In the interview series, we talk to employees of the GRASS Group about the cooperation in the project for the central warehouse in Hohenems. The four-part series kicks off with an interview with Helmut Kainrad, who as Chief Financial Officer is responsible for the business side and parts of the industrialization of the company..

Please introduce yourself briefly.
My name is Helmut Kainrad, I am 51 years old and have been with the company for over 20 years. Currently, I hold the position of Chief Financial Officer and am responsible for the business operations of the GRASS Group as well as sub-areas of its industrialization. In addition, I have been responsible for special projects, such as the central warehouse in Hohenems.

When and how did you join the project?
That was one year after the project start in 2019. We had defined changes in the project allocation, from that point on I took over the responsibility and worked together with my colleagues on site on the construction of the central warehouse.

Were there any special challenges in the process, especially when starting the project?
Definitely! We had to question various things again, which concerned the basic requirements, the calculation fundamentals and the growth strategies. However, nothing had changed in the basic approach.

At this point, TUP was already on board. How did you feel about the collaboration as a newcomer to the project?
We already had a good foundation due to the team collaboration. This has helped us to overcome some challenges, because of the fact that some changes came up due to the course of the project, but we were able to overcome them well together.

Changed requirements also mean exchange between all project participants. How was the conflict management to resolve these requirements done .
With intensive discussions. I would like to mention Mr. Weidenhammer in particular at this point, with whom I found a very good trust basis. We were able to deal honestly with each other, address all open problems and thus find effective solutions for everything.

Aggravating factors with Corona were travel restrictions and also restrictions regarding access to company premises. What was the readiness and commitment of the various project stakeholders during this phase?
The onset of the Corona phase hit us right at the ramp-up of the project. We were about three quarters of a year away from commissioning the warehouse. This was a very difficult situation for everyone involved. There was also some uncertainty about how to act in this situation at this time. However, we managed to work together very well through online meetings and, later on, face-to-face meetings, and were thus able to overcome this difficult and unfamiliar phase in the best possible way from today’s perspective.

View into the high-bay warehouse of the GRASS Group's Hohensems site.
View into the high-bay warehouse of the GRASS Group's Hohensems site.

Were there certain tools that were used preferentially in the process?.
Basically, video conferencing and online availability. The latter was an important point. When the tests were run, on site in Hohenems, the colleagues from TUP were available online at their headquarters and could therefore answer questions immediately.

This creates a good connection to the next question. What was your expectation when you entered the project?
Basically to be able to present a functional warehouse. With this investment into the central warehouse Hohenems, we had one of the largest investments of the GRASS Group and a focus investment in 2020 within the WÜRTH Group. The expectations were therefore very high, but we were able to meet them in full. TUP was a strategically important partner in this, together with our colleagues on site as well as the other project participants for the successful completion of the project.

Were there any particularly exciting situations that developed during the project?
Absolutely! We had a change of participants in the course of the project, at the time of the conclusion of the contract there was also still a need for reworking some framework conditions. But otherwise I must say that the cooperation was very good.

How did you perceive the support in the aftercare phase?
Very good, as well as in the hot phases before the project completion. The fact that we were always able to deliver and invoice as of day one of the go-live speaks volumes about the quality of the support before and after launch. To this day, we are very pleased with the service.

Were there any particular milestones that stood out after the go-live?
For example, that we were able to pick up to 1,500 pallets a day without any problems. In terms of quantity, but also in terms of quality, we already had very high delivery service levels of over 99% at the start, which of course says a lot about the quality of the interaction between hardware and software.

What will the next step be for you after the completion of this project?
Basically, I will continue to work as managing director for the GRASS Group. I have handed over the logistics area to a colleague who is responsible for the order-to-cash process as well as the logistics in Hohenems on site. However, I will be involved in the upcoming projects in this area in an accompanying capacity.

Are there things you can already talk about now?
We have defined an expansion plan for the next few years, specifically in Scandinavia we have planned an expansion project with a high-bay warehouse and the construction of a warehouse with approximately 5,000 pallet spaces.

What advantages do you see from a management perspective in the TUP solutions?.
From my point of view, these are two essential points: Once the scalability, which was a decisive criterion for us. Since we can operate both the central warehouse with the software, but also the production buffer warehouses further down the line. The internationality, which enables us to use the systems abroad, is also an important feature. I have already mentioned our expansion plans in Scandinavia, these will be an essential building block to implement further solutions with TUP. In addition, we are currently looking at the expansion and restructuring of our production plants, where six production buffer warehouses are currently in use with a wide variety of software, there we see a lot of potential in the standardization of our systems with TUP solutions.

Thank you very much for the interview!

Follow this link to the other interviews.