From Flower Traders to Tree Nurseries: Tailor-Made Intralogistics for Flourishing Supply Chains at Easter

Delicate flowers break through the leaf-strewn forest floor, chirping birds build their nests, and the first few rays of sunshine tempt you out into nature: It’s spring, and the upcoming Easter season marks the ideal time to decorate your home and garden. This marks the beginning of the high season for flower traders and DIY retailers, who place their trust in the comprehensive intralogistics solutions from KION’s subsidiary brands Dematic, STILL, and Linde Material Handling.

We can sense the breathtaking awakening of nature in spring, when the first flowers sprout and crocuses, anemones, and liverworts unveil their splendor to the world. Many different cultures celebrate this annual period of renewal alongside religious festivals such as the Christian festival of Easter, the Jewish festival of Passover, the Persian Nowruz, or the Hindu Holi festival. Agrarian societies expressed their joy and gratitude after the hard winter period with spring festivals and the need to bring a little nature into the home at the start of spring has remained unchanged among many people to this day.

The Flower Trade in Full Bloom

Germany is Europe's largest consumer market for flowers and plants; in 2021, around 187,000 metric tons of cut flowers from the Netherlands arrived at German retail outlets, followed by another 10,000 tons from Kenya and other East African countries, amounting to a total value of EUR 1.15 billion. Germans spent an average of EUR 124 per capita on cut flowers over the course of the year, and the trend is on the rise. Most flowers—over a third of imports—are currently sold through supermarkets and discount stores, followed by wholesale retailers (29%), garden centers (14%), and finally florists (7%). Holidays are high season for florists; tulips and daffodils are especially popular at Easter.

Automated Systems for Flower Auctions

During the blossoming season in March, the cultivation areas in the Netherlands are transformed into veritable seas of flowers, while the world's largest open trading center for plants and flowers, FloraHolland in Aalsmeer, is a hive of activity. Between 6000 and 12,000 trolleys of freshly cut flowers and plants go up for auction here every day. They are transported from cold storage via an underfloor chain drag conveyor from the KION subsidiary Dematic (formerly Egemin Automation) to the auction area where they turn around and are transported to the shipping area directly after bidding – straight to the trader who made the winning bid for the flowering goods.

Smooth Process for Florists

The perfect Easter bouquet needs more than just fresh early blossoming flowers and branches; it also needs also the right decoration. These can be found just ten kilometers away at Dillewijn Zwapak B.V. in Amstelveen, a Dutch wholesaler of packaging for flowers and florist equipment. Intralogistics processes for the company’s wide range of florist accessories have been running smoothly here since 2019 thanks to an ultra-modern automated solution from two KION brands. The tailor-made solution consists of a driverless transport system (AGV) with multiple automated trucks from STILL and pallet racks and a paternoster order picker from Dematic. Together, they are able to automatically store and outsource around 300 pallets each day, increase throughput when picking the many customer orders and, in doing so, help to bring a touch of spring to millions of households around the world.

The Green Light for the Gardening Season

For many hobby gardeners, the Easter season also heralds the start of the best but busiest time of the year. According to Statista, an incredible 35 million people in Germany have a garden. 79% of all households have a garden or other outdoor space such as a balcony or terrace. Garden owners spend an average of eleven hours per week in the garden between March and October. Garden owners spent a staggering EUR 15.4 billion on their gardens in 2020 on plants, garden tools, furniture, and other equipment. For many, garden centers are the first port of call for everything they need, and the KION Group is also well represented here with its brands.

Strong Forks for the Garden Center

Dehner, the market leader in the garden center industry, is based in Rain am Lech, where it has been operating a fleet of around 50 industrial trucks from the KION subsidiary Linde Material Handling since 2017. The trucks are used to safely unload plant containers full of primroses, pansies, and so on from lorries and take them for sale. The plant trade mainly uses CC containers and the forklift trucks from Linde have been equipped with special attachments for picking up and transporting these containers quickly and safely.

Hardworking Helpers for the Nursery

The support that Linde Material Handling trucks provide for the various supply chains in the flower and plants industries can be seen at the Carolus Trees nursery. The Belgian company grows several varieties of pears and apples at the edge of the Limburg fruit-growing region. When working with natural products in the open air, the forklifts used need to be able to withstand dirt, water, mud, and the cold. This is no issue for the electric forklift truck from Linde Material Handling: They are able to easily load the approximately two million trees produced each year, and without any emissions, and, in doing so, ensure the availability of blossoming trees in spring and a delicious fruit harvest in fall throughout Europe.

Smooth (Intra)Logistics for the Garden Lounge

KION subsidiaries are also working hard in the background to ensure the availability of beautiful, sustainable furniture, ideal for relaxing on after a day in the garden. In 2018, STILL and Dematic worked together to automate the furniture chain CASA’s new European distribution center in Olen, Belgium. An innovative storage and racking concept for maximum storage capacity along with multiple automated STILL FM-X reach trucks and STILL MX-X very narrow aisle trucks ensure smooth processes. In this way, deliveries are made from the ultra-modern distribution center to 500 furniture store branches throughout Europe and, of course, to online customers who regularly visit CASA’s website to find their new garden furniture and much more.

From the Easter bouquet on the table to the cozy garden lounger under the apple tree: the KION brands ensure that thousands of items for the home, balcony, and garden find their way to customers and ensure joy blossoms all around as we welcome the spring.

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