When we last brought you our “Top 20 System Suppliers” list, the Covid-19 pandemic had taken hold, and since our research was based on 2019 numbers (calendar or latest fiscal), it meant that the Top 20 suppliers were just past the crest of a banner year. Then the full pandemic year played out, with all the pain and disruption of it, along with a spike in e-commerce demand, especially in industries like grocery, retail and consumer products. Some industries were up, and some were down, in what overall was a trying year both for companies with warehouse fulfillment operations and system suppliers. Yet, under these unusual conditions, what did the total sales of the Top 20 companies do? It grew—and at a double-digit percentage clip. In total, the revenues of the companies on this year’s Top 20 System Suppliers list reached $25.9 billion, up from $23.2 billion for the companies on last year’s list, which represents a 11.7% increase. Some of the increase in the total list revenue is due to new entrants. One of these is a $1 billion annual sales company. For a full summary of the list’s criteria, see the box, “Making the List.” Keep in mind that the Top 20 suppliers focus on multiple industry verticals. Some of these sectors were deeply impacted by pandemic-related safety shutdowns and supply disruptions in 2020. Other sectors like food and beverage experienced growth, with operators pushing ahead with automation. On balance—coming out of a topsy-turvy, painful year—it is apparent that the e-commerce surge raised our list higher. There is more volatility to this year’s list, but the growth likely is due to the fact that e-commerce is booming, and many of the companies on our Top 20 are focused on providing systems, automation and software that bring speed and efficiency to e-commerce fulfillment. “We’re seeing an unprecedented amount of project activity, and most of it involves warehouse and material handling automation,” says Norm Saenz, managing director and partner with St. Onge Company, a supply chain engineering and logistics consulting firm. “There is an emphasis on e-comm growth and supporting increases in fulfillment volume with the same or less labor. This opens the door for considering traditional technologies as well as an increased look at goods-to-person automation for many companies.”
Daifuku remains No. 1 on the list, reporting more than $4.5 billion in revenues for 2020, which is a healthy 13% gain in revenue from last year. Stuart Oliphant from Daifuku’s corporate communications department:
“While the cleanroom [semiconductor] sector is on a downward trend, sales of intralogistics systems for manufacturers and distributors remain robust, namely due to an increase in projects from the e-commerce and food logistics industry, which we are partly attributing to the increase in working from home brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Further, a large automobile production line system project in North America, which became our largest ever, was also a key contributor.”
Dematic, which has been part of KION Group since 2016, saw a significant bump in revenue, growing from $2.6 billion in 2019 revenue last year to just more than $3.2 billion for 2020—a 21% increase. That was enough to move Dematic into second place on the list, up from third last year.
Veghel, The Netherlands
Hart bei Graz, Austria
Mount Washington, Ky.
Swisslog AG (**Kuka Robotics)
Viano, RE, Italy
Fiorano, MO, Italy
Source: Modern Materials Handling
* A Toyota Advanced Logistics Group company
**Based on figures from parent KUKA Robotics
***Based on 2019 financials
Hasan Dandashly, Dematic’s president and CEO, points out the order intake growth was even more pronounced for Dematic, whose revenues fall under KION’s Supply Chain Solutions segment. Dandashly adds:
“The recent KION Group earnings release outlining 2020 results details Dematic’s performance: ‘Order intake in the Supply Chain Solutions segment jumped by a substantial 31.9%. This sharp rise was due in no small part to new orders, modernization orders and expansion orders from e-commerce customers in North America and Europe. Both the long-term project business (business solutions) and the service business (customer services) recorded year-on-year increases in order intake’.”
In the third spot, Schäfer Group, also known as SSI Schaefer, listed revenue of $3.12 billion, just under its previous year’s $3.2 billion in revenue. With $2.1 billion in revenue, up 23.5% from the previous year, Vanderlande, which is part of Toyota Advanced Logistics Group (TALG), moved into fourth spot on our list, up two positions from last year. Honeywell Intelligrated, whose revenues are reported under Honeywell’s Safety and Productivity Solutions business unit, notched more than $2 billion in revenue in 2020, up from $1.8 billion in 2019. That was enough to nab fifth place, driven by e-commerce pressures among users, observes Christine Feuell, chief commercial officer at Honeywell Intelligrated. Feuell adds:
“The onset of the pandemic was an inflection point for the distribution and fulfillment sector. Consumers embraced contact-less, online fulfillment options—across all retail sectors and many for the first time. E-commerce and omni-channel retail growth accelerated needs for distribution center automation, while DC managers also implemented workplace safety measures aimed at improving worker confidence and well-being.”
