Working as a Retrofit Electrical Engineer at KNAPP

Published on in Company, Service, Sustainability, Working at KNAPP
03:00 minutes reading time

Nothing lasts forever, not even warehouse logistics. The first shuttles we sold are now about 20 years old. You might think that they have fulfilled their purpose and that it’s time for something new – but is that really the case? We at KNAPP say “No”. Thanks to our forward-thinking approach, even our oldest systems still have a great future ahead of them.

We have numerous employees in the retrofit area who deal with exactly this topic and find solutions for our customers to extend the product life.

The job as Shuttle System Electrical Engineer in the Retrofit area, for example, is also the perfect career springboard to dive into our KNAPP product world. Read more in this article:

Why retrofit? What is retrofit?

As a reliable business partner, it’s important to us to continue providing support for our customers and their systems even after their product life cycle has come to an end, when many of them are faced with these questions:

Should we invest in a new installation or modernize our current one? Or should we just continue operating the old system and risk not being able to obtain spare parts – or does a retrofit make more sense?

Due to the uncertain market situation and rising costs for storage space and raw materials, many of our customers are opting for the latter. This is why we created our retrofit and revitalization program for shuttle systems, conveyor systems and all our software. In doing so we want to extend the service life of our customers’ systems – and our shared partnership with our customers. But what exactly is a retrofit?

During a retrofit, we replace the mechanical, electrical and PLC components of a system. This is necessary when components are no longer up to standard or will no longer be available in the near future. At KNAPP, we also update the control systems.

A retrofit is just one possible choice for extending the life of your system.

life cycle extension, retrofit

At KNAPP, we analyze your particular case and help define the best solution together with you.

But what exactly does a retrofit electrical engineer do at KNAPP?

Our colleague Michael Pfingstl, Head of Service Projects & Retrofit in International Customer Service at KNAPP, is passionate about retrofits.

This makes him the perfect person to explain why retrofitting is such a hot topic, what makes it different from a simple modernization, and what exciting job opportunities retrofitting holds.

Michael Pfingstl
Michael Pfingstl, Head of Service Projects & Retrofit at International Customer Service bei KNAPP

What are the main tasks of a shuttle system electrical engineer working in retrofitting?

Michael: From start to finish, meaning from the development phase to the final startup, you are an important intermediary in our retrofit projects. Your main tasks are designing and modifying the electrical layout of our OSR Shuttle systems. OSR stands for Order Storage and Retrieval, which is an umbrella term for our fully automated rack line systems. Many of these systems have already been in use for 20 years or more, which is why they need a technical upgrade. Furthermore, you will continually coordinate tasks with all the technical departments involved (Development, Engineering, Assembly and Commissioning) and clarify open issues and details directly with the customer.

As electrical engineer you bring our established KNAPP technologies up to date to increase the system performance and efficiency. System compatibility and current safety standards play a central role.

What requirements are there for this job? (education, previous knowledge, interests)

Michael: We welcome applicants who are tech enthusiasts, team players and who value the ecological aspects of retrofitting. If you can top your profile with solid technical qualifications (HTL / FH / university degree in control systems, electrical engineering, logistics or automation technology), some experience in (intra)logistics and our KNAPP products, we’d consider you an ideal candidate.

If you enjoy working in a dynamic international team, have no problem communicating in spoken and written English (further languages are a plus), and you welcome going on business trips (not more than 20 % of your job) for variety in your work routine, you are a great match for this position. Why business trips? As electrical engineer, it is vital to get a first-hand view of the retrofit systems on site as you are responsible for: gathering information, project-related coordination meetings with development and project managers and implementing the newly developed control and safety concept. Since KNAPP has a high export rate with logistics systems implemented on all continents, travelling overseas is just part of the job.

What does an average day at work look like?

Michael: A typical day starts with the initial schedule coordination and project clarification meetings on site, followed by installation instructions and post-project support. As an electrical engineer, you provide support for retrofit projects through all the phases and continually make sure our customers and internal technical departments all have the necessary information. At your job, you bring the concept to life and turn it from a concept to a real retrofit project. This is one of the most important tasks in the entire engineering process.

To sum up it up, this job is multifaceted. Working with our countless KNAPP products and technologies is exciting. Every day.

In your opinion, why does this job have good prospects for the future?

Michael: We’ve been supporting our customers with our automation solutions for decades. While our shuttle technology revolutionized the logistics market in the early 2000s, some of our conveyor systems or automated picking systems are significantly older. So there’s pretty high demand for retrofit and revitalization projects. Our goal is to make our customers’ systems fit for the future – and as a electrical engineer, you’ll be doing just that.

What do you like most about your job? And what challenges you?

Michael: I definitely have fun working together with my team. From an engineering point of view, my favorite thing is getting to work with our entire KNAPP product line when doing retrofits. You don’t just become an expert in one product, but in all of them. Plus, you get to collaborate with customers in all sorts of industries from all different cultures and with different languages. You get to see systems that have been in operation for a few years, or for a few decades. No matter what, I get to team up with our customers and my team to turn a system that’s getting on in years into a system that is fit for the future. All of these things are equally fun and challenging. No matter how many retrofit projects we do, we learn something new each day and continually improve ourselves.