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WITRON realizes one of the world's largest food retail logistics centers in Finland

3-D image: WITRON

INEX Partners Oy, the logistics service provider for the leading Finnish trading enterprise S Group, awarded WITRON Logistik + Informatik GmbH, a systems integrator from Parkstein, with the realization of one of the world's largest logistics projects. WITRON prevailed over competing solutions with its cost-efficient storage and picking systems and its experience in the food retail business.  

The distribution center with a size of approx. 1,500,000 square feet will be built in Sipoo, near Helsinki. Ramp-up will be done in five separated sections in the period from mid 2016 until end of 2018. A total of 1,100 stores throughout Finland will be supplied on a daily basis from a full assortment consisting of almost 26,000 different articles - dry goods assortment, perishable goods (+2° C, +4° C, +8° C, +13° C) and frozen goods (-26°C).  

It will be possible to pick more than 1.4 million units on a peak day, using WITRON's automated warehouse solutions OPM with a total of 52 COM machines, DPS, ACS, and CPS across different warehouse areas and temperature zones. Picking will be onto pallets, roll containers, or into totes, and will be performed in an ergonomic and store-friendly manner. The solutions were flexibly adjusted to the logistical requirements of INEX. The fully-automated tote picking system ACS used in the fruits and vegetable sector stacks not only totes but also cartons in a store-friendly manner. With the CPS solution, INEX will be able to pick from pallets and totes by pick-by-voice support, enabling a more compact pick front. An automated dispatch buffer, divided into different temperature modules, controls and optimizes the route-optimized, just-in-time loading of all picked load carriers.

The INEX project is considered the largest individual project in the history of both enterprises.   In total, the distribution center comprises 126,000 pallet locations, 120,000 tote locations, and 650,000 tray locations. More than 230 stacker cranes and several kilometers of conveyor system will transport the goods under the supervision of WITRON's sophisticated warehouse management system through the logistics center.

"With this distribution center we set a new logistical benchmark not only internally but also externally; internally in terms of high profitability and sustainability through the use of energy-efficient technology and ergonomic workstations ensuring permanent benefits for the environment and our employees; externally through a high degree of flexibility and picking quality so that we can offer even better service to our stores", explains Pasi Siilmaa, project responsible logistics manager at INEX, the benefits of the solution. "Based on the precisely coordinated processes - from the supplier, across all areas of the logistics center, and through to the stores - our supply chains are not sensitive to changes in the article spectrum, seasonal impacts, extreme peak days, surprising sales promotions, or holiday fluctuations.  With our new automated storage and picking systems, we will be able to react dynamically and purposefully to any requirement in the future", says Tuukka Turunen, project responsible INEX logistics manager.

The logistics service provider INEX Partners Oy had 2,263 employees in 2012 and posted revenue of EUR 4,846 billion. Retail revenue for S Group amounted to 12,037 billion Euros in 2012. The group has a total of 1,697 stores and employs 43,417 staff members. Their market share in the Finnish food retail business amounts to 45.2% (2011).

INEX has been WITRON's business partner since September 2009. Together they successfully realized a 570,000 square feet General Merchandise logistics center that became productive on-time in April 2012. That logistics center uses WITRON's DPS and CPS systems.