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"Maximum convenience" - logistics automation for "migrolino"

Migrolino AG, headquartered in Suhr (near Zurich / Switzerland), is a 100% subsidiary of the MIGROS-Genossenschafts-Bund. Since 2008, it has been operating smaller and larger convenience stores under the brand "migrolino" through individual franchise enterprises. The shops are primarily located at rail stations, in attractive city locations, gas stations, or rest stops. They are usually open 365 days a year, supplying their customers with every day essentials.  Well-known brands, fresh products like vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meat, different bread types and sandwiches, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and a broad range of kiosk articles are included in their assortment. 

Until recently, the internal process for this business sector had been designed for conventional ogistics systems. Due to their current and expected future growth rates, MIGROS decided to make all logistics processes for their small volume picking more efficient and more economic through the integration of automated logistics and order picking systems. Moreover, they desired their new system also be able to pick items out of the normal MIGROS channel.

The order for design and realization was awarded to the general contractor WITRON Logistik + Informatik GmbH from Parkstein. The systems used will be the OPM (Order Picking Machinery), the DPS (Dynamic Picking System), and the ATS (Automated Tote System), as well as an automated shipping buffer. More than 250 shops will be supplied out of an assortment of some 3,000 articles. Productive use is planned for autumn 2015.

The system is designed for a daily peak performance of 118,000 picks. It will be integrated into the ground floor and the basement at the current state-of-the-art distribution center in Suhr (MVS). That system in Suhr has been operating since 2002 and was successfully expanded in 2009. The order picking system for over 600 MIGROS stores will be done through 28 COM machines that were installed by WITRON in 2009. The already existing pallet warehouse with 84,000 storage locations will serve as a common replenishment warehouse for the MIGROS store business and the "migrolino" business. 

"In addition to a high cost-efficiency, the WITRON concept convinced us also in terms of optimal networking and flexibility of all system components", explains Alexander Schweizer, Member of the Management Board at the MIGROS Verteilzentrum Suhr AG (MVS). "The OPM equipped with five COM machines will be able to stack cases, various beverage formats, and totes of different sizes fully automated onto roll containers. Of course, this will include totes with customer orders that contain small-volume articles and have already been pre-picked in the DPS". A ten-aisle AS/RS with 44,100 storage locations will feed the COM machines. The "migrolino" OPM system will also support the MIGROS store business in case of order peaks.  Also these orders can be handled in a flexible manner through the "migrolino" area. Picking will then be on Euro pallets.

The tote picking system DPS will be divided into two temperature zones - uncooled dry goods and cooled fresh or dairy products (+2 degree C). It will contain a total of 14 picking workstations as well as 20,800 AS/RS tote locations (incl. ATS storage locations).

The ATS solution will fulfill two main tasks. "First and foremost, incoming single-item case stacks filled with fresh products like salad menus, convenience food, meat or sausages will be depalletized, separated, stored, and assembled fully automated to store-friendly units. This also will include the cross-docking business", explains Alexander Schweizer the functionality.  "Secondly, ATS will enable stacking of order totes that have already been pre-picked in the fresh DPS - store- and tour-friendly. The supply of the "migrolino" shops will be on roll containers".

An automated shipping buffer, modularly designed in different temperature zones, will optimize the shipping area and supply the roll containers to the employees in the dispatch area in the right sequence and "just-in-time" for outbound. "The advantage of this method is that the completely picked roll containers can be buffered in the right temperature range in a mechanized manner. Two separate staging areas will no longer be required", according to Alexander Schweizer, mentioning another benefit. 

With the automation of small-volume picking, MVS expects not only a further increase of quality, productivity, and throughput, but also an additional increase of the already high service level for its "migrolino" customers. "And if I consider the success we had and still have together with WITRON in terms of our store business, I am sure that we will successfully manage this new, challenging task", says project leader Schweizer.