Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue once said. As one of the most influential women in the fashion industry, her quote definitely resonates with Dürkopp Fördertechnik, a company with a long-standing tradition and firm roots in the fashion industry. Dürkopp Fördertechnik has been part of the KNAPP group since 2010. Thanks to this merger, we’ve got a first class collaboration providing expertise and industry know-how from a single source.
The perfect combination for our customers in the fashion industry
Johannes Holas, Vice President of Fashion Solutions at KNAPP AG, and Sigurd Völker, Managing Director at Dürkopp Fördertechnik, reminisce about the past 10 years in an interesting conversation about current industry trends, successful collaboration, common values and visions of the future.
Thinking of recent events, how did we support our customers during the corona crisis?
Johannes Holas: We did our best to support our customers during this difficult time but we still don’t know the full extent of this crisis in every business area. First analyses have shown a sudden surge in e-commerce – a business trend that is likely to continue. This rapid change was a big surprise, so many of our customers were suddenly facing challenges. So we implemented smaller expansions in our customers’ systems as fast as we could to support them in changing their business models.
What is still driving the fashion industry? What trends do we foresee?
Sigurd Völker: In a study, managers in the fashion industry were asked to name key words they would use to describe their environment. The terms changing, digital and fast were mentioned most often. We can absolutely confirm that. This industry has morphed into a tech industry in many ways. There is a lot going on in the fashion industry and things are moving at a rapid pace.
Johannes Holas: Conventional trends such as fast fashion, customization, returns and e-commerce are in full swing. What is important right now is to find the right nuances in these established trends. This mix of streamlined supply and value networks combined with product and service features that consumers find relevant and is our current interpretation of “value chain excellence”.
Sigurd Völker: Slow fashion –the opposite trend – is also coming our way. Swapping, recycling and extending usability of items are becoming increasingly significant, as well as transparent supply chains, ethically correct working conditions in production and environmentally-friendly materials. This is a requirement profile contrary to what we normally work with but is one that we are prepared for as well.
Dürkopp Fördertechnik has been part of the KNAPP Group since 2010. What makes the company unique?
We have a great team of experts, which makes the difference. We specialize in fashion and know this business inside and out. Over the years, we have gained tremendous experience when it comes to fashion solutions and have created enduring personal relationships with each other as well as with our customers. This makes us a solid solution provider.
Managing Director Dürkopp Fördertechnik
Johannes Holas: Dürkopp’s experience in fashion helped our team in Graz, who previously worked mostly with flat-packed goods, rise to a whole new level. 10 years ago, the original idea was to merge two technologies to create new technologies and solutions which neither of the companies could have achieved alone. Following this approach, continually generating added value for our customers and sometimes even completely reinventing ourselves are what distinguishes us from other providers in the intralogistics industry.
How has the collaboration between the two companies evolved over the years?
Sigurd Völker: Our business has become more international and our projects are significantly larger with a higher degree of automation. What’s remarkable is how we have come together with our concepts. Graz provides the high-speed warehouse technology and transport systems, whereas we provide the systems for temporary storage, consolidation and sequencing of single items. All of this is optimized and organized by a software solution. In a team effort, we then create master concepts that are hard to beat in terms of efficiency and performance.
What values do the companies share?
Johannes Holas: People are at the centre of everything we do. When everyone feels at ease, even things that previously seemed unimaginable can become reality. We try to create space for this kind of flourishing and are rewarded with creativity and openness.
We are working in a global environment and, thanks to our diverse team, we can adapt to the many different challenges and, ideally, get people excited on both sides of the project – the customer’s team as well as our team.
Vice President Fashion Solutions, KNAPP AG
How do you see the collaboration with the customer?
Sigurd Völker: Openness and trust are the core elements of our relationship with the customer. As a system supplier, we have a great responsibility when a customer trusts us with part of their value chain. We are very aware of this responsibility. At the very beginning of a project, customers entrust their needs to us, and in turn, we take the most direct route to find the right solution for them. Technological innovations or not, at the end of the day we are doing business from person to person. We see our customers as partners and focus on long-term partnerships.
Visions of the future – Johannes Holas plays word association:
Topics that we now consider visionary will soon be more accessible to a wider audience. Recognizing the right trends and translating them for our industry is an exciting task for us.
Flexible solutions – could also be compared with what we say in the mountains, “In gear we trust!” Only robust solutions will be fit for the fast changes in the market.
Despite all of the technological advances, it’s important to remember that we are all just human. – People will always have to work together and we should maintain this important aspect.
3 minutes reading time
Katharina keeps her finger on the pulse of the latest trends in logistics for the fashion and textiles sectors. After all, tailor-made automation solutions will never go out of style. She also researches and blogs about technological topics such as software, robotics and artificial intelligence.
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