Swisslog, a leader in warehouse automation, has delivered an AutoStore system at the distribution centre of leading online supermarket, Ocado, for use in its Speciality Store Ltd general merchandise subsidiary, marking the second installation for this customer.
The online retailer currently has a Swisslog AutoStore in operation at a separate facility North of London, and has chosen to work with Swisslog again to install the system at a second General Merchandising Distribution Centre located in the south-east of London.
Established in 2000, Ocado is one of Britain’s leading online retailers offering customers a simple and convenient alternative to more conventional supermarket shopping. The General Merchandising business has grown rapidly, supplying almost 40,000 product lines and serving over 70% of British households.
Consisting of 72,108 bins, 94 robots, 14 carousel ports and seven conveyor ports, the new solution is expected to increase efficiency and maximise space utilisation at Ocado’s new site. The AutoStore solution is a favourite among Swisslog customers looking for a way to handle single items and small cases in a space-efficient and productive way.
Swisslog UK’s Head of Sales, Shane Faulkner, explains how the retailer’s decision to install the AutoStore solution at a second UK site is testament to its innovative space saving concept and scalability.
“It is one of our flagship solutions,” he said. “It is becoming increasingly popular for businesses to invest in systems that allow them to boost productivity while making the best possible use of their space. With AutoStore, robots collect the required bins and present them at integrated picking stations – meaning maximum efficiency and better space utilisation.”
Ocado’s Richard Locke, Head of General Merchandise, said: “With our first General Merchandise Distribution Centre now operating at capacity, the opening of our second facility creates exciting new opportunities to grow and build on the success we have had in GM in recent years. Using AutoStore with Swisslog again means that we have alignment between our first and second GMDCs, as we are using tried and trusted technology. The added capacity which GMDC2 will also support our first Fulfilled By Ocado partnership with Dobbies, which will be launching this year.”
Robots with transport and lifting functionality operate the system. Equipped with a lift, they retrieve the storage bins from the AutoStore grid and present them at the integrated picking stations, led by a controls and location management system. The AutoStore system combines outstanding storage density with very high flexibility. It fits into existing buildings and makes optimal use of the available area.
Offering more than just increased productivity and better use of space, the solution is scalable, energy efficient and has a favourable total cost of ownership.
Faulkner concludes: “Repeat business from customers proves not only our ability to design the perfect solution for every possible requirement, but it is also testament to our dedication to the performance of systems and long-term customer satisfaction.”