Dutch fresh produce company The Greenery has revealed it will start using robots in its distribution network for the first time this year, following a year of testing.
This week, the company was handed the keys to an expanded retail distribution centre in Barendrecht following the completion of phase two of its development, with plans already in place to extend the facility further during a third phase.
The building, which has been made ready in time for the start of the Dutch fresh produce season, is connected to another facility completed in 2016, and will provide the supplier with much-needed additional distribution space equipped with the latest technology.
Both phases have been overseen by Belgian warehousing and logistics specialist WDP, led by Willy Naessens. The company revealed two years ago it was investing around €47m to develop and expand distribution facilities purchased from The Greenery in 2015.
As with another distribution centre for berries in Breda, the Barendrecht centre is being leased back to The Greenery on a long-term basis from WDP.
Phase two’s additional development includes 27 loading bays, new processing and packing lines, coldstorage and freezer rooms, as well as offices and staff areas. On the roof, solar panels will provide a sustainable source of energy.
Edwin Poldervaart, The Greenery’s director of logistics and supply chain management, said he was “very proud” of the project and praised all of those involved in bringing it to completion.
“The new building contributes to The Greenery's ambition to make an active contribution to a healthy society, together with its customers and growers, by making fresh fruit and vegetables accessible and affordable for everyone,” he commented.
According to The Greenery, technical innovation remains central to its strategy as demand for digitisation and automation intensifies.
The group confirmed it had been carrying out tests on robots at its new RDC since the beginning of 2017, and expected to use them for the first time later in 2018.
Phase three, meanwhile, should commence in mid-April and be complete by the beginning of 2019, it added.
“In this phase, the last existing building will be demolished, after which, after phase two, the final part of the total new building will be realised,” said a spokