High product availability is key

Established in 1949, Asda has grown to become one of the UK’s leading supermarket chains. From its distribution centre (DC) in Warrington, it supplies over 125 stores across the northwest region of the UK.

Serving its stores

With the building of the new DC in Warrington, Asda was looking to increase and maintain the high availability of products in store. “High product availability is key,” says Asda’s Senior Manager Engineering David Marshall.

“Our intention was to put more volume through a single depot in a smaller footprint,” adds Asda’s General Manager Tom James. “This would allow us to become more cost-effective while providing a better pick accuracy.”

The wellbeing of its employees was also an important consideration. “We pride ourselves on being an ethical and colleague-centric business,” says David. “While the main aim is store service, the only exceptions on site are the safety and welfare of our colleagues.”

An integrated solution

The ideal match for Asda’s brief was Vanderlande’s automated case picking (ACP) solution. The 28,600m2 DC now handles 840,000 cases per day and processes 7,800 SKUs.

The process on site begins with the receiving of goods on pallets, which subsequently enter the high-bay storage zone. This 30-metre high, double-deep, racking system uses nine cranes to store pallets in one of 27,000 locations.

Products are retrieved according to the orders received from stores. After depalletising, individual goods are transferred in trays to the high-density storage (HDS) area, where two Vanderlande POSISORTERs perform a key role.

Goods are stored in 175,000 locations across 42 aisles and transported via a system of 252 shuttles. Once pulled from the HDS system, products are sent to one of 21 workstations, where new pallets are built in line with the requests from individual stores.

Moving forward together

“As a company, we need to trust that the ACP solution can deliver cases every minute of every day,” says David. “Thanks to the automation, we have the highest pick accuracy in the Asda network.

“A project of this magnitude and complexity is not without its challenges. We recognise that between Asda and Vanderlande it is a partnership, and we can only move forward together.”

For Tom, the ergonomic advantages have been a highlight: “Overall, the main benefits from the Vanderlande solution are accuracy and presentation to the stores, cost-efficiency and the fact that it is colleague friendly.”

“The journey we’ve been on from day one to where we are now, means that we are 50% more productive.”
Jon Parry, Vice President | Asda Logistics Services
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