Tesco enjoys improved efficiency with new materials handling system

Material handling and logistics automation company, Dematic, has provided Tesco with an innovative new system for its Enfield 'Dotcom' store.

The automated materials picking and handling system went live in January last year, enabling Teso to fulfil an increased number of home delivery grocery orders from one location.

The Enfield store is Tesco's fourth Dotcom store, which is effectively a warehouse dedicated to home-delivering orders made online. The Dotcom stores replace Tesco’s previous operation in some particularly busy areas where employees pick online orders straight from the shelves of its retail stores. Tesco has transferred picking and delivery of online orders from several of its normal stores into the Enfield Dotcom store.

The fifth Dotcom facility will go live early this year in Crawley, WA, and a sixth is being built, and will comprise further automation technologies from Dematic.

The Enfield integrated installation features zone routing picking for ambient and chilled goods and separate ambient and chilled Dematic Multishuttle tote order consolidation buffers.

Dematic’s zone picking system auto-launches customer order totes directly to numerous pick zones as required within the ambient area, and separate totes across zones in the chilled area.

Tesco staff pick grocery, produce and bakery goods into the order totes according to instructions received via wrist mounted Radio Data Terminals. Once scanned, totes are sent to the next relevant zone via conveyor. Complete totes are then routed to the Multishuttle consolidation buffers.

Two separate Dematic Multishuttle Consolidation Buffer units hold completed customer order totes for both ambient and chilled home delivery orders. Once a full van has been consolidated, the totes are sent in order sequence to one of the centre's van loading bays for operators to load.

Tesco’s operations development manager, David Burroughs, said "This system will help us reduce our running costs and offer more delivery slots to customers from earlier in the day. We wanted to ensure we could get customers’ orders picked, vans loaded and out on time with the freshest possible produce. The system also gives the accuracy we need to ensure the highest possible service levels."

Dematic’s sales project manager Shane Faulkner added that Dematic's complete system enables Tesco to pick and deliver within the concentrated floor space of the Enfield Dotcom store, which removes dotcom pickers in many of the surrounding Tesco stores.

"This is an advantage in areas where rents are high. Also by automating its online order picking process, Tesco can increase volumes while at the same time maintaining the high service levels that are essential with home delivery," he said.


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