The Mercadona supermarket chain is a market leader in Spain’s grocery retail sector. The group has more than 1,600 stores across Spain and employs some 76,000 staff to serve 5 million Spanish households. For its new distribution center in Guadix, Granada, the company invested in robotic automation for the handling of its fresh produce, which has minimized handling times to maximize product freshness and shelf life.
The new distribution center was designed to handle 6,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) and shift more than 3.5 million cubic feet of merchandise per month. The facility features zones for various product types: one for dry produce; two for refrigerated products at temperatures of 3ºC and 12ºC; one for frozen products at -23ºC; and a production area for bread. The new robotic storage system (Cimcorp) automates the picking of full crates of fresh fruit and vegetables in the refrigerated zones, where around 300 different SKUs are handled in some 30,000 crates each day. In addition to the robotic system, the system supplier provided crate stackers, the conveyor system and a warehouse control system (WCS) to manage the material flows.
Full tracking and tracing is possible, with all movements of goods being communicated to the host system without the need for bar codes or RFID tags. Greater flexibility is provided through the high level of redundancy of the robotic solution; this allows Mercadona to adapt its operations to meet daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal fluctuations.