Christmas Story:

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

The Intralogistics Behind (and under!) the Christmas Tree

The Advent season has begun and Christmas is getting ever nearer. What an exciting moment is it when you finally put up your Christmas tree, decorating it with all sorts of festive ornaments. Having everything ready on time for the holidays is dependent on a whole host of intralogistics processes. We take a look at the supply chains and processes behind festive items like Christmas trees and fairy lights, and show how KION brands Linde Material Handling, STILL and Dematic are working behind the scenes to make sure everyone has the perfect Christmas.

The Christmas tree has been a symbol of Christmas for hundreds of years.

The tradition of the Christmas tree, as we know it today, began in Germany in the 16th century, when devout Christians began displaying decorated Christmas trees in their homes. It was apparently Martin Luther—who initiated the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century—who started the custom of displaying lit candles on a Christmas tree. In 1832 a German-born Harvard professor erected a Christmas tree in his home, bringing the tradition to North America. It was from there that—now completely detached from its original religious significance—it spread throughout the whole world.

But how do Christmas trees and decorations make their way into our homes today? That’s where the KION forklift brands and supply chain solutions come in, playing a crucial role in delivering a dash of festive cheer to homes the world over.

Rental Trucks for Millions of Christmas Trees

In Germany alone, around 30 million Christmas trees make their way into people’s homes each year. In terms of logistics, Christmas tree wholesalers like GROEN-Direkt in the Netherlands have a mammoth task on their hands, as they have just three weeks to transport more than 100,000 individual trees from the forestry companies to countless retail outlets. At GROEN-Direkt, electrically powered rental trucks from KION subsidiary STILL have the job of loading the trees, as they lend a helping hand during the peak period in November.

Reliable Supply Chains for Christmas Lights and Tree Stands

Once the tree has arrived in your home, the decoration can begin—and each family has its own traditions (and division of labor!). The most important requirement for anyone with a cut tree is a stable tree stand, which you can buy at most DIY stores along with your Christmas tree lights. Forklift trucks and warehouse handling equipment from STILL come in handy here too, keeping the shelves fully stocked.

Stockholm’s largest DIY store, Bauhaus (previously known as Fredells Byggvarahus) has to deal with enormous deliveries in the run-up to Christmas. The task of unloading the trucks, which arrive at the store in the Swedish capital on a daily basis, is down to 23 STILL forklifts. At the Globus Baumarkt DIY store in Weinstadt-Endersbach, Germany, they have also been relying on trucks from STILL for more than twenty years.

Automated Systems for Festive Decorations

Once the tree is firmly in place and all lit up, it is of course time to add the decorations. These can be found—along with the traditional Poinsettias, door wreaths and many other items of festive floristry–at stores like Dillewijn Zwapack in Amstelveen, Netherlands. In 2019, Dematic fully automated the Dutch wholesaler’s distribution center, which handles the packaging solutions for the company’s flowers and floristry items. The center is home to 14,000 pallets, and up to 300 of them—full to the brim with Christmas tree baubles, etc. during the holiday season—are stored and retrieved every day.

Even in Australia, where Christmas is in the height of summer, people decorate Christmas trees—including with the range of sparkly baubles and lights from Big W. The discount department store chain has more than 182 branches across Australia and Asia, as well as an extensive online range of homewares and decorative items, and much more besides. In 2012, Dematic set up the company’s distribution center in Hoxton Park, Sydney, for which it received both the Australian Supply Chain award and the Logistics Award. The cutting-edge distribution center is home to a series of automated solutions, including Australia’s first ever multi-shuttle, which set new standards in the field of automation ‘down under’. The new center gets Christmas tree decorations out into people’s homes—and onto their trees—faster than you can say “Santa’s coming”.

High Lift Pallet Trucks and Forklift Trucks for Treats Under the Tree

The joy of decorating the tree wouldn’t be the same without a few tasty festive treats to hand—preferably mulled wine and ‘Lebkuchen’ (or gingerbread), with the classic aromas of cinnamon and cloves. The wine traditionally used to make the hot festive beverage comes from the south of France, where the wine logistics company SICSOE has been working with rental trucks from Fenwick-Linde since 2016. During the harvest period and times of peak demand, the extra support is a welcome help when it comes to transporting the valuable vines and high-quality wines.

Lebkuchen (or gingerbread) is traditional baked Christmas treat enjoyed throughout Europe. As soon as they are ready, the biscuits are stored in tins, as it takes a few weeks for them to reach their classic consistency and for the delicate flavor to develop. The beautifully decorated tins, which are often kept by families for many years to come, are produced in the main plant of French metal packaging manufacturer Massilly in Cluny. Here, three fully automated Linde L-MATIC pallet stackers are on hand to load the colorful biscuit tins, along with quality metal packaging for many other food items and products.

Smart Warehouse System is the Bow on Top of the Gift!

When Christmas Day arrives, of course it wouldn’t be Christmas without the gifts under the tree—all wrapped up in festive paper and tied with a pretty ribbon. And just like the Christmas tree decorations, at Dillewijn Zwapack in the Netherlands and Big W in Australia, the perfect wrapping paper is distributed by the fully automated systems from Dematic. The ribbons come from gift and decorative ribbon manufacturer C.E. Pattberg GmbH & Co. KG. To provide the best possible support to Europe’s largest manufacturer of gift ribbons, in 2018 Dematic installed an AutoStore system at the company’s headquarters in Hattingen, Germany, resulting in enormous space savings. While the company used to need 6,000 square meters of storage space, the hundreds of small single items now fill a floorspace of just 170 square meters. The extra room can now be used for other purposes, like preparing large orders for shipping—which is a pretty regular occurrence during the holiday season!

As you can see, KION brands are busy at work in all four corners of the globe to make sure that all our wishes come true at Christmas time. We wish you a very happy holiday surrounded by your loved ones—which will hopefully be spent gathered around a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.


About Dematic

Dematic is an intralogistics innovator that designs, builds and supports intelligent, automated solutions for manufacturing, warehouse and distribution environments for customers that are powering the future of commerce. With engineering centres, manufacturing facilities and service centres located in more than 25 countries, the Dematic global network of 10,000 employees has helped achieve more than 6,000 worldwide customer installations for some of the world’s leading brands. Headquartered in Atlanta, Dematic is a member of KION Group, one of the global leaders in industrial trucks and supply chain solutions, and a leading provider of warehouse automation.


Media Contact

Jessica Heinz
Dematic GmbH
Director Marketing and Communications CE
Martinseestr. 1
63150 Heusenstamm
Phone: +49 69 583025 125
Mobile: +49 172 65 98 590