After coming off a big growth year in 2019 when it generated $1.8 billion sales, Murata listed its revenue in 2020 at $1.49 billion, which slots it at No. 6 on this year’s list, down from fourth last year. However, the company’s 2020 revenue still exceeded the $1.3 billion in sales it generated in 2018. Murata saw a drop in semiconductor sector sales last year, explains Toshihiko Ishiyama, senior managing director for Murata. On the other hand, he adds, the company saw good performance for materials handling solutions in Japan, including in manufacturing and distribution organizations. Seventh on our list is Knapp, which reported just more than $1.4 billion in 2020 revenues, an increase of nearly 6% over last year’s strong performance. Kevin Reader, director of business development and marketing for Knapp:
“This year, as the world confronted the need for resilience, doubled down on digitalization, and began to re-imagine their supply and value chains in a post-Covid world, the KNAPP Group was fortunate to be well positioned, resulting from our investments in innovation and technology. KNAPP management credits the decision to develop and deploy intelligent solutions at critical points throughout the value chain, as a primary driver of its resilience and rapid recovery from these events.”
Reader adds that Knapp had healthy earnings during its last fiscal year and a strong performance across its retail, e-commerce, healthcare, electronics and grocery sectors. Coming through in eighth is Beumer Group, which saw its 2019 revenue rise 27% to $1.4 billion in 2020. The company offers many types of advanced automation solutions, and has recently looked to partner with technology entrepreneurs, or what it calls “founding teams,” to partner with and create logistics startups to solve customer problems. Holding steady at No. 9, but with growing revenue for 2020 to $1.05 billion, is Material Handling Systems (MHS). Offering multiple types of warehouse automation and services, the pandemic accelerated the need for the types of solutions it offers, explains Scott McReynolds, MHS’s CEO. McReynolds adds:
“The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated many trends reshaping supply chains, including the continued growth of e-commerce. Together with the prevailing labor situation and continued maturation of automation technologies, this climate drove greater demand for our solutions and those of the industry as a whole.”
TGW Logistics rounds out the Top 10 and jumps up one spot from 2019, with $1 billion in revenue, up from $850 million. Harald Schröpf, CEO of TGW Logistics Group:
“Many companies entrusted TGW with the automation of their fulfillment operations over the past financial year— including companies such as Urban Outfitters and Zalando—and attained $1 billion, a new record amount in the history of our company.”
New for 2020 is Siemens Logistics, part of the larger Siemens AG. Based in Germany, and with U.S. headquarters near Dallas, the company offers multiple types of materials handling automation solutions targeting multiple segments, including parcel logistics. Siemens Logistics generated $1 billion in revenue for its latest fiscal year, which puts it in a tie with TGW for No. 10. E-commerce has been a driver for Siemens Logistics’ growth, explains CEO Michael Reichle, aided by capabilities including its MindSphere Application Center, which is used to develop future-oriented analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, and its Supply Chain Suite, which generates a digital twin of a logistics network to help user companies design, monitor and manage supply chain processes.
Witron holds on to the No. 12 spot this year, with $855 million, a 27% increase. In its recap of 2020 results, Witron says that despite the pandemic conditions in 2020, it saw growth in new projects, sales growth of 110 million Euros, added 500 employees, 106 new apprentices and doubled its manufacturing footprint. Swisslog came in at No. 13 this year. The company, which is part of KUKA Robotics, had $646 million in sales revenue for its fiscal 2020, compared to prior year revenue of $673 million, based on Swisslog numbers in KUKA’s annual report. Kardex AG has the No. 14 spot, with revenue of $466 million, down from $532 million for 2019. “Despite the challenges we all faced in 2020, our employees, exclusive dealer network and business partners once again carried our company to success with an unwavering commitment to excellence, and advancement of our industry,” says Mark Dunaway, president of the North America region for Kardex Remstar. Bastian Solutions, which is part of Toyota Advanced Logistics North America, notched revenue of $405 million, up 14.7% from 2019. That growth put it at No. 15 on the list. According to Greg Conner, vice president of corporate development, its growth stems from Bastian’s ability to help retailers, e-commerce companies and others adjust to pandemic conditions and e-commerce pressures. Elettric80, No. 16 this year, had 2020 revenue of $394.9 million, representing a 30% gain. The global, Italian company has its U.S. headquarters in the Chicago area. Another global, Italian supplier, System Logistics, reported revenue of $262 million, up $1 million over 2019. That was enough to keep the company on our list at No. 17. DMW&H stayed steady at $214 million in revenue, to come in at No. 18 this year. “DMW&H entered 2021 with a record backlog, and we’re now scheduling projects for implementations in 2022 and 2023, driven largely by e-commerce demands and continued growth within our beverage and parcel market segments,” Joe Colletti, CEO and president of DMW&H says. 2020 was a growth year for viastore, with revenue of $192 million, up 22% from 2019. That kept the company at No. 19 on our list. “At viastore, we’re happy to report significant order entry growth in 2020 even in light of the global pandemic situation,” says Tom Coyne, president and COO of viastore Systems. “This growth was across viastore’s global business with major projects won in both France and the United States.” Rounding out the Top 20 is another new entrant, Savoye, a global French company with North American headquarters near Chicago. Its 2020 revenue of $185 million is up 16.5% from 2019. According to Nicolas Guillot, product and marketing manager for the company, that growth was tied to Savoye’s international development strategy, including in North America, while business in Europe was boosted by new affiliates in Italy and the Benelux region.