e-commerce fulfillment and the digitization of supply chains will dominate the 2018 rankings,” he says. “Systems such as unit sorters, mini-load and shuttle systems, put walls, pick modules and other piece-pick technologies will lead the way for many technology companies. The ability of these firms to provide quality WCS/WES solutions only increases the potential for increased revenue.”

The big get bigger

Daifuku retains the No.1 spot this year, reporting 2017 revenues of $3.66 billion, a 25% increase from 2016 that contributed to a three-year growth rate of 44%.

According to Stuart Oliphant in Daifuku’s corporate communications department, business was good across the globe. He says growth in revenue is partially linked to an increase in orders for materials handling systems from the flat panel display and semiconductor sectors in East Asia.

“There is also the continuing global trend of capital investment toward e-commerce, and newer and larger distribution facilities,” Oliphant says. “The growth is also underpinned by an extensive order backlog. With continued capital investment across the Daifuku Group and increased production through cooperation among its productions sites worldwide, Daifuku has been striving to meet rapidly increased demand.”

In second place, Schaefer Systems International (SSI) SSI crossed the $3 billion mark after growing 16%. Arnold Heuzen, president and COO, cited business growth as well as the increase in the value of the Euro.

Following its acquisition by forklift and logistics leader KION Group in late 2016, Dematic is now a supply chain solutions operating unit of KION. The unit includes Dematic as well as Egemin, an automatic industrial vehicle specialist that previously placed 18th on this list and was acquired by KION in 2015.

Dematic again finished third with $2.27 billion in revenues. The 12.5% increase in 2017 follows 8% growth in 2016, and adds to three-year growth of 42%.

Climbing one rank to fourth, Vanderlande Industries grew 25% to $1.5 billion, boosting its three-year gains to 46%. Shortly before the publication of last year’s Top 20 list—when Vanderlande posted the highest growth rate on that list at 18%—Toyota Industries Corporation (TICO) acquired the company. Following TICO’s 2017 acquisition of 16th-place Bastian Solutions, Vanderlande became the second business to join TICO’s new business division called Toyota Advanced Logistics Solutions (TALS), which manages North American activities in the area of logistics solutions.

In fifth place is Murata Machinery, which in 2015 was one of only three companies to post more than 20% growth. In 2017 it grew slightly to $1.29 billion and achieved a three-year increase of 28%.

They say a rising tide lifts all boats. In 2016, the combined value of the Top 5 totaled exactly $10 billion, a 4.6% increase and nearly 60% of the total list’s value. In that year, the remainder of the list grew just 2%. In 2017, however, the Top 5 achieved a 17% increase for total revenues of $11.8 billion, and the other 15 companies shared in the good fortune and collectively grew 17%.


Top 20 worldwide materials handling system suppliers

2017
Rank

2016 Rank

Company

Web site

Worldwide
2016 revenue (million USD)

Worldwide
2017 revenue (million USD)

Percent change
‘16-‘17

Three-year change

Headquarters

1

1

Daifuku Co., Ltd.

daifuku.com

2924

3659

25.1%

44%

Osaka, Japan

2

2

Schaefer Holding International GmbH

ssi-schaefer.us

2630

3060

16.3%

23%

Neunkirchen, Germany

3

3

Dematic

dematic.com

2016

2267

12.5%

42%

Grand Rapids, Mich.

