Founded in 1949, food retailer E.Leclerc is a French cooperative society and supermarket chain. Of the latter, it is arguably one of the most well-known in the country, and has numerous stores around France (more than 600).
One of its most important distribution centres (DCs) is located at Socamaine, near the city of Le Mans. It serves approximately 50 ‘Drive’ outlets (pick-up points) and 38 supermarkets in the west of France (in a 150-kilometre radius).
Despite its excellent location, the DC at Socamaine was facing a number of challenges, including the need to enhance performance within a limited footprint. One of its consistent concerns is meeting the needs of its customers. This means ensuring that the E.Leclerc supermarkets it serves have a continued stream of store-friendly pallets.
An additional consideration for Socamaine is the wellbeing of its employees. “Across Europe, people are expected to work longer, so we needed to find an ergonomic system that would allow our team to do so,” says Adhérent Socamaine (Magasin d’Angerville) Olivier Louvard.
To ensure that Socamaine was able to meet its challenges head-on, Vanderlande proposed an integrated end-to-end solution that combined different technologies and services – Automated Case Picking (ACP).
This included the MICROSHUTTLE automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS), load-forming logic (LFL) software, and maintenance and hotline support from Vanderlande’s life-cycle services.
To meet the needs of the individual E.Leclerc stores, palletising is carried out by five robotising modules, with two robot arms working at each module. Fed by trays from the MICROSHUTTLE, LFL software informs the robot how to create the most optimal pallet, considering aspects such as case type, dimensions and weight, for example.
Having Vanderlande’s ACP solution installed has allowed Socamaine to overcome all of its challenges and the system is yielding some positive results. “I am happy to say that all of our objectives have been met,” confirms M. Louvard. “Vanderlande knew what was needed to build the system in line with what already existed on site and this adaptability was a strong aspect within their proposal.”
One of the key differentiators to E.Leclerc was that Vanderlande’s design matched the building constraints. Socamaine knew that only a solution tailored to its precise needs would be good enough. The ACP solution also has built-in scalability and flexibility, which will ensure that it can continually match Socamaine’s activities.
“We selected Vanderlande as a partner due to its adaptability, flexibility and way of thinking – in particular its innovative approach,” says M. Louvard. “Quite simply, it’s the spirit of their team that makes it work.
“We find Vanderlande to be a reliable partner because they are attentive and customer-oriented, and able to respond to individual needs to achieve a positive result. These qualities helped us when making our initial choice and have since been validated.”