XPO Logistics Inc. has built an “innovation hub” for testing new warehouse technologies into a British distribution center it operates for the food and beverage brand Nestlé, the company said today.
XPO and Nestlé said the new site has now begun full operations following a phased opening and a design process that began in 2018. Working in conjunction with logistics tech provider Swisslog Logistics Automation, XPO built the 638,000-square-foot “Digital Distribution Warehouse of the Future” in Leicestershire, on a railhead in central England about halfway between Manchester and London.
The facility uses robotics, automated sorting systems, and XPO’s intelligent analytics to deliver efficient distribution of Nestlé products, including KitKat, Maggi, and Nescafé.
Greenwich, Connecticut-based XPO has been ramping up operations at the site since mid-2020, handling goods produced by 11 Nestlé U.K. manufacturing sites alongside those imported from several markets worldwide. In addition to delivering the high volume of retail products associated with Nestlé's food, dairy, nutrition, beverage, and confectionery ranges, the site also manages e-commerce fulfillment for the Nespresso brand, a retail solution for Nespresso Boutique stores, and value-added co-packing for a wide range of Nestlé food products.
And even as it processes those daily operations, the site serves double duty as an incubator to test new ways of addressing logistics needs, XPO says. The company will conduct real-life operating trials of promising technologies and will showcase innovations to customers. The facility is also designed as a multi-user space to accommodate solutions tailored to the needs of different logistics operations.
"We're delighted to launch this milestone facility officially," Malcolm Wilson, XPO’s chief executive officer – Europe and the incoming CEO of XPO’s contract logistics spinoff, known as GXO, said in a release. "Nestlé and Swisslog are trusted strategic partners of XPO, and they believe, as we do, that the best way to deliver excellence in the present is to maintain a strong focus on the future. We're pushing the boundaries of supply chain thinking and disrupting the industry in the most positive sense."