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Asda’s AutoStore opens for business

The UK’s largest AutoStore installation has officially opened at the Asda Integrated Distribution Centre (IDC), Lutterworth.

Designed, developed and delivered by Swisslog, a global provider of integrated logistics solutions, the automated goods-to-man materials handling solution was declared open by Asda Retail Director, Mark Ibbotson together with Asda Logistics Services Director, Ian Stansfield, Swisslog SVP of EMEA Andrew Manship and Swisslog UK MD James Sharples.

In a competitive retail environment, AutoStore provides an intelligent storage and retrieval system for small case lines that allows Asda Logistics Services (ALS) to handle a wide range of products in a more space efficient and productive way than before.

Asda Logistics Services has invested in a multimillion pound AutoStore installation, allowing colleagues to pick at twice the rate of the existing process with a 99.8% accuracy using a design concept that is simple yet elegant, providing flexibility for future expansion to the business to consumer market.

Ant Everett, Head of Engineering and Capacity, Asda Logistics Services, comments: "We looked at a number of ways to improve the use of space within our existing distribution centres. Lutterworth IDC is already one of the most complex depots in ASDA’s logistics services network. The ability to reengineer the facility and build a space-efficient and ergonomic application was a key selection factor.

The entire grid was constructed in just seven weeks and incorporates over 70,000 storage bins and 164 robots, linking six ergonomic decant stations with ten goods-to-man picking ports. From the outset, the system enables Asda to manage several thousand different stock keeping units, whilst allowing further phased investments to accommodate more bins in line with the site’s developing requirements.

James Sharples, Managing Director of Swisslog UK, believes the success of AutoStore at ASDA will be closely followed by other retailers. He said: "We are delighted to see the UK’s largest AutoStore installation in action. Innovation and efficiency are at the heart of the service we provide and we are extremely proud of the solution we’ve delivered for one of the most prestigious and respected retailers in the world.

First developed in Scandinavia, AutoStore offers a range of benefits, including the efficient warehousing and order processing of small cases and single items in a very compact area.

The system provides the highest possible rate of space optimisation teamed with extremely dense storage, as robots on the top of the grid automatically store and retrieve goods with minimum space requirements. Compared to traditional automated solutions, AutoStore allows far greater capacity and storage density, with up to 60% more goods stored in the same space as a conventional warehouse.

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