A most special year in its own way has come to an end. 2020 will be remembered for one thing in particular. Corona entered the world stage on December 31, 2019, making its appearance just in time for the turn of the year. 2020 began under a very iconic shaped star.

Another New Year’s Eve later, the ‘infectious organic structure’ – to use the words of the German Wikipedia – still preoccupies us, but we have nevertheless successfully left behind a 2020 fully affected by it. In many respects, including the economic, these twelve months can be described as difficult, turbulent, in some cases even lost. But despite all the obstacles, we always move on – and ultimately the sun above our heads shines brighter than any star.

We have already defined a TUP motto for 2021 elsewhere:

We don’t want to forget the tried and true, and we want to be open to the new.

To do this, it is advisable to look back over the past year. But we’re sure you feel the same way we do: a new year, a new drive, lots of plans, little time. And so we have briefly summarized the most important developments from ‘TUP 2020’ for you.

New Normal

TUP worked and still works under Corona conditions. Exclusive is different during a pandemic, but mention must be made. From hygiene concept to quarantine to temporary short-time work – all these terms also appeared on the TUP campus. As a software manufactory, digitization is naturally an obvious path for us. Mobile working, a.k.a. MoA, already existed at TUP before, but here Corona has pushed the boundaries of possibilities as well as, above all, habits.

No trade fairs

With great vigor, the software manufactory participates in selected trade fairs throughout the year. First and foremost is the large LogiMAT trade fair in Stuttgart. Although the preparations for this were already in full swing, the industry meeting came to an abrupt end. In order to protect the employees, TUP’s cancellation even preceded that of the organizers. The fact that contacts, both old and new, could not be revived as usual was a great pity and gives rise to hopes for the new year 2021 in two senses.

Commitment to sustainability

In 2020, TUP was again in the service of collective rethinking. The construction of the TUP campus in Stutensee, which is characterized by its special design as a passive house with self-sufficient heat regulation thanks to ice storage, is already outside the boundaries of the themed year, but with the decision in favor of this sustainable variant, TUP became a kind of pioneer. The company is always happy to fulfill this representative role. In 2020, too, the company repeatedly opened its doors for events and inquiries in the context of sustainability, for example as part of a theme evening of the Competence Center Network Energy Efficient (KEFF). But with sustainability as a complex concept, further mentions can be made beyond that. For example, in the context of “sustainable corporate management”, for which TUP was selected by the European Institute for Industrial Relations (EIAB) as an example for a book publication. In addition, since last year our Managing Director Mathias Thomas represents the positions associated with such attitudes as a member of the Senate of the Economy Germany. And finally, although as a business enterprise not exclusively out of green motives, we also endeavored to promote concepts and projects that can have a positive influence on the ecology of all of us. For example, the Realtime Urban Logistics System (RULS) or the e-commerce packaging solution nExtCOMbag.

Intralogistics project work

As the central activity of the software manufactory, deliberately in one of the central positions of our eight points. 2020 was definitely not an easy year from an entrepreneurial perspective. This was evident not only in the willingness to invest in new projects, but also in ongoing undertakings, but there was still ample opportunity for TUP to practice what the team does best. Focus terms for project work in 2020 include International Projects, Innovative Solutions, and – in terms of online commerce – unprecedented shipping volumes with many of our project partners. Corona did its part and fueled e-commerce, so that distribution centers were practically on fire. As if this were not already outstanding from the perspective of a “regular” year, the virus caused extensive disruptions and restrictions in public life. Conditions that made things increasingly difficult, especially in international projects – from Austria to Poland to Denmark. Remote work, however, turned out to be by no means a hindrance for the TUP project teams. The team, as a whole at TUP, was once again the star. In spite of contact restrictions up to the omission of contact, it fulfilled it’s challenging milestones 100%. In addition to go-lives, such as at Breuninger or GRASS, some new solutions were applied (e.g. a complete SAP simulation world) or implemented, such as the hybrid picking system (see following image).

Pallets on materials handling technology in the GRASS central distribution center in Hohenems

Double Jubilee Year 2020

If the pandemic had not intervened, there would have been two occasions at TUP to hold its own ‘major events’. Because when the company founder, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Thomas, reaches his 80th birthday and the company itself its 40th year of existence, under normal circumstances the combination demands a degree of celebration worth mentioning. But not in the Corona year. At least not in presence. Needless to say, both special events were given their due credit – and the associated event postponed to an unspecified date in the future. As a consolation, and in combination with the obligatory Christmas party, there were a number of digital events over the Advent period, but more on that in the coming item.

(Corporate) Culture VS. COVID

German hashtags like #nurmitkultur or #sangundklanglos refer to the situation of professional cultural workers in our society – unfortunately, this industry has been hit hard. Although not quite as precarious, culture is also given a very high priority at TUP. The software manufacturer of intralogistics is not only a family business, because the last name Thomas is represented twice in the management. The culture that is always upheld in the daily routine of our work, the collegial get-togethers, joint leisure activities along the special opportunities on our company campus create a unique family atmosphere. This makes it possible not only to enjoy working together, but also to work well together. The explicitly promoted TUP culture stands out in special situations, such as a spontaneously occurring global pandemic. However, quasi-permanent working from home puts it to the test at the same time. Therefore, no effort was spared in order to maintain the special atmosphere: In the course of the year 2020, there were always new variants to get in contact with colleagues with whom one is not directly involved in day-to-day business in a corona-compliant way.
From an initially daily then weekly internal “pandemic magazine” of an uplifting nature,
over participation offers and calls such as joint workouts under the open sky and with sufficient distance, posting a picture of one’s own home office or oneself in suit/dress on Formal Friday, digital board and video games, coffee break conversation partner roulette or Friday after-work drinks via video call,
to larger-scale digital events replacing the Christmas party, such as a guided art tour or, last but not least, an elaborate wine tasting.
As can be seen, a possible lull in the highly esteemed TUP culture was certainly not accepted without a fuss. Especially since this list is not even complete.

Research and knowledge transfer

TUP’s strong scientific background also came to bear in the past year. In addition to various research projects, which were prepared and pursued, various students, both Bachelor and Master, were once again supervised and supported on the way to their theses (e.g. on the benefits of artificial intelligence or the use of metaheuristics in intralogistics). Several TUP staff members were also active as university lecturers – for example, the lecture “IT Fundamentals of Logistics: Opportunities for Digital Transformation” by the aforementioned Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Thomas. The group of academically teaching employees even increased.
Our ‘Forum’ events also took place in the usual rotation, about monthly. Sometimes they were held in person, sometimes digitally – always in accordance with the current pandemic possibilities. But the company was not only productive internally, but also externally. Here on our website, which – by the way – was also successfully relaunched in 2020, we endeavored with a series of articles on buzzwords such as ‘Artificial Intelligence‘ and ‘Analytics‘ to provide well-founded and enlightening assistance to all those interested in these areas. In addition, the wiki platform Logistik KNOWHOW offered by TUP was further expanded. For the first time, the knowledge database is also available in English. In the future, existing contributions will not only be maintained but also translated, and new contributions will from now on appear in two languages.

Retirement of long-standing and highly valued employees

Finally, it is important to mention the farewell of some people who have accompanied and shaped TUP over many years with their personalities and expertise. While the number of departures has been limited in recent years, a whole wave of long-standing colleagues took their well-deserved retirement last year. We would like to take this opportunity to once again express our sincere thanks for the great commitment that the colleagues in question have given to the software manufactory.


To you we wish a happy and healthy 2021 and we look forward to hearing from you.