[Solution]Facilities Layout

For some leading grocers, those days are history. The same industry that led the way in the adoption of warehouse management and labor management systems, wireless bar code scanning and voice technology is now adopting automated materials handling in a big way. The Kroger Co is one of those industry leaders. About eight years ago, it began working with a systems integrator to create a new design to automate its grocery distribution centers. The end result was a system that can receive and putaway full pallets, then break them down and rebuild them into store-ready mixed pallets according to how they will be put away on the shelves in a store aisle. It all happens with almost no human intervention. In all, Kroger processes about 110,000 cases per day with a peak capacity of 160,000 cases in the first facility built with the new design in Arizona. The grocery industry, however, is incredibly competitive, operating on razor-thin margins. Any reductions in operating costs in warehousing, order fulfillment and transportation go right to the bottom line. For that reason, Kroger set out to re-engineer the way it distributes product to its stores, creating a distribution system for the 21st century.

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