Swisslog, a global provider of integrated logistics solutions, has agreed a contract with supermarket chain Asda, to deliver an automated goods-to-man materials handling solution called AutoStore.
AutoStore, an intelligent storage and retrieval system for small case lines, will be used to handle a range of Asda products in a more space efficient and productive way than its current operation, whilst providing flexibility for future expansion.
Asda is the second largest supermarket chain in the UK, holding around 17.9% market share and, as part of American retail giant Wal-Mart, belongs to the world’s largest retail group. With over 550 stores across the UK, selling more than 35,000 products including groceries, clothing, household goods and electronics, Asda is a leading proponent of warehousing innovation.
Ant Everett, Head of Network Development for Asda Distribution, commented: "We have been looking at a number of ways to improve the use of space within our existing distribution centres. Asda is very excited about the emergence of this innovative technology that will transform the way in which we handle small-case products.
"The IDC is already one of the busiest depots in our distribution network. The ability to reengineer our facility and build a space-efficient and ergonomic materials handling application that can integrate with our existing operation and systems was therefore a key selection factor. The Swisslog design team has shown great aptitude in understanding the needs of our business, and has demonstrated a willingness to customise the application to meet our unique requirements".
Installation will begin shortly on site working around the existing operation. This assembly will be Swisslog’s largest AutoStore installation to date, and will be delivered in two phases. The design incorporates over 70,000 storage bins and 160 robots, linking eight ergonomic decant stations with a dozen goods-to-man picking ports. From the outset, the system will enable 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.
Andrew Manship, Managing Director and Senior Vice President of Swisslog’s Europe Central region, believes the deal is a coup for the UK business, which is rapidly expanding thanks to its latest technology developments. Said Andrew: "Naturally we are delighted to be working with one of the most prestigious and respected retailers in the World. AutoStore is a proven concept that will bring real efficiency savings to the Lutterworth site that will have a positive impact right across the group. Innovation and efficiency are at the heart of the service we provide and we are extremely focused on providing excellent advice and support for this valued customer."
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.