Spanish food retailer Mercadona is in the process of implementing a fully automated robotic order picking system, with the help of Cimcorp Oy.
The Finnish robotics specialist Cimcorp will help design and establish the system for Mercadona, which will be applied primarily to fresh produce products, as well as some meat products.
Mercadona’s Guadix distribution center will be the first test-spot for the new robotics warehouse system, which Cimcorp estimates can make order picking six times more efficient than when done manually.
“Due to very fast order processing with Cimcorp’s robots, our customers in retail and food & beverage are able to shorten lead times, which is a critical factor for perishable products with limited shelf lives,” explained Cimcorp CEO Markku Vesa.
Mercadona was the first retailer in Spain ever to use bar-code scanners, so it makes sense that it would be the first to employ robotic technology, as the company is always staying ahead of the curve when it comes to technological innovations.
The company now owns a fully automated logistics center outside of Madrid, with computer monitor deliveries from suppliers and computer-automated organization of shipments to the stores, so Mercadona will be able to take the ball and run with it once Cimcorp’s systems are established.
Cimcorp will design the system in line with its “order-processing island” concept, which uses robotic arms to create an entirely self-sufficient process of receiving goods, putting them away, locating stored items, retrieving certain items, picking crates, and all sorting, preparation and loading tasks used to get orders ready for transport and delivery.
Another feature of the Cimcorp system Mercadona will be using is the Cimcorp 3D Shuttle, a shuttle device that is integrated into gantry robot technology for transporting back and forth. This aspect of the system allows robots to return to storage tasks more quickly, so the process boosts efficiency significantly.
The system will start operation once the construction of its new logistics center--which includes warehouses, a storage and shipment area for dry products, and a bakery--is finished, sometime at the end of this year. In the second phase of construction, fresh produce will be addressed.
Mercadona has made this deal with Cimcorp at a prime time for the company, which has seen a surge in profits from a low point in 2009 to 47 percent growth in 2010.
Edited by Brooke Neuman