4

5

Vanderlande Industries B.V.

vanderlande.com

1231

1538**

24.9%

46%

Veghel, The Netherlands

5

4

Murata Machinery, Ltd.

muratec-usa.com

1260

1287

2.1%

28%

Kyoto, Japan

6

8

Honeywell Intelligrated

intelligrated.com

850

1000

17.6%

59%

Mason, Ohio

7

12

TGW Logistics Group GmbH

tgw-group.com

568

915

61.1%

74%

Wels, Austria

8

7

Beumer Group GmbH

beumergroup.com

852

900

5.6%

0%

Beckum, Germany

9

9

Fives Group

fivesgroup.com

721

721*

0%

0%

Paris, France

10

10

Swisslog AG

swisslog.com

645

915

41.8%

29%

Buchs, Switzerland

11

11

Knapp AG

knapp.com

643

643*

0%

4%

Hart bei Graz, Austria

12

14

Witron Logistik + Informatik, GmbH

witron.com

453

635

40.2%

75%

Parkstein, Germany

13

13

Grenzebach Maschinenbau GmbH

grenzebach.com

477

477*

0%

0%

Hamlar, Germany

14

15

Kardex AG

kardex.com

397

425

7.1%

24%

Zurich, Switzerland

15

N/A

Elettric 80

elettric80.com

150

261

74.0%

99%

Viano, RE, Italy

16

16

Bastian Solutions, LLC

bastiansolutions.com

217

233

7.4%

39%

Indianapolis, Ind.

17

17

DMW&H

dmwandh.com

172

225

30.8%

80%

Southgate, Mich.

18

N/A

Stöcklin Logistik AG

stoecklin.com

N/A

153

N/A

N/A

Aesch, Switzerland

19

19

viastore systems Inc.

us.viastore.com

140

152

8.6%

17%

Stuttgart, Germany

20

20

System Group

systemlogistics.com

129

129*

0%

-26%

Fiorano, MO, Italy


Making the list

To qualify for Modern’s Top 20 list, companies must be suppliers of materials handling systems, not just equipment providers. In addition to manufacturing at least two major handling system components, a company must also employ full-time staff that designs, installs and integrates materials handling systems.

These systems include at least two of the following: transportation devices, storage and staging equipment, picking units, sortation systems, information management systems, data capture technologies and other types of handling equipment.

To be considered worldwide suppliers, companies must have a presence in North America and must also be able to report materials handling revenues to Modern. (Lockheed Martin, for example, is a systems supplier with a North American presence, but isn’t included in our Top 20 list because they can’t single out the revenue that comes from materials handling contracts.)


Standouts and shakeups

In the years since Intelligrated placed 15th on the 2009 Top 20 list, it has grown by double digits in all but one year. In a 2016 transaction valued at $1.5 billion, Intelligrated joined Honeywell’s Sensing and Productivity Solutions (S&PS) in its Automation and Controls Solutions Business, and was rebranded as Honeywell Intelligrated.

The company gained two ranks in 2017, finishing in 6th place. Although final 2017 revenues were not available by press time, Honeywell Intelligrated supplied an estimate of $1 billion, up nearly 18% and contributing to its 60% growth in the last three years.

“Continued e-commerce growth, rising consumer expectations and labor trends all drive continued investment in automated systems and software,” says Pieter Krynauw, president of Honeywell Intelligrated. “Logistics operations are leveraging smarter automation and digital transformation initiatives to become more efficient and agile. Honeywell Intelligrated is well positioned to support these initiatives in the distribution center through the power of connected solutions.”

Finishing 2017 with $915 million, TGW’s performance was good enough to jump five spots to land in 7th place. TGW’s revenues represent 60% growth in just one year. Incredibly, this is only the second largest growth rate on the list.

In 8th place, Beumer Group again crossed the $900 million mark following 5.6% growth. According to Uwe Kinski, chief financial officer for Beumer Corp., “Beumer Group experienced notable growth throughout the world and across its business segments, most notably in the airports, logistics and customer support segment.”

Ninth-place finisher Fives Group was unable to provide 2017 revenues by press time, so the company’s previous total of $721 million has been carried over.

Rounding out the Top 10, Swisslog’s Warehouse and Distribution Solutions division reported 2017 revenues of $695 million, excluding the company’s healthcare division. [Editor’s note: Since publication, Swisslog’s revenues have been updated to include the healthcare division, as was reported the previous year. Growth rates in the chart have also been amended, and Swisslog is now tied for 7th place.] Last year’s performance follows a 2016 that a spokesperson says represented “our largest order intake year ever.”

