Spanish family-owned supermarket chain, Mercadona, has purchased multiple automated intralogistics systems from Cimcorp, the company has confirmed.
The solutions are for four of its distribution centers – Zaragoza, San Isidro, Huévar and Sagunto – and now the first one, in Zaragoza, is up and running.
Installation and commissioning at the Zaragoza DC was finalised just before Easter, which is always the busiest time of the year for Mercadona.
“The robustness and reliability of this solution had been verified during assembly and commissioning, and our staff are trained to use it,” commented Javier Blasco, Warehouse Purchasing Co-ordinator for Mercadona. “The simplicity of the automation makes it easy to use and there is no need for a big team.”
Mercadona ordered the same automation for all four of its DCs, although all four of the new logistics facilities will have different climate zones for packed meat products and for fruit and vegetables.
Using the same independent automation modules and scaling the amount of modules to meet the capacity needs of each individual logistics centre, Mercadona gets many benefits. “Having modular solutions has advantages, such as all personnel knowing the installation regardless of which city it is in,” added Blasco. “Additionally, the solutions can be scaled-up and the processes standardised more easily. The best part has been the sturdiness of the application – we haven’t had operational surprises with real orders and we’ve been able to provide a guaranteed service to our stores.”
Even though Covid-19 created some challenges and limitations, the installation was ready on schedule, and it was completed while respecting everyone’s health and safety.
Cimcorp supplied automation to Mercadona back in 2013, when it implemented a fully automated order picking system for fresh produce at the retailer’s DC in Guadix, near Granada. However, the now finalised installation in the Zaragoza DC is the first time that Cimcorp has acted as system integrator for the Spanish company.
In Cimcorp’s fresh food solution there is no need for shelving, which reduces costs and enhances employee and product safety. “In our solution, overhead gantry robots handle food crates that are stacked on the floor,” explained Jarkko Hakkarainen, General Manager of Cimcorp Iberia. “So when you need to clean the area, there’s no need to climb up ladders and check every shelf. Everything is on the floor, where it is safer and more ergonomic to clean.”
“The biggest advantage is the reduction in errors to guarantee a better service for our stores and customers,” noted Blasco. “The main benefit of automation is to secure employee safety and avoid excessive workload.”
Although the total cost of ownership, purchase price and cost of operation affected the decision-making while sealing the deal, Blasco highlighted that, for Mercadona, it is always about people – both employees and customers. “Even if the economic values are important, they’re not the first priority – we prioritise good customer service, taking care of our personnel and doing things in a sustainable way.”
To satisfy the diversity of delivery orders coming into logistics centres, grocery retailers need a fulfilment strategy capable of prioritising orders as they come in. Any last-moment requests entering the supply chain will demand a shorter shipping and fulfilment cycle. “These orders have to be dealt with, without negatively affecting the rest of the fulfilment operations,” concluded Hakkarainen.