Norwegian AutoStore company opens U.S. headquarters in DerryBy CHRIS GAROFOLO
Union Leader Correspondent
February 25. 2018 9:42PM
DERRY — The Norwegian-based AutoStore has expanded its operations to the Granite State to keep pace with its growing U.S. market, opening a new company headquarters in Derry.
The 20,000-square-foot facility at 3 Corporate Park Drive, expected to be fully operational in May, will employ seven workers — up to five on-site — in 2018.
“This building fit our needs,” said Paul Roy, the general manager-North America for AutoStore.
The company, which patented a robotic-based automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS), will have parts for all distributors across the country from its Derry location, in addition to customer service support and training programs. The site will include a full-working robotic demonstration grid to allow potential customers to experience the benefits of its technology.
The company expects to host live demonstrations and open house events in Derry in the near future.
“In general ASRS is bringing parts to people instead of people to parts. So instead of walking up and down shelving or aisles of shelving looking for stuff, you stand in one spot and the technology brings it to you,” Roy said.
AutoStore can store more inventory compared to conventional storage density and its infrastructure is independent of the building structure, making disassembly and relocation feasible, the company says.
The products are geared toward aviation, e-commerce and other retail markets and are sold by AutoStore distributors.
“It’s much more sophisticated than just a big box that brings out one thing at a time,” said Joe Elie, national sales manager for AutoStore. “If you think about the shape — it’s cube on cube stacked up. We go to the right stack, dig down to the right level, bring that out, present it and put everything back in the same order.”
The U.S. is the largest growth market for the company for modular grid-based robotic storage systems, Roy said, and the Derry facility will help anchor services here. With the new facility, AutoStore can more rapidly distribute, install and service its products by a network of qualified system integrators, the company said in a press release.
The condition and size of the Corporate Park Drive building was a key element in the selection of Derry, the company said. New Hampshire was chosen over other locations because of its access to two major airports and highways and the state’s tax status also made it an ideal location, the company said.
Outside consulting firms say the AutoStore model is appealing because of the small footprint its storage services.
Marc Wulfraat, president of the Montreal-based MWPVL International, said the system is a better way of distributing otherwise slow-moving parts, and because if its unique model the Norwegian company successfully marketed and sold that system.
“They started out in Europe selling that solution, and as time went by they found people in the United States who would sell it for them,” said Wulfraat, whose company designs distribution centers and automated material handling systems.
“AutoStore is a company that has been put in place to sell a solution to the North American market, but it’s competing against these system integrators with whom partnerships were previously set up, so I really don’t know how that’s going to work or if it’s going to work well,” he added. “The beauty of this solution is you could take in a high amount of inventory and squeeze it into a tight amount of space, and put a wall around it so people just don’t get in there and touch the inventory at all. That’s wonderful from a security standpoint.”