Körber Builds First Automated Warehouse on Philippine Island for BigBlue Logistics

Global supply chain solutions expert increases sustainability for food cold storage warehousing and distribution specialist by making the most out of space in the new cooled facility.


Concept of cold-storage ASRS in new BigBlue Logistics warehouse.
BigBlue Logistics faced challenges including scarce labor, limited space, and the need for environmental sustainability. Körber is helping to build an ASRS for cold storage.

Körber AG this month announced that it is working with BigBlue Logistics Corp. on a deep-freeze warehouse to reduce energy consumption and increase productivity and maintain its rapid growth in the Philippines. This will be the first automated warehouse on the island of Cebu in the central Philippines.

“Today’s supply chains are complex— even more so for chilled goods,” said Win Thian Chai, CEO for Asia automation at Körber Business Area Supply Chain. “Stricter regulatory requirements and higher customer demands, all while striving to keep energy consumption low, are just a few of the challenges our customers have to deal with.”

BigBlue Logistics Corp. (BBLC) said it is the premier cold storage provider in the Philippines. Starting with 1,000 pallet positions when it opened its first location in Mandaue City, Cebu, in 2002, the company has increased more than 60 times in the past two decades.

BBLC said it is committed to provide the fastest, most reliable, and efficient service to its customers using the latest technologies available. BigBlue is working with relevant government organizations and partners to ensure food safety and security in their daily operations.

In addition to fostering relationships with the local community, BigBlue is working on environmental sustainability. Since 2015, the company has installed solar panels in all new facilities, accounting for over 30% of its energy usage. It has also committed to using energy-efficient equipment as part of these efforts.

BigBlue strives for efficiency

BBLC was facing several challenges, including a lack of labor and the health and safety challenges posed by cold storage. In addition, the company wanted a solution that would allow it to expand operations given the limited amount of land available, as well as reduce high energy usage from heat loss in its manual freezer warehouse.

BigBlue needed a partner with extensive automation and supply chain expertise. Körber designed a concept consisting of a -28°C (18.4°F) automated high-bay warehouse with five 30-meter (98.4 ft.)-tall automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS). This optimized space by allowing higher storage density per square meter.

Furthermore, the stacker cranes contain energy recuperation units, reducing energy consumption by up to 35%. This, combined with the new warehouse’s smaller footprint, reduced heat loss, so the building needs less energy to be cooled. The system is controlled by Körber’s warehouse control system (WCS), which interfaces with the customer’s SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

ASRS to address labor issues

The ASRS will also provide a safer environment for staff and increase efficiency, said Körber. It removes the need for manual storing and put away of goods in the sub-zero warehouse. Plus, it can improve operational efficiency by maintaining a consistent temperature by operating in a closed space without human interference.

In addition, the storage system will require fewer staffers, helping BigBlue to cope with labor challenges. As a result, the company said it can use technology to expand to the next level.

“We were impressed by the strong commitment from all levels within Körber throughout the entire project,” noted Nikolaus Stumpf, project manager at BigBlue. “The fact that the Körber team was also able to understand and address our questions and concerns promptly with profound technical and operational knowledge made us confident that they are the right partner for us.” 

“With the use of our automated system and warehouse control software, BigBlue is actively tackling [these challenges], setting the course for further growth with Körber,” said Win Thian Chai.

The companies said they expect the automated warehouse begin operations in the second quarter of next year.

Körber was the general contractor for Lieken, a manufacturer of bakery products, to build a new deep-freeze high-bay warehouse.

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Concept of cold-storage ASRS in new BigBlue Logistics warehouse.

Robot Technologies