The quality of tradition. The Kocher story.
Alfred Kocher started in the warehouse technology business in 1964. Alfred Kocher pioneered modern warehousing technology with the development and construction in 1968 of the world’s first automatically operated high-bay system. Completely ahead of his time, it took courage and commitment to convince customers of the value of this innovation – although he was ultimately proved right. A world without automatic high-bay warehouses is inconceivable today.
1964 – Kocher moves into warehouse technology.
Production plant design was already extremely modern in the early 1960s – warehouse technology, on the other hand, was still located in cellars and consisted for the most part of slatted shelving. The “warehouse manager” worked with a chit system to keep production supplied with materials. The first signs of change came from England in the form of perforated rack shelving. The first practical warehouse forms were then developed from standardised three to four metre pre-perforated racks. The next step was to build flow racks with rollers for cartons and larger wheels for pallets, double-decker rack systems for pallets, filing shelves and shelving systems with steel shelf panels. In each case they were built by true artists.
1968 – First high-bay silo built of rolled cold profiles.
Confronted with the problems of constructing 18 metre high built-in shelving which, owing to the high hall and lack of intermediate columns, and the assembly of the shelves in the hall Kocher came up with a great idea: “Why build the hall first and then install the shelving in it? Couldn’t it be done the other way around: first build the shelving and then the walls around it?” Easier said than done: owing to their weight, inappropriate tolerances and design form, the hot profiles typically used at this time in Germany were not suitable for high-bay warehouses.
Especially processed cold-rolled sections would be needed in order to construct high-bay systems.
In early 1968, Kocher finally found what it had been looking for on the European market: a cold-rolling mill willing to roll and work the required profiles according to specific static calculations. Prior to this the use of cold-rolled profiles in building construction work was completely unknown in Germany. After much arduous work and numerous trials, Kocher was finally able to convince structural engineers that this construction method would pass the requisite testing. The company’s founding idea gradually took shape: The first S/R-operated high-bay SILO built to the design still used today.
1970 – Construction of the first narrow aisle warehouse.
“Lansing”, a leading forklift truck manufacturer of the time, glimpsed the future of warehouse technology in height – which was ideal for Kocher. One problem is the basic design of the forklift truck which is not stable enough for great heights. Kocher proposed integrating guide tracks half way up to the shelving instead of just on the ground. The problem was solved. Now a top shelf height of nine metres is possible. The first narrow aisle silo is built via Höchst AG for its subsidiary Madetraf in Brussels.