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Witron: Automated Supply Chain Solution for Canadian grocery retailer Sobeys

Canada's second-largest grocery retailer, Sobeys Inc., invests in state-of-the-art warehouse and picking technology. The retail chain plans to build an automated distribution center in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. The new distribution center is expected to tighten Sobeys' supply chain while improving the service level for dry grocery delivery to its 360 stores within the province.

Planning and implementation of the new distribution system is the responsibility of Witron, a leading systems integrator based in Chicago, USA. Witron's scope includes the delivery, installation, and start-up of all material flow components. Automation equipment includes 11 AS/RS pallet cranes that service 38,000 locations and 32 AS/RS miniload cranes with access to 340,000 tray locations. As the systems integrator, Witron manages all processes below Host level with its own IT, material flow, and control applications.

The new distribution center is unique in that the majority of case picking will be completely automated through the use of Witron's proprietary “OPM” picking system (Order Picking Machinery). Order pallets will be automatically assembled by 16 “picking machines” that are installed on two-levels within the warehouse. These picking machines will be fed by the tray AS/RS system, which will also be constructed on two levels. A three-aisle “pick to pallet” system with voice control and automated replenishment will supplement the fully automated system in order to handle peak volumes as well as bulky goods.

The design of Sobeys' new distribution center will facilitate future extensions, with space allocated for addition picking systems to be implemented during operation of the warehouse. Ground breaking for the new distribution center is planned for August 2007, with productive use expected in the spring of 2009.

Stellarton, NS (CAN)/Arlington Heights, IL (USA) – April 19th, 2007

Witron Logistik + Informatik GmbH

Witron Logistik + Informatik GmbH was founded in 1971, with its headquarters in Parkstein, Bavaria, Germany. With over 35 years of experience and 2,000 projects under its belt, Witron ranks among the industry leaders in the design and implementation of automated logistic systems. In addition to providing design and systems integration, Witron acts as general contractor, with overall responsibility for project cost, timeline, and functionality during all project phases through installation and ramp-up. Witron also offers extensive customer support programs that provide service over the complete system life cycle. Witron employed 720 people worldwide with an annual turnover of approximately 200 million Euros as of the 2005 financial year. Witron has subsidiary locations for business development and customer support in Arlington Heights/Illinois (USA), Buckinghamshire (UK) and Venray (Netherlands)

TEL. 01494 681 222

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