Swisslog is celebrating a major milestone: Vectura, its automated stacker crane for pallet warehouses, is turning 50. “We are very proud of this success story,” says Dr. Christian Baur, CEO of Swisslog. “We built the first crane in 1969. Over the decades, many committed employees have continued to enhance and optimize it – all the way to today’s Vectura system, which is still a top seller in our portfolio.”
575 logistics projects completed in 35 countries, with a total of 3,870 stacker cranes installed: The numbers speak for themselves. And the customer list is equally impressive: Walmart, Target, Woolworth, Michelin Nordic, Gries Deco Company, and Rewe are just a few of them. Others relying on Swisslog’s pallet handling technology include United Arab Emirates-based bottled water supplier Mai Dubai, Scandinavian fashion retailer Varner, and Jurong Cold Store.
The Vectura story began 50 years ago with a 10-meter hydraulic crane designed to store and retrieve pallets. The first fully automated version followed 10 years later, in 1979. As proof of the technology’s versatility and durability, a Swisslog customer in Norway is still using it today. Since then, Vectura has evolved into a high-tech system based on state-of-the-art software and a range of different control hardware. The system has three major core attributes: Sustainability, plug & play capability, and reliability. Compared to similar products, Vectura stacker cranes are extremely energy-efficient, in part because of their lightweight construction and innovative mast design.
Plug & play capability means that each Vectura crane is prewired, parameterized and tested prior to delivery, which speeds up installation and commissioning at the customer site. Vectura’s reliability is based on superior product quality using proven standard components, low-wear operation, and ease of maintenance.
“We were looking for a scalable, cost efficient, ergonomic and green solution”, explained Anders Eriksson, Head of Logistics at Varner. “Swisslog’s innovative solution design was the final convincing factor.” Swisslog’s latest innovation for its Vectura system is Single Mast Double Load Handling: This design allows a single mast to handle two pallets at the same time, increasing the throughput and cost efficiency of automated high-bay pallet warehouses. A major international furniture retailer is already using this solution in Malaysia.
“In recent years, our company strategy has focused primarily on future-proof data-driven logistics solutions for the light goods sector as well as robotics,” adds Christian Baur. “At the same time, our pallet technology continues to play an important role. It’s the backbone of our company, and that won’t change.” Over the decades, Swisslog has built a reputation for its pallet handling technology, which forms the foundation of many automated high-bay warehouses.
Today, innovations such as PowerStore, a Swisslog pallet shuttle system first used in the beverage industry, expand classic solutions and boost their performance. Flexible software modules enable the smart integration of pallet systems into state-of-the-art IT infrastructure. Condition Monitoring, as implemented at pharmaceutical company Roche, ensures seamless process control and minimizes the risk of unplanned downtimes. “We’re excited to see what the next 50 years will hold for our pallet technology,” says Baur in closing.