Henkel has implemented significant changes across the enterprise, looking to optimize storage, enhance efficiency, and drive digital automation via Industry 4.0 integrations. As part of this initiative, the company has expanded its largest and most tech advanced logistics operation yet in North America.
The logistics hub in Bowling Green, Kentucky, has transformed over the last three years, following a $70 million investment. This particular location supports Henkel’s laundry, home care, and beauty production, and the storage and distribution of brands like Persil, Purex, all, Snuggle, Schwarzkopf, and Dial.
Dirk Holbach, corporate senior vice president, global supply chain, said Henkel is actively investing in products, tech, and innovations that will help the company boost productivity and efficiency.
“Through digital transformation, we use data to gain additional insights that help improve decision-making across our supply chain,” said Holbach. “This advanced innovation requires collaborative and committed partners, and dedicated employees; we are grateful for everyone's support to help us deliver this project on time, on budget, and with excellence."
The hub is now equipped with digital automation capabilities that not only strengthen Henkel’s supply chain, but also allow the location to respond in real time to market conditions. Using digitization and emerging technologies, the company can now more quickly exchange data, streamline processes, and increase supply chain resource efficiency. Through these improvements, warehouse structure and workflow are optimized.
The 1.4 million-square-foot hub can store 200,000 pallets (up from 88,000) and enables up to 1,000 trucks per day throughput (an increase from 200).
"At Henkel, we are continually seeking ways to enhance our supply chain network and invest in purposeful growth," said Mark Fratamico, vice president, laundry supply chain operations, North America. "Increased automation allows us to provide efficiencies and superior customer service, help our retailers meet consumer demand and increase operational agility so we can continue to respond to a rapidly changing business environment."
More Changes Likely Ahead
This expansion is the latest in a series of strategic moves to transform the Henkel business. Earlier this year, the company announced it would be merging its laundry, home care, and beauty divisions to build a single multi-category platform that combines its consumer brands and businesses, featuring brands such as Persil and Schwarzkopf.
Along with new leadership for the combined unit, with Wolfgang König leading the charge, the company announced it would be advancing the entire consumer brands business, with leaner structures and faster decision-making.
As part of this initiative, Henkel said it would be looking to free up resources for higher investments and better target these investments in strategic capabilities like digitalization of R&D, e-commerce capabilities, or sustainability efforts around recyclable packaging.
Additionally, last year, the company focused on automation and tech advancements within the consumer experience for its Amazon customers. Henkel sought to automate processes such as monitoring and reducing purchase order errors from Amazon to recapture lost revenue on its consumer product lines, as well as drive profitability from its Amazon sales.
Amazon is testing out a new class of AI-powered, self-navigating robots in their fulfillment centers. The next-generation robots will be able to roam freely, helping associates transport oversized and bulky items around the harder-to-navigate parts of the facility.