Tesco has taken a major step forward in handling the picking and delivery of groceries ordered via the website by building a dedicated Dot Com facility, known internally as a DCOS, (Dot Com Only Store). Vanderlande Industries built the material handling system.

Orders coming in from the website were previously processed in Tesco Superstores in the area. Personal Shoppers hand-picked products directly from store shelves, which were then delivered by small fleets of vans based at the stores. Tesco needed to reduce the impact of the Dotcom operation in certain stores at the same time addressing space constraints for the Van numbers in particular geographic areas, with a store-based order fulfillment model. This led Tesco to re-evaluate the potential for a dedicated facility. Tesco selected Vanderlande Industries to explore this potential, which resulted in a successful partnership in Aylesford DCOS (South East England). Vanderlande supplied the material handling system for the order consolidation process and the release and sortation of the consolidated orders to the delivery vans. In addition to controlling storage and release of the customer orders, Vanderlande systems also control the vehicle dispatch management process (assigning vans to docks and orders to vans). Tesco also awarded Vanderlande a 24/7 on-site maintenance and support agreement for the next five years. The quality of Vanderlande’s equipment, software and engineering processes has encouraged Tesco to continue with their roll-out programme for these facilities. The system was also installed in a new dedicated facility in Greenford (NW London). It is a direct copy of the first system, which went live in October 2008. The Greenford system became operational in 2010.

At the start of the day, order details and van schedules are downloaded from the Tesco Host to the Vanderlande control system. Stock in the dedicated “store” is laid out exactly like a supermarket, except that the “customers” are replaced by order picking staff. Pickers pick product from shelving into plastic customer order crates held on trolleys. A picker can pick up to six customer orders simultaneously, spread across van routes. Completed orders are brought to a manually loaded infeed line, which takes the crates to a consolidation buffer mounted on a platform. Underneath the platform offices and warehouse space have been created, making efficient use of building space. The consolidation buffer consists of a 3-aisle QUICKSTORE HDS AS/RS system. Each aisle is split into two vertical modules, equipped with 6 shuttles per aisle (18 shuttles in total). Each shuttle can access 3 levels of shelving. The customer order crates are spread throughout the HDS consolidation buffer and held until a predefined release time of complete delivery van loads. When empty vans are assigned and directed to a loading bay, the driver will indicate the van’s presence to the HDS to initiate release of all ambient orders destined for that van. The HDS will release crates to be sorted and loaded in reverse drop sequence. On exit from the site the van is scanned and that load deleted from the system.

The first DCOS in Aylesford opened in October 2008. It is proving to have a quick payback time in freeing up expensive retail sales space in existing superstores and enabling faster growth of Dotcom sales. Other benefits include improved accuracy, traceability and a reduction in product damage. The second DCOS in Greenford became operational in 2010.

To learn more about home shopping order fulfilment, visit our website at:

Vanderlande Industries

Esther Kuppens, Senior Communications Manager

Tel: +31 (0)413 49 5152

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