February 15, 2013      

InChannel.com: Mercadona, the Spanish retail company with more than 1,400 supermarkets and a 13.5 percent share of Spain’s total food retail space, has commissioned Finnish robotics specialist Cimcorp Oy (known as Cimcorp) to design and implement a fully automated, robotic order picking system for fresh produce.

Mercadona is investing in new warehouse technology at its Guadix distribution center and in order to achieve improved efficiency and customer satisfaction. The company has awarded Cimcorp the contract to supply the automation system for full-crate picking. The scope of supply includes order-picking robots for fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as for meat products. Cimcorp will also take care of the material flow control.

When Juan Roig, the chairman , took over in 1981, Mercadona had only eight shops, all in Valencia. Today it has 1,310 and annual sales of $23.8 billion. Spain’s economic troubles seem to have made it stronger. Profits dipped in 2009, but surged again by 47% in 2010 after some forceful cost-cutting.

Mercadona was the first retailer in Spain to use bar-code scanners. And it owns a fully automated logistics warehouse just outside Madrid. Computers monitor deliveries from suppliers and organize shipments to stores. Robot arms stack goods in crates like a game of

The supermarket chain has already begun work on the new logistics center, which will include warehouses, a bakery and a storage and shipment area for dry products. A second phase, costing around $86.4M will see the introduction of facilities relating to fresh products.

The Cimcorp system, which will start operation once the construction of the new logistics building is finished at the end of 2013, is based on Cimcorp’s “order-processing island” concept.

The island is self-sufficient, taking care of goods reception; put-away; location of stored items; retrieval planning; picking of crates; sorting and preparation of crates into discrete orders; and loading of the orders onto transport units ready for delivery.

Commented Markku Vesa, CEO of Cimcorp: “Due to very fast order processing with Cimcorp’s robots, our customers in retail and food & beverage are able to shorten lead times, which is a critical factor for perishable products with limited shelf lives.”

Based on gantry robot technology, the Cimcorp 3D Shuttle is a shuttle device that is integrated into the gantry to transport required totes back and forth, allowing the robots to return to storage tasks sooner and thereby boosting efficiency.

In fact, Cimcorp claims that the solution can make order picking six times more efficient than a manual solution. Suitable for a wide variety of applications, Cimcorp says its 3D Shuttle is ‘ideal’ for goods-to-person picking in the retail, foodservice (especially HoReCa), e-commerce or parts and components sectors.

Mercadona is a 100 percent Spanish-owned distribution company within the supermarket segment. It has a presence in 47 provinces in 16 Autonomous Communities. Mercadona employs over 70,000 people who satisfy the needs of the more than 4.6 million households that do their grocery shopping at Mercadona every day.

Cimcorp Oy manufactures and supplies gantry robot systems for intralogistics in Europe, Asia, and North America. The company offers MultiPick systems, which is used for order picking and distribution of plastic crates and trays in food and beverage, and mail processing and distribution industries.

The company was formerly known as Swisslog Oy (Cimcorp Oy is a former subsidiary of Swisslog Holding AG) changed its name to Cimcorp Oy in 2004. Cimcorp Oy was founded in 1975 and is headquartered in Ulvila, Finland.