Vegalsa-Eroski is the leading retailer in the food distribution sector in Galicia, with a commercial network of 263 stores (owned and franchised) and 87 smaller enterprises. Sales are booming but getting enough product out to the stores had become a real challenge.
An innovative system was needed to allow the supermarket chain to: make efficient use of space inside its main distribution centre (DC); increase order throughput; and better serve its network of stores across the northwest Iberian Peninsula.
In June 2018, Vegalsa began operations with Vanderlande’s energy-efficient MICROSHUTTLE automated storage and retrieval (AS/RS) solution inside its DC in Sigüeiro. The system comprises three 12-metre high aisles, with 19 levels and containing 17,328 totes.
There are five MICROSHUTTLEs working on each aisle (15 in total). With intelligent product allocation and the ability to travel to any level, items can be retrieved from storage in a matter of seconds. Adjoining the MICROSHUTTLE system are four ergonomic picking stations, with 40 order spaces on each station, meaning that 160 separate store orders can be completed by just four operators working together simultaneously in a shift.
Completely integrated with other flows in the DC, Vanderlande’s system allows each tote to circulate across the loop and serve all of the orders that request a specific SKU in each station. This allows for optimal use of the available AS/RS infrastructure and reduces the number of required shuttle cycles.
With high storage density and impressive levels of stock availability, the automated ODS concept has revolutionised operations at Sigüeiro, as Warehouse Manager Daniel Facal confirms: “Before this solution, many processes were coordinated and carried out in the warehouse by a high number of people. Now all these processes are taken care of by automation and we only need 12 hours to do the work that would have previously taken 24 hours – so we’re basically twice as efficient.”
With a huge reduction in picking errors, an impressive increase in picking and replenishment productivity, and an increase in the range of products offered to stores, it’s clear to see how the Vanderlande installation has significantly benefited operations in the Vegalsa DC.
“It’s all about lead times, which we’ve been able to reduce because of this system,” says Vegalsa’s Logistics Manager Fernando Casal. “Items that used to be delivered weekly can now be delivered daily – in the right quantities – which is a significant improvement in terms of managing inventory levels.”
The result of the close cooperation between Vegalsa-Eroski and Vanderlande is a flexible system that is future-proof and scalable. These are vital elements in an industry with seasonal peaks that mean higher performance is needed at certain times. With a future that will see continuous improvement to stores and product ranges, innovations in online purchases and even faster deliveries, the Sigüeiro DC is well equipped to cope with any possibility.
“This was our first project with Vanderlande and the whole team was incredibly involved and focused on achieving the best solution,” concludes Fernando. “We solved every challenge together and delivered the project on time.”