Grocer Kroger to Expand Distribution Center With KNAPP Automation

Kroger is investing in KNAPP OSR Shuttle Evo robots and RUNPICK palletizers; GEODIS also to deploy KNAPP systems.

Business Wire

The high-performance KNAPP RUNPICK palletizer.

The Kroger Co. last week said it plans to expand its Great Lakes Distribution Center in Delaware, Ohio, with partner KNAPP AG. Kroger, which claims to be the largest grocer in the U.S., said it will add new technologies to the facility renovation, which it expects to be completed this summer.

“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,” stated Tony Lucchino, vice president of supply chain and network strategy at Kroger. “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.”

Cincinnati-based Kroger said its family of companies employs nearly half a million associates who serve over 9 million customers daily through digital shopping and 2,800 retail food stores. The grocery retailer has recently partnered with Ocado Group PLC on automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) for e-commerce order fulfillment and with Drone Express on testing drone deliveries.

Kroger to grow DC, add more automation

Kroger's distribution center (DC) opened in 2003 and currently services 115 stores in central and northwest Ohio, as well as southeast Michigan and the Ohio River Valley region. During the renovation, the company will expand the facility by 130,000 sq. ft. (12,000 sq. m).

“This collaborative project will allow us to better serve customers in the region,” Lucchino said.

“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,” said Delaware City Manager Tom Homan.

The site uses a unique combination of KNAPP OSR Shuttle Evo for order, storage, and retrieval. The autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) deliver grocery cases in an exact sequence to RUNPICK robotic palletizers, delivering next-generation efficiency and performance increases for Kroger’s supply chain network, said KNAPP.

“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,” said Josef Mentzer, CEO of KNAPP.

Austria-based KNAPP provides systems and software for production, distribution, and point of sale. The company, whose North American headquarters are in Atlanta, has about 5,000 employees worldwide. KNAPP said it supports healthcare, retail, apparel, food, manufacturing, and e-commerce sectors.

KNAPP today also announced a $52 million partnership with supply chain operator GEODIS to introduce a highly automated order-fulfillment system that will move about 850,000 units per day for a leading specialty retailer.

“The solution developed in collaboration with GEODIS and KNAPP engineers is specifically designed to address key strategic and growth factors resulting from the rapid growth in e-commerce demand,” said Jusuf Buzimkic, chief sales officer at KNAPP. “The technology platform will reduce the challenge of hard-to-find labor, while simultaneously delivering a solution that is flexible, scalable, and minimizes the variable cost per order.”

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Business Wire

The high-performance KNAPP RUNPICK palletizer.

Robot Technologies