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Quick to deploy in full

01 March 2022

Supermarket quickly raises frozen food warehouse to maximum performance with an advanced conveying and automated case picking system.

THE RAMP-UP of the new automated frozen food warehouse of the Spanish food retailer Mercadona in Granada, Spain, was carried out on time by Witron. This is especially impressive as the construction and implementation of the project had to be executed in the midst of the most difficult phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, with all the well-known constraints and conditions. All of this presented organisational and logistical challenges. Nevertheless, the productive ramp-up of the frozen food warehouse was successfully completed after eight weeks and within the contractually agreed time frame. 

Thanks to the efficient cooperation between the project teams of both companies, it was possible to carry out extensive operational and load tests before the productive start. As a result, the intended system performance was achieved just four weeks after the first store was supplied - and this in the middle of the summer season, with constantly growing throughput volumes of the system, which is designed for almost 50,000 cases per day.

Implementation of the project had to be executed in the midst of the most difficult phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, with all the well-known constraints and conditions.

The distribution centre is the sixth fully automated frozen food warehouse that Witron has designed and implemented for Mercadona. Seven COM machines are implemented over an area of approx. 18,000 square metres. Furthermore, an automated high bay warehouse with 7,000 pallet locations as well as a tray AS/RS with 62,000 locations are located in front of the COMs. In addition, pallets from a bread factory in an adjacent building can be stored directly in the automatic pallet warehouse via conveyor network. 

The new system currently supplies more than 170 Mercadona stores in Andalusia. In total, almost 950 Mercadona stores already receive their frozen goods through fully automated Witron solutions. This represents more than 60% of the total stores of the leading Spanish food retailer. Since the first automated Mercadona logistics centre in Madrid was put into productive use more than 15 years ago, the OPM technology has significantly improved workstation ergonomics in the distribution centres - as well as efficiency and cost effectiveness in all logistics processes. 

Omni-channel integration

Showing its versatility, Witron has also recently implemented an automation project for Finnish logistics service provider INEX Partners, which allows the firm to service eCommerce and click + collect fulfillment as well as store delivery from the same distribution centre.

The 68,000 square meter facility near Helsinki used to exclusively supply the group’s 1,000 stores with yearly more than 300,000 different items. 

Faster, more flexible, but with significantly lower logistics costs – this is the process handling directly in the logistics centre. Here, employees pick small-volume items with the semi-automatic DPS (Dynamic Picking System) goods-to-person solution, pick-by-light guided from storage totes or storage pallets into the shipping tote. With the semi-automatic pick-by-voice supported CPS (Car Picking System), large-volume or bulky items are stacked in the pick aisle from the storage pallet or layer trays into roll containers in a route-optimised manner. There is no physical separation between the e-commerce and the store logistics areas. Due to the generally low volume of e-commerce orders, totes used to pick orders for several online customers in parallel are created during the picking process.  

In the following consolidation process, all small-volume and large-volume items are scanned and manually assigned to the respective customer order in a rack shelf, then packed and prepared for dispatch. Single-item orders will bypass the consolidation process. They will be scanned and packed directly from tote to carton. Shipping is also possible in form of click + collect orders to the stores.  

The formation of single items is generated dynamically as required in a separate process prior to picking. The logistics centre also handles all returns, which are returned to stock.

For more information, visit www.witron.com

 
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