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WITRON technology in France

With a revenue of 38 billion Euros and a market share of 18.3%, E. Leclerc is currently the largest food retailer in France. As numerous food retailers in Europe and North America before, E. Leclerc's regional company SCAPAlsace is the first French food retailer to place an order for an automated picking system with WITRON Logistik + Informatik GmbH, the general contractor from Parkstein. Starting in 2014, E. Leclerc will use WITRON's OPM (Order Picking Machinery) for automated case picking, DPP (Display Pallet Picking) for the picking of half pallets directly in the automated pallet high bay warehouse, a fully-integrated layer picking system for supplying fast movers to hyper markets, and CPS (Car Picking System) for the picking of bulky products.

From their new site near Colmar, SCAPAlsace will supply some 50 hypermarkets, and an additional 50 supermarkets and e-commerce pick-up locations with nearly 10,000 dry goods articles throughout the sales regions of Alsace, Franche Comté, and Bourgogne. While French supermarkets are comparable in size to those in Germany, French hypermarkets are typically 86,111 to 129,617 square feet. E. Leclerc's e-commerce orders are picked at "drives", small local picking warehouses with a size of approx. 16,146 to 21,528 square feet. These "drives" also serve as pick-up locations (drive-in) for customers who can quickly and conveniently obtain the goods they have ordered via the Internet.  

"When we saw the WITRON systems in live operation at another food retailer, we were immediately sure that this is the right solution for SCAPAlsace", according to Said Bindou, CEO of the regional company SCAPAlsace. "For us, this is a pioneering and strategic step in terms of cost-efficiency, pick quality, and pick capacity and especially workstation ergonomics in both logistics as well as in our stores. The upcoming changes in our industry-sector make this decision necessary". The new ergonomics regulations in France will reduce the maximum pallet height in the stores to 1.79 meters. "In order to maintain our transportation cube, we will change to double-stack loading, which in turn means an additional pallet height reduction to 1.2 meters and a 50% increase in the number of pallets produced. For our productivity, it is decisive that the resulting increase of pallets can be automatically picked and transported".

With WITRON's solutions, it is possible to supply up to 254,000 cases on a peak day. A major part of this volume will be picked in the OPM system onto Euro pallets - store-friendly and free from any pick errors by means of the COM machines and based on an efficient stacking algorithm according to the individual requirements of the respective market like store layout, shelf stocking, etc.  

Picking of bulky goods will be done in the CPS system with pick-by-voice technology. Based on automated replenishment with stacker cranes, the CPS pick front will be optimized according to the current order structure. This arrangement allows a permanent availability of goods within the picking aisles and provides a reduction in picking travel distances.

The picking of mixed pallets sorted according to layers for fast moving articles that are supplied to the hypermarkets in large quantities will be performed with two fully integrated layer pickers connected to the CPS system. These two layer pickers will be automatically supplied with goods from the CPS stacker cranes. Each layer depalletizer will remove the goods layer-wise from a single-item pallet, place them onto an order pallet, and build customer-specific mixed pallets with different articles sorted according to layers.

Moreover, the supermarkets will be supplied with half pallets that will be placed as displays in the market. The picking of different half pallets onto a Euro pallet will be fully automated directly in the high bay warehouse.  

Finally, an outbound buffer will optimize the consolidation of the customer orders from the individual picking areas and take care of the exact and timely provision to route-specific outbound lanes.

WITRON's innovative technology will be implemented within an optimized footprint of only 344,445 square feet. As general contractor, WITRON will not only be responsible for the logistics design, but also for the supply and start-up of all IT, control, and mechanical components. Maintenance and service will be completely covered by a WITRON on-site team, ensuring a permanent high availability for the entire system.