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Flexible fresh food logistics

27 September 2021

Dutch grocer Jumbo is building a 430,000 sq ft automated fresh food logistics centre with high process flexibility, in partnership with integrator Witron.

FROM THE beginning of 2024, the facility in Nieuwegein will supply all stores in the Netherlands and Belgium with almost 2,900 different fresh items with a shelf life of at least 8 days. The CDC is designed for an initial peak picking performance of more than 850,000 units per day. A modular expansion for future growth is part of the overall concept. Furthermore, additional COM robotics lines are being installed in the existing dry goods warehouse during ongoing operations.

“The expansion of our store business, the growth of online shopping, and the increase of our product range - both fresh food and dry goods - demand short response times and high process flexibility. This is where we benefit from innovative and automated logistics systems, which we can scale efficiently as our requirements grow,” explains Karel de Jong, director supply chain at Jumbo Supermarkten. 

In an ambient temperature range of +2 degrees Celsius, the Witron robotic solutions Order Picking Machinery (OPM), Car Picking System (CPS), and All-in-One Order Fulfillment (AIO) automate all material flow processes for all product groups, product sizes, and distribution channels. In the shipping area, the roll containers are consolidated and made available in a mechanised shipping buffer via stacker cranes and heavy-duty lanes - in line with the tour, in the correct sequence, and just-in-time for dispatch.

In addition to high cost-efficiency and flexibility, the logistics designers from Witron focused particularly on reduction of heavy physical processes. The use of leading edge picking and IT solutions provides significant relief. In the future, case picking onto roll containers will be handled by the OPM system with 24 COM robotics lines, in line with store requirements and without the need for personnel. An expansion to 30 COM robotics lines is already considered in the concept. Thanks to the AIO solution, worker walking distances are reduced to a minimum despite highly dynamic piece picking processes, with tote supply and removal from the pick fronts being handled by stacker cranes and conveyor systems. Heavy and bulky products are loaded onto roll containers by the employees in a route-optimised manner - controlled via the CPS - in line with store requirements. Here, too, pallet replenishment in the pick aisles is controlled by automated stacker cranes. 

The expansion of our store business, the growth of online shopping, and the increase of our product range - both fresh food and dry goods - demand short response times and high process flexibility.”

All logistics areas are connected by a 14-kilometre-long conveyor network, which includes a total of 9,500 pallet store locations and more than 600,000 tote- and tray storage locations, as well as 138 stacker cranes.  

Witron was also awarded the contract for the expansion of the NDC in Nieuwegein, which supplies all Jumbo customers with 14,000+ items from the dry goods assortment, in addition to the implementation of the new fresh food central warehouse.  

The existing installation will be expanded by 12 additional COM robotics lines (making a total of 32 COM robotics lines) and enables store-friendly picking of 2.6 million cases per week onto roll containers by mid-2022. With reference to the OPM area, this corresponds to almost 60% higher throughput. The entire conveyor system as well as the automated high bay warehouse, located in front of the COM machines will also be expanded by 6,000 locations and the automated tray warehouse by 176,000 locations. The technology will be integrated into the existing building with a size of circa 485,000 sq ft. 

“The expansion of the logistics centre was already fully considered in the original concept phase,” explains Witron senior vice president NW Europe, Jack Kuypers. “Based on the strong growth of Jumbo and the rapidly measurable economic success of the already operational OPM system for the customer, we are realising the upgrade earlier than originally planned. The OPM, DPS, and CPS solutions installed at Jumbo ensure a very high store and customer service for all distribution channels.”

For more information, visit www.witron.com