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AustriaLangkampfen

Setting A Course

In 2018, Hans Peter Stihl-Straße 5 in Langkampfen saw extensive construction work as an entirely new wing was added, providing 20,000 square meters of additional floor space. This expansion will not only help STIHL Tirol prepare for the upcoming season, but also provide the space needed to support its many responsibilities as the competence center for ground-supported outdoor power equipment within the STIHL Group.

Production Manager Josef Koller cannot hide how proud he is. As he guides a tour group and presents STIHL Tirol’s new facilities, enormous satisfaction with the success of this major project – along with a certain relief – is visible on his face. Although Koller has been responsible for every expansion project during his long career in Langkampfen, the fourth major project was a challenge even for someone with his experience. At a cost of almost 23 million euros, this is the largest single investment in the Langkampfen site, and the biggest expansion in the Tyrol-based firm’s history, adding another 20,000 square ­meters of floor space.

Just over a year separated the groundbreaking ceremony from the official dedication. “That can only work with a hard-hitting team,” Koller emphasizes as he walks through the new complex. This project team worked well together and managed to meet all expectations for quality, budget and schedule.

A challenging but successful construction phase at STIHL Tirol is now behind Josef Koller (left), Production Manager, and Dr. Clemens Schaller, Managing Director. The biggest expansion in the history of the Langkampfen facility was completed within one year.

“Expanding in-house ­production will be an important concern for STIHL Tirol over the ­coming years.”

Josef Koller, Production Manager, STIHL Tirol GmbH

VIKING is now STIHL Tirol

Inside the building, workers are still applying the finishing touches. Outside, there are hardly any signs of the year-long construction project. But one thing is clear for miles around: An orange ­logo stands proudly on the building’s facade, transforming VIKING into STIHL Tirol on the outside as well as on the inside.

VIKING GmbH joined the STIHL Group in 1992, but this marks the full integration of the VIKING brand of ground-supported outdoor power equipment into STIHL orange, following an 18-month brand transformation process. Many adjustments have been made, and a lot of steps taken together. An interdisciplinary and cross-location team was established to set a proper course and identify synergies that brand consolidation would create.

The AutoStore warehouse is one of the many special features of the new space. Melanie Kaupert managed the project: She now has 17 robots at her command to help with storing and dispensing the contents of more than 47,000 ­containers.

STIHL Tirol is not just the competence center for ground-supported outdoor power equipment. The ­location has already made a name for itself for manufacturing a range of STIHL batterypowered products.

Transparency and guidance

The integration allows the Group to enhance collaboration between Waiblingen and Langkampfen, take advantage of the partnership and optimize internal processes. But there are also other benefits. “The merger of the two product ranges harbors great sales and revenue potential by opening up access to new markets, such as the USA and Canada, and offering stronger penetration of existing markets,” says Dr. Clemens Schaller, who has been Managing Director in Langkampfen since May 2018. The Group is also certain that the ­one-brand strategy currently being pursued will offer more transparency and guidance to customers worldwide.

“The company name change and the expansion are important signals, both within the company and to external parties, that the STIHL Group is further strengthening the Langkampfen facility,” Dr. Schaller says. They were also important because the shift from VIKING green to STIHL orange was watched closely in the region – STIHL Tirol is an important employer in this part of Austria. “And of course we want to remain attractive to skilled workers.” Schaller adds that this will be aided through strengthened ties with the broader Group, access to the global manufacturing network and the Langkampfen ­location’s tremendous potential for further development. These changes will ensure that the location is viable and fit for the future, making it a “competence center for ground-supported outdoor power equipment” within the STIHL Group for the long term. The iMow robotic lawn mower, for instance, has its roots in Langkampfen. The ­little mower has to prove its worth every day in a range of specially designed test areas – sometimes at ground level, and sometimes up in the air. That’s because the 3,000-square-meter lawn on the roof of the expanded ­facility offers space for 17 devices and a range of tests.

“The brand change is a clear signal of our belief in our employees’ abilities – and a sign of appreciation for the work that has already been done in Langkampfen.”

Dr. Clemens Schaller, Managing Director, STIHL Tirol GmbH

Room for opportunities

A walk through the production halls and across the grounds reveals that STIHL Tirol not only has more space for smart new minds, but also plenty of opportunities for talented colleagues to flourish. It has more space for research and development activities, the training workshop and prototyping and operating equipment. The facility also has room to expand manufacturing and assembly of groundsupported outdoor power equipment and STIHL battery-­powered products. It features in-house testing facilities with state-of-the-art monitoring and data-gathering systems, similar to those in Waiblingen. What’s more, the gray and rather nondescript exterior walls of the extension contain something very special: a fully automated small parts storage ­facility – the AutoStore warehouse. It has space for all of the location’s containers, boxes and packages of up to 60 x 40 centimeters that are needed to supply manufacturing operations.

“Nobody would think we have a warehouse like this,” Josef Koller says. As if by magic, up to 47,000 containers disappear into a ­labyrinth of squares. These are placed on top of each ­other in stacks up to 16 units high and transported to one of three spaces to be picked from storage by a fleet of 17 robots. One ­major advantage of this facility is that it requires no walkways. This makes optimal use of the available space. The AutoStore warehouse also stands out for its reliability: If a robot malfunctions, another one will automatically take over its fallen comrade’s ­remaining orders. There is also a range of flexible expansion options for the future. The number of robots in the facility can be more than doubled, if needed, and the AutoStore warehouse itself can be expanded to hold more than 66,000 containers.

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Clear aspirations for the future

With the additional floor space, the new opportunities and, not least, the new name, Dr. Schaller’s executive team has clear aspirations for the future. “We want to build up the amount of manufacturing that takes place in-house in order to further cut production costs and take advantage of the economies of scale that higher production volumes facilitate,” Dr. Schaller explains. More specifically, that means thinking about the expansion of in-house manufacturing – and implementing it to the extent that it makes financial sense. “Taking this step would create more jobs and greater stability.”

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