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SPAR Central Distribution Center in Wels starts full operation

Image: Leitner, Schlosser, Poppmeier, Stich, Gleiss, Thallinger (free of charge © SPAR/Wakolbinger):

Image: Central Warehouse Wels - exterior view (free of charge © SPAR/PG Studios):

Image: Central Warehouse Wels - detailed view (free of charge © SPAR/Wakolbinger):

Image: Central Warehouse Wels - internal view (free of charge © SPAR):

Security of supply, faster transportation routes, and a lower error rate - the logistics center in Wels is the most advanced and most efficient of its kind. Due to the permanent growth of the SPAR Oesterreich-Gruppe and the resulting increase of the product flow, the central warehouse has been expanded for its third construction stage to meet future challenges. Project partner for the expansion is WITRON Logistik + Informatik. After two years of expansion work and an investment of some 45 million Euros (40 mil. USD), the warehouse will now start full operation. 

Designed for a daily output of 80,000 cases per day, the logistics center, which is the central hub for the product supply of 1,600 SPAR locations across Austria, handled more than 155,000 cases daily in 2013. This made the central warehouse in SPAR exceeded its capacities. “We have continuously expanded in recent years. Growth also calls for ongoing enhancements and optimization of the logistics processes. As a full service provider it is our mission to supply all of Austria with goods”, says SPAR Vice President of logistics Mag. Fritz Poppmeier. Supported by its strong partner, WITRON Logistik + Informatik from Bavaria, SPAR continues to speed up its state-of-the-art logistics processes and further expands its innovative leadership. “We are well prepared for future challenges”, says Poppmeier.

Continuous modernization
A fully automated storage and case picking and palletizing system called OPM, a high bay warehouse, roll containers, and optimization of the receiving and dispatch area - with the support of WITRON, SPAR realized the state-of-the-art technology on a total surface of 30,000 square meters / 323,000 square feet. The entire existing system can be used more efficiently and be optimally integrated into the existing building using a network of conveyor system lanes. An additional benefit of the new warehouse is the number of pallet storage locations in the automated high bay warehouse that can be increased from 22,500 to 40,000. Specific product groups such as wine can be stored at constant temperatures in the lower parts of the high bay warehouse.

Fully automated storage and picking system 
The core component of the warehouse is the fully automated storage and picking system OPM (Order Picking Machinery), which is unique within Austria’s retail business. Some 4,000 items, especially large-volume products such as wines stored in the central warehouse, will be re-stored from the crate warehouse to the new OPM storage area and picked onto roll containers in a store-friendly manner. What is special: Upon receipt of an order, the systems calculates the position of the items on the roll container using the size and the weight of the packaging unit, and will then stack these products according to a perfect stacking pattern without any gaps, if possible. This exact stacking process allows the shipment of more products on roll containers. Up to 66,000 dispatch units daily can be picked and dispatched in the third construction section of the central warehouse. Based on the new storage logic of the goods in the new and old warehouse area (large-volume items will be stored in the new construction area), the filling degree per tote in these areas can be significantly increased. The dispatch output in this area will be simultaneously increased by an additional 20 percent. “The recently completed expansion provides a significant increase in performance and turnover, and ensures an ultra-modern dispatch handling. The results after the first weeks in full operation are more than satisfactory”, emphasizes Jakob Leitner, CEO of SPAR-Zentrale Marchtrenk. 

Logistics center strengthens warehouse structure of SPAR
“Now, after the expansion is completed, the enlarged and modernized warehouse is able to handle a peak performance of up to 300,000 units per day”, says Martin Gleiss, Manager at SPAR Logistics. With a performance of 45 million packing units per year, the warehouse has still not reached its capacities. “Wels has been designed to handle 50 million packing units - so we have capacities for the future already”, according to Gleiss. Thanks to the available capacities, the logistics center takes pressure off all six SPAR central warehouses across Austria. Bottlenecks in the material flow can be largely avoided allowing us to speed up the delivery process.

WITRON and SPAR: long-standing, strong partners
In addition to construction stage one in 1998 and construction stage two in 2002, WITRON Logistik + Informatik GmbH from Bavaria (Germany) is also the responsible general contractor for the third construction stage. The delivery and performance scope comprises the concept and realization of all material flow, IT, control, warehouse management, steel construction, and mechanical components. A WITRON on-site team with 55 members located directly at the SPAR facility will be responsible for the entire service and maintenance of the system and ensures a permanent high availability of all logistics components. “Together, we were able to implement a flexible and cost-efficient overall solution that adapts flexibly to the permanently changing challenges in food retail logistics”, as said Helmut Prieschenk, CEO WITRON Logistik + Informatik GmbH, about the successful cooperation.

SPAR and logistics
The six regional headquarters with one logistics center each in Dornbirn (Vorarlberg), Woergl (Tyrol), Marchtrenk (Upper Austria), St. Poelten (Lower Austria), Graz (Styria), and Maria Saal (Carinthia) are responsible for the support and supply of the Austrian stores of SPAR in the respective region. The structure, which grew from the company’s history and is locally anchored is unique and seems to be a competitive advantage of SPAR. Due to the ongoing expansion, SPAR is permanently enlarging its logistics network. The goal is to speed up the shortest possible transportation routes, to ensure supply reliability of the SPAR stores throughout Austria, and to sustainably relief the regional warehouses across Austria. With the expansion of the central warehouse in Wels and the new construction of the seventh SPAR warehouse in Austria - the logistics center Ebergassing (Lower Austria) - SPAR is well-prepared for future challenges.