In the most recent edition of ESM, we spoke to a number of retailers across Europe about some of the technological innovations they have implemented into their businesses over the past year. Here, Beat Huber, head of logistics, SPAR Switzerland, tells us about a new autonomous warehouse solution that has helped drive efficiency at the retailer.
SPAR Switzerland recently launched an autonomous goods vehicle (AGV) solution to its warehouse in partnership with AGILOX.
The AGVs introduced by SPAR Switzerland are used to transport pallets (up to 1,000kg at a time) around the warehouse, and transport themselves to a charging dock when their power supply ends. Moreover, the separate units can interact and exchange information, creating a realm of possibilities.
ESM: To what degree has the introduction of robotisation in SPAR Switzerland’s warehouse facilitated greater efficiency?
Beat Huber: The business processes of SPAR Switzerland have been optimised, with simple, constant pallet-handling now being automated. This has eliminated waiting times at the pallet transfer points. The pallet storage of empty containers is filled in a structured manner, and there is a monitor to see where the goods are.
In what areas have you seen the most improvement?
The automated transports are mainly used for the rear area, where returns are managed, which has significantly, positively impacted the operating procedures. This has been very valuable, particularly in the hectic times due to the pandemic. In addition, the AGVs can easily operate 14- to 15-hour days, which was very helpful for SPAR Switzerland during the extended hours of operations.
SPAR Switzerland saw sales improve significantly during lockdown. How has the improved warehouse efficiency enabled it to maintain that positive performance?
The improved warehouse efficiency outlined in the previous points helped SPAR Switzerland to remain focused on major processes and to assign employees, either where no automatisation was possible, or where they were able to provide the biggest benefit in the process.