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WITRON realizes new fresh logistics center for the NorgesGruppen

Photo: ASKO

Photo: ASKO

Leading-edge perishable concepts with cost-efficient logistics

With a market share of over 39%, a revenue of 8.2 billion Euros, and 30,000 employees, the NorgesGruppen is the leading food retailer in Norway. At the beginning of May 2014, the company awarded WITRON as the general contractor for the design and implementation of a perishable distribution center for the wholesale division named ASKO. Goal of the project is to optimize the logistics of the entire perishable section in a sustainable and cost-efficient manner. In addition, ASKO wants to adapt to future requirements in order to offer their customers an even better service in stores.  

The new logistics center with a size of 242,000 square feet is located in Vestby (South East of Oslo). Starting at the beginning of 2017, it will supply more than 2,500 stores and outlets on a daily basis with over 6,000 different meat, sausage, and dairy products. 

"Consumers have an elevated demand for higher quality especially for these product groups.  Therefore, we require a logistics system that ensures a high level of flexibility, transparency, permanent availability, as well as a gentle product handling throughout the entire material flow", explains ASKO project manager Olav Johnsen. "Moreover, it is important for us to offer an attractive work environment to our employees, as they work within a cooled working area every day. This is an extremely important competitive advantage in Norway, a country with very low underemployment and high ergonomic demands".  

On a peak day, WITRON's picking systems OPM (Order Picking Machinery) and DPS (Dynamic Picking System) will pick more than 400,000 cases onto pallets, roll containers, and into totes in a store-friendly manner. The OPM consists of 14 Case Order Machines (COM) and a 28-aisle tray warehouse with 165,000 storage locations. A modular expansion for full building capacity with 18 COM machines is already considered in the overall concept. The DPS system contains a four-aisle tote warehouse with 86,200 storage locations, 28 picking, and six repack stations.  The area for articles that cannot be picked fully automated is semi-automatic (UC-OPM).  Orders that are pre-picked in the OPM or DPS are efficiently consolidated and completed with further article groups at ergonomic workstations. An efficient order consolidation, containing DPS as well as OPM articles is therefore ensured.    

All customer orders picked in the DPS as well as single-item totes are buffered in a 20-aisle Order Consolidation Buffer (OCB). Moreover, the OCB ensures a customer- and store-friendly sorting of all order totes as well as their route-optimized delivery on pallets or roll containers. A pallet high bay warehouse with six stacker cranes and 15,800 storage locations serves as replenishment warehouse for all logistics areas.  

The highly dynamic perishable logistics will be located in a new building that is to be connected with an already existing logistics facility via a conveyor network. WITRON will integrate a "consolidation system" into the existing building that will be used to consolidate small orders from the new perishable area with pre-picked small orders from other temperature zones (dry, fruits & vegetables, cross-dock).  

These orders, which were pre-picked onto pallets or roll containers from different ASKO warehouses, will be consolidated to compact customer orders by means of the WITRON solution. The pallets and roll containers containing dry goods, fresh products, fruits and vegetables, as well as cross-docking items from the central or regional warehouses will first be stored into a three-aisle pallet warehouse containing 630 storage locations before being manually repacked onto trays. A sophisticated conveyor network system allows to efficiently consolidate the different product groups at six stationary workstations onto one specific load carrier - pallet or roll container. A stacking algorithm perfectly adapted to the product range allows for store-friendly sorting and high packing density. Light pointers show the picker the right storage position on the load carrier. The high degree of innovation and ergonomics reduces the lifting and carrying of goods to a minimum. Thanks to "consolidation", inefficient supplies of only partially filled pallets and roll containers are eliminated. Instead of receiving several load carriers with small orders, the stores will now receive optimally packed and efficiently consolidated pallets and roll containers - which is profitable and ecological.  

All functional areas of the logistics center are efficiently linked and controlled by the WITRON warehouse management system. The mechanical components will be developed and produced by WITRON's subsidiary FAS. These components comprise 72 stacker cranes and almost 5.6 miles of conveyor systems.