December 17, 2019

Dematic teams with Dot Foods on fully-automated warehouse

Illinois facility to boost efficiency in frozen food distribution with AS/RS, robotics, firms say.

By DC Velocity Staff

Logistics systems integrator Dematic will help to build a fully-automated warehouse for Dot Foods, the largest food industry redistributor in North America, as the grocery fulfillment sector continues to cook up hot growth heading in to 2020.

Last week, the automated grocery fulfillment system provider Takeoff Technologies announced it is expanding its relationship with grocer Albertsons Companies, saying their strategic partnership could accelerate order fulfillment by building "micro-fulfillment centers" (MFCs) to handle e-commerce orders.

That move followed parallel investments such as rival grocer Kroger Co. expanding programs to operate miniature "store-within-a-store" shops inside of Walgreens drugstore sites and to build "customer fulfillment centers" designed by the e-commerce automation vendor Ocado. Dutch grocery giant Ahold Delhaize also said it will spend $480 million to transform and expand its supply chain operations on the U.S. East Coast by building fully automated distribution facilities.

Now Dematic, a unit of material handling and lift truck giant Kion Group AG, will partner on Dot Foods' new 117,000 square-foot facility, located in Mt. Sterling, Illinois--near the state's Missouri border--and designed to provide new efficiencies for frozen food distribution.

Using an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) to manage inventory of full pallets, along with robotics to pick strategic layers of product, the system will be designed to provide Dot Foods with the flexibility to build and configure orders faster and more accurately, increasing order fulfillment capabilities for today's dynamic demand, Dematic said.

"We're taking our toughest picking job in our harshest work environment and transferring that to robots," Dot Foods CEO Joe Tracy said in a release. "This is a way to address our business growth and handle the volume we know will need to move through our Mt. Sterling warehouse in the years to come."

"We do unique things in our business that require human touches — that will not change," Tracy said. "The combination of people and technology will be central to our future growth and allow us to provide exceptional service to our customers."

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