“Globally, the U.S. is our strongest region and we enjoyed record order intake, net sales and profitability in 2017,” says Markus Schmidt, president of Swisslog WDS Americas. “We are seeing a much more rapid adoption of warehouse automation solutions in the market, particularly in the burgeoning e-commerce/retail segment.”

Swisslog, which is now fully integrated into the KUKA Group worldwide, also acquired Power Automation Systems (PAS) in April 2016. PAS manufactures the PowerStore, a leading pallet shuttle system. Swisslog has also fully integrated both PAS and Forte Industries, which it acquired in April 2015 under the Swisslog brand.

Universal growth

Knapp was unable to report revenues by press time, so its 2016 revenues have been carried over and are enough for it to retain
11th place.

Witron has climbed up two ranks to land in 12th with $635 million in revenues. A spokesperson says the company experienced strong growth on both sides of the Atlantic and in Asia, and that the stronger Euro also contributed to a higher dollar value. In Euro, the company achieved 15.5% growth. In dollars, Witron’s 2017 revenues are up more than 40%, and its three-year growth rate is 87%.

Witron has added 1,000 new staff members in the past four years, according to a release, bringing its number of employees to more than 2,800 in 2016.

“The world becomes even more interlinked,” says Helmut Prieschenk, Witron CEO. “This trend is especially noticeable in the logistics area. Information and algorithms play a central role; data is undoubtedly the decisive resource of the future. However, digitization may never be achieved for the sake of digitization itself. Our projects and business models must pay off at the end of the day.”

Grenzebach was unable to report, and its 2016 revenues are enough for the company to retain 13th place.

Kardex Group (including both its Remstar and Mlog divisions) climbed one spot to 14th place after 7.1% growth in 2017 revenues, which caps off a three-year growth rate of 25%.

“We enjoyed our best year in Kardex Remstar USA’s history last year, increasing our bookings by 30% over 2016,” says Mark Dunaway, executive vice president of new business. “A strong economy along with continued support and investment from the Kardex Group have positioned us to continue this growth in a sustainable way for the foreseeable future.”

After finishing just outside the Top 20 last year, Elettric 80 has made a triumphant return to claim 15th place. After doubling within three years, the company’s annual revenues totaled $261 million in 2017.

“We are experiencing a huge growth,” says Andrea Pongolini, vice president of sales. “We already have orders for a 2018 revenue of $252 million.”

Bastian Solutions grew 7.4% and held its 16-place ranking with $233 million. According to Aaron Jones, president, “revenue growth came from several areas, but a few key success factors were growth in our warehouse execution and warehouse management system implementations, increased robotic and mobile robotic systems, as well as the development of composite materials and advanced control systems.”

DMW&H (previously Dearborn Mid-West Company, which acquired W&H Systems in late 2015) held 17th place, finishing just behind Bastian with revenues of $225 million—a 31% year-over-year improvement. A spokesperson says growth across all segments was a result of the demand in the automotive and wine and spirits distribution industries.

In 18th place, Stöcklin is a newcomer to the list and reported $153 million in revenues. Tony Varda, director of business development, says growth from non-traditional automation markets, such as Russia, Brazil and Mexico have helped fuel the company’s recent success.

Hot on Stöcklin’s trail is 19th-ranked viastore with $152 million, an increase of 8.6% over 2016 revenues.

“We attribute this increase to strong performance in all our markets served,” says Tom Coyne, president and chief operating officer of viastore. “The global marketplace seemed to remain strong. In addition, viastore has been growing its business in both automated systems and our WMS software business. All in all, 2017 was a very good year, and we expect to see another year of growth in orders in 2018.”

Last but not least at No. 20, Italy-based System Group (System Logistics, Modula) was unable to report revenues by press time.


About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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