In the early 1980s, a group of executives representing the Pittsburgh Technology Council visited Hannover Messe in Germany in hopes of enticing German companies to do business in their city. At this time, Pittsburgh, PA was in the midst of an economic and urban renaissance, having seen collapse of the steel industry and exodus of major corporations, followed by a revitalization of its downtown and directive to attract new types of industry.
While in Hannover, these executives met Joachim Hänel, the chief executive and second-generation owner of Hänel Büro- und Lagersysteme of Bad Friedrichshall, Germany, a manufacturer of automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) founded in 1953. At their behest, Mr. Hänel visited Pittsburgh and was given a grand tour of the city. Upon seeing the view from atop scenic Mt. Washington, he was struck by the similarities between the Western Pennsylvania landscape and the area where he grew up in Southern Germany. He decided then and there that his company would branch out into the United States, and its office would be in Pittsburgh. The US headquarters was established in 1984 as Hänel Storage Systems, and the organization never looked back.
Hänel’s two primary products are the Rotomat® vertical carousel and Lean-Lift® vertical lift module – Machines that allow customers to store more inventory in less space, and accomplish more in less time. By investing in Hänel automated vertical storage systems, customers solve many inventory management problems while saving a significant amount of money in the process, often with a near-instant return on investment.
Vast amounts of floor space can be recovered, up to 80%, by eliminating rows of conventional static shelving, pallet racks and modular drawer cabinets. Hänel units have a very small footprint, but utilize the full ceiling height of any facility, automatically delivering items from storage upon request. Customers utilize every inch of their unused overhead space, allowing them to increase production or otherwise transform storage space into a profit center.
Employee productivity can be increased dramatically by adding automation to the part-picking process, with no more tedious searches for items to pick or restock. Employees can do a significant amount of extra activity in less time, or tasks can be completed with fewer people.
Standardized onboard inventory management systems Improve inventory control by tracking items according to SKU, description, quantity, description, first in/first out, minimum levels or even by using a photo of each product. Customers can improve the accuracy of their inventory to over 99%, and eliminate overstocks, shortages and expired items. Hänel’s industry-leading microprocessor control systems and proprietary software easily interfaces with customers’ host ERP, MRP or WMS systems.
Hänel units can limit access to stored inventory using electronic or mechanical systems that provide an automatic audit trail of activity, for a fingerprint of each transaction. Access can be limited to specific inventory or by specific personnel, using unique log-in credentials, barcode or keycards. Customers know who signed out items and when, which reduces picking/stocking errors and protects inventory from possible contamination.
All items stored in Hänel systems are delivered to a safe, waist height level in accordance with OSHA recommendations, no matter the size or weight. Employees no longer need to bend down to pick up heavy items from bottom shelves, reach up to access bulky items stored above, or awkwardly climb a ladder to retrieve a package. This significantly reduces workplace injuries caused by repetitive muscular motions, which in turn reduces employer insurance payouts, because all items are delivered to the same ergonomically correct location every time.
Hänel products are used for all types of applications, including manufacturing, warehousing, healthcare, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and car dealerships. They store raw materials, work-in-process items and finished goods inventory – Wherever there are parts to be stored, Hänel is there. As supply chains have been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, companies needing to stockpile supplies can do so with Hänel machines, and know that they will always have access to critical inventory without interruption.
Aside from Hänel Storage Systems in the US, Hänel also has affiliate offices in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands, with three manufacturing plants in Bad Friedrichshall and Wiesentheid in Germany and Altstätten, Switzerland. Hänel Storage Systems is responsible for all sales, service and support of customers in the Americas, with the exception of a few countries in South America. Hänel sells through a network of 90 authorized distribution partners in the US, Canada, Mexico and Colombia.
As a privately held family business, the Hänel family has a commitment to future generations with employees as its number one asset, and the corporate philosophy calls for self-sustained, incremental growth. Hänel has been in business since 1953 and in the US since 1984, and has a bright future because its products and solutions can be adapted to any market.
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