Reporting 2021

The logistics architects

BLG LOGISTICS is a master of automated logistics, delivers custom solutions to meet individual requirements and is not satisfied until the customer is. Four examples show what this means in practice.

“Every company has its own challenges and goals. This is why what is needed is a custom-fit concept.”

Thomas Krüger, Managing Director of BLG Handelslogistik GmbH & Co. KG

Textiles, food, household items or electronics: Today we order countless goods online without giving it a second thought. Since the turn of the millennium, e-commerce has exploded, and the coronavirus pandemic has further fueled the trend. According to the German E Commerce and Mail Order Association, e-commerce sales in Germany alone have more than doubled since 2015 from around 47 billion euros to 99 billion euros in 2021. An end to the journey is not in sight.

“More and more companies want and need to shift up a gear when it comes to this topic,” says Thomas Krüger, Managing Director of BLG Handelslogistik. Modern, highly automated logistics that flexibly dovetails the requirements of e-commerce and the various forms of bricks-and-mortar retailing is high on the wish list of many customers. But implementing this is complicated, and fraught with obstacles. Warehouse space, for example, is increasingly scarce and therefore expensive, it’s difficult to find and retain good staff, and outdated ERP and IT systems hinder rapid change.

“Every company has its own challenges and goals,” says Krüger, summing up the mixed picture. “This is why what is needed is a custom-fit concept.” From the initial idea through planning and execution to operation, companies need a partner like BLG LOGISTICS that will support and supervise them with customer-specific, solution-oriented concepts this is what makes BLG logistics architects. The following four examples illustrate how this works in practice.


Staying in sync

Bremen, Neustadt port. From the outside, the building that houses one of Europe’s largest high-bay warehouses looks rather inconspicuous despite its dimensions. Inside, however, be prepared to be impressed: Over 200,000 pallet storage spaces that are managed fully automatically hold millions of individual products. Seven hundred BLG employees keep the wheels of this machinery turning and handle complex logistics processes for the customer Tchibo, covering its entire online retail business as well as many hundreds of Tchibo’s own branches and thousands of sales points in supermarkets.

“We – Tchibo and BLG – continuing to develop. Perfectly in sync.”

Michael Wichmann, Head of Operations in Bremen

The configuration and workflows in the warehouse are the result of 20 years of collaboration, during which one of Germany’s largest consumer goods companies has undergone a huge development, not least in the area of e-commerce. The warehouse has continuously kept pace with this, expanding and becoming more flexible along the way. “We are the backbone of Tchibo,” says Michael Wichmann, Head of Operations in Bremen. Every time the company introduces a new weekly theme world, the BLG team also reinvents itself a little bit. One week it may be hundreds of thousands of bathrobes, while the next it’s silicone mats as a substitute for baking parchment.

BLG & Tchibo
Warehouse with pallets loaded with boxes
A woman between two shelves packs products into boxes
A large number of pallets loaded with boxes

Nearly every single product in the Tchibo universe that is ordered, sold or returned comes from this warehouse or finds its way back here. Order peaks occur with a time lag and are often difficult to plan for, especially from online channels. “That makes things very dynamic, challenging and exciting,” Wichmann says. Teamwork, dialog and a coordinated rhythm are key. “We – Tchibo and BLG – are continuing to develop. Perfectly in sync.”


“We just don’t let up, and we continually involve everyone actively in the process.”

Arno Ziegler, Director Operations

Don’t let up

A3 freeway, Geiselwind exit, 50 kilometers east of Würzburg. Since 2021, BLG LOGISTICS has operated a distribution center here for PUMA that serves a number of different sales channels and, apart from Germany, also supplies several other European countries with sports and lifestyle articles. It took three years from awarding of the contract, planning, and construction to on-schedule commissioning - pandemic notwithstanding.

Many dozens of coordination meetings that would normally have taken place on site were held online. At times, up to 500 people from various neighboring countries were working on the construction site. “The pressure on everyone involved to get the project over the line while complying with coronavirus regulations was enormous,” recalls Arno Ziegler, Director of Operations. So, how did his team manage to accomplish this feat on time against all the odds? “We just don’t let up, and we continually involve everyone actively in the process.”

Highly automated rack storage
Package slides
Exterior view of the camp with forever faster written on it

> 200,000

pallet storage spaces that are managed fully automatically

Woman in a storage house with PUMA-boxes

The result is a highly automated warehouse with 22 kilometers of conveyor technology and 480 shuttle vehicles, with storage space for up to 10 million articles. That’s one side of the coin. Another, often less visible aspect, has to do with the workforce. BLG went the extra mile to make working conditions for the 350 men and women employed here as attractive as possible. Two examples: Ergonomic, height-adjustable workstations that are equally suited for men and women, whether tall or short. And by putting on extra bus routes, even employees without their own means of transport can report for their shift on time.

> 22,500

square meters of greened roof area planted with 350 trees

Trees and solar panels in front of a storage house


Keeping our word

How can logistics adapt when suddenly faced with losing significant amounts of storage space, although order volumes and time pressure remain the same? This was precisely the question confronting BLG’s Berlin-Falkensee logistics center, which handles many of the external inbound warehousing processes for the Siemens-Energy plant 12 kilometers away, where the group produces high-voltage switchgears.

Because Siemens-Energy is planning to build a new work and research campus in the coming years that will also occupy parts of this site, the inbound logistics process was reduced by one storage level in the supply of the plant. “Consequently, the number of accesses in our warehouse shot up from around 700 picks a day to 5,000,” reports Eike-Kristof Kollhorst, Director of Operations in Berlin.

BLG & Siemens-Energy
A man on a pallet truck in front of shelves
Two people in a large hall with forklifts and pipes

BLG overcame this challenge by outlining a number of possible solutions to Siemens-Energy, transparently discussing the pros and cons of each and making a recommendation. The result is a special form of warehouse technology that was integrated seamlessly into the logistics concept: a so-called autostore. This uses IT, robotics and sophisticated algorithms to stack 60-by-40-centimeter bins for small parts in a very confined space. Their storage and retrieval is for the most part fully automated. “This allows us to achieve maximum storage density in the minimum amount of space, and eliminates the need for aisles,” Kollhorst explains. Today, 70,000 bins are stacked on 24 levels on an area of 1,400 square meters. The conversion was carried out on schedule and on budget without interrupting operations at the Siemens-Energy plant. “We kept our word,” says Kollhorst. And admits to feeling proud.

“In 80 percent of cases, we manage to process and ship orders on the same day”

Bolko Wiechmann, Director Operations


In flux

In logistics, what ultimately counts is how quickly, efficiently and reliably things get done, especially under pressure. Impressions of this from Schlüchtern: Since May 2020, BLG has operated a logistics hub here for clothing specialist STRAUSS with over one million storage locations, 400 driverless shuttles and a jungle of conveyors totaling 13 kilometers in length. “Of course, our common goals were and are very ambitious,” says Bolko Wiechmann, the site’s Director of Operations.

However, the successes are now clear for all to see: The picking of the wide product range - extending to around 35,000 article numbers - in the meantime runs like clockwork. At peak times, up to 50,000 parcels per day are dispatched. And: “In 80 percent of cases, we manage to process and ship orders on the same day.” Much to the delight of STRAUSS’s mostly commercial customers - after all, who wants to wait longer than necessary for their work shoes and pants?

A switch of a conveyor belt
Conveyor belt system with multiple boxes
View of the logistics hub in Schluechtern

This is possible because the logistics operations in Schlüchtern are dovetailed. “Let me give you an example,” says Bolko Wiechmann. STRAUSS’s ERP system and our IT in the warehouse are closely networked. When a customer places a product in their online shopping cart, an ad hoc check verifies whether the product is actually in stock.” Errors or delays from the customer’s perspective are therefore extremely rare. This ensures everything is for the most part as it should be: in flux.