In order to drive increased efficiency and accuracy in its logistics structure, Coop Norway turned to WITRON to develop and manage its Oslo-based central distribution platform. The results were impressive.
Given its rugged landscape and large surface area (2,000 kilometers from top to bottom), Norway has never been the easiest country in which to build an efficient logistics structure. For retailer Coop Norway, its main logistics centre, the Coop Logistikksenter Gardermoen (CLog), which is located close to the Oslo airport, holds many important functions within the company’s structure. On the one hand, it serves as a regional distribution center for the area around Oslo, where Coop Norway makes approximately 40 percent of its revenue. On the other hand, it plays an important role as a distribution centre, serving four additional regional warehouses across the country.
The logistics challenges the country presents mean that “the transportation costs within the food supply chain are decisive”, explains Halvor Nassvik, senior manager at CLog, noting that in order to maximise each delivery, every trailer must be optimally filled with goods when servicing individual stores.
A New Approach
The retailer saw the development of a new state-of-the-art logistics centre as an opportunity to alleviate these pressures. It was developed in conjunction with WITRON Logistik + Informatik GmbH from Parkstein, Germany, specialists in the areas of automation and logistics efficiency. The facility, which covers 52,000 square metres, supplies around 1,200 stores, and is capable of picking up to 480,000 cases at peak times. WITRON is also responsible for day-to-day technical operation.
For Coop Norway, the move is seen as a great opportunity to ensure the retailer’s competitiveness in the long-term. With the move from manual storage and picking to automation in all logistics areas, Coop is well-positioned for growth, and will be able to distance itself from the constraints of the labour market.
“This has been a paradigm shift for us,” says Nassvik, who says that today, some 95 percent of all Coop products are stored and picked automatically or semi-automatically. The company has since invested in increased capacity to take advantage of the additional flexibility the WITRON platform provides. Nassvik outlines some of the additional benefits of using the system, including, “flexibility within the processes, further optimisation of store services, optimisation of transportation costs, minimisation of manual processes, [and the] creation of attractive working conditions for employees.”
As well as delivering a lower cost per picked unit, the increased automation provided by WITRON has led to error-free and store-friendly order picking, where the demands of individual stores - such as pallet height, densely packed load carriers, as well optimally loaded trailers - are met efficiently, every time, leading to considerable savings in transportation and in the stores themselves.
Implementing The Structure
The new facility is the result of several years’ worth of hard work; Coop started construction work on the facility in August 2011, with WITRON’s installation works commencing in mid-2012. The first dry goods were shipped from the facility in autumn 2013, followed by fresh products in spring 2014 and frozen goods in autumn 2014. After just over a year, all deliveries were channeling through the new logistics centre.
At the facility, WITRON is responsible for the design and realisation of all material flow, IT, control, warehouse management, and mechanical components. All conveyor system elements and stacker cranes were designed and produced by WITRON’s subsidiary, FAS. In addition, a WITRON on-site team, located directly on site, will be responsible for the entire service and maintenance of the system and ensure continuously high availability of all logistics components during the working hours.
At the core of the facility are three standard WITRON automated picking solutions; the ‘Order Picking Machinery’ (OPM), a fully automated picking system that is used in all temperature zones due to its flexibility; the ‘Dynamic Picking System’ (DPS), for the picking of small-volume items in the dry goods assortment and the fresh food area; and the ‘Car Picking System’ (CPS), which is used to pick bulky goods within the dry goods assortment. Material flows in all warehouse areas and temperature zones are designed and connected in an intelligent manner, so that the number of remaining pallets can be reduced to a minimum, and to ensure a maximum consolidation of customer orders in the logistics area where they are picked.
Coop Norway also uses a high degree of automation in the picking of fresh and frozen products, again using WITRON technology, while another technical highlight in the system is WITRON's fully-automated shipping buffer. The temperature in the dispatch area at Coop is constantly kept at +4 degrees C. This means that the complete picked orders are centrally-buffered from every temperature zone in a tour- store friendly manner, so loading and unloading time of the lorry is reduced, as well as the replenishment time at the store.
Build The Relationship
With the facility working to optimum capacity, all parties are fully satisfied with what they have achieved so far. “With regards to store service, our stores benefit due to an error-free supply, a store-friendly sorting of goods on the pallets, and due to a higher product quality, due to improved temperature controls,” says Nassvik.
Moreover, Coop Norway was able to save costs in terms of personnel, including maintenance. “Our joint path is not finished yet,” adds Bjorgum. “Coop will use additional WITRON systems in the future and is currently thinking about new projects.”
For further information, visit www.witron.de
WITRON Logistik + Informatik GmbH, founded in 1971 (headquarters Parkstein, Bavaria, Germany), designs and realizes customized logistics and material flow systems that generate sustainable competitive advantages for its clients. WITRON has the key elements for a successful project under one roof: logistics design, information and control technology, mechanics design and mechanical production, as well as the responsibility to act as a general contractor. WITRON's experience of more than 2,000 implemented logistics projects is leveraged in the conceptual stages of a system design. Another important factor for client retention and long-term partnerships is WITRON’s use of individual service and operator models tailored precisely to the requirements of its clients. Moreover, a comprehensive coverage of the entire project cycle is the best way to continuously develop existing logistics modules and innovations.