Kroger brings robotics technology to Great Lakes distribution center

The Kroger Co. is bringing automation from logistics technology provider Knapp to its Great Lakes distribution center in Delaware, Ohio.

Cincinnati-based Kroger said Friday that the DC will use a combination of Knapp order, storage and retrieval (OSR) shuttles that deliver grocery cases in sequence to Knapp’s RunPick robotic palletizers, adding “next generation” efficiency and performance to the grocer’s supply chain network.

The Great Lakes DC is currently being renovated for installation of the robotics technology, according to Kroger. Due to be completed this summer, the project will add 130,000 square feet to the facility, growing it to nearly 900,000 square feet.

The Kroger Co.

In the Knapp system, order, storage and retrieval shuttles deliver grocery cases to the solution provider’s RunPick robotic palletizers (above).

“Kroger’s investment in Knapp’s latest technology allows the Great Lakes distribution center to improve efficiency in replenishing our stores, enabling us to quickly deliver fresh food to our customers. The expansion of the facility is part of the ongoing transformation of our supply chain network, and this project will more than double our capacity while delivering innovation and scalability that can grow with demand,” Tony Lucchino, vice president of supply chain and network strategy at Kroger, said in a statement. “This collaborative project will allow us to better serve customers in the region,” he added.

Opened in 2003, the Great Lakes DC serves 115 Kroger Co. supermarkets in central and northwest Ohio, southeast Michigan and the Ohio River Valley region.

“This transformation by Kroger will further improve the speed and service that the company delivers to its customers and reaffirms Delaware’s leading role in the region as a hub for logistics and distribution excellence,” stated Tom Homan, Delaware city manager.

Austria-based Knapp, which has its North American headquarters in Atlanta, provides intelligent intra-logistics solutions and specialized software for production, distribution and point-of-sale applications, serving such business sectors as, retail, food, health care, apparel, manufacturing, and e-commerce.

“The technology investment in the Great Lakes distribution center has been designed to add a new level of flexibility to the Kroger supply chain network and deliver a resilient approach to investments in automation,” Knapp CEO Josef Mentzer commented.

Recently in Ohio, Kroger launched the first of 20 planned Ocado-powered automated warehouses for filling online grocery orders. The 375,000-square-foot customer fulfillment center (CFC), located in Monroe and going into operation in April, uses artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and automation to enable more seamless and efficient fulfillment, picking and delivery. So far, Kroger has announced 10 Ocado CFCs. Besides the Monroe facility, they include locations in Groveland, Fla.; Forest Park, Ga.; Dallas; Frederick, Md.; Phoenix; Pleasant Prairie, Wis.; and Romulus, Mich., as well as two unspecified sites in the Pacific Northwest and West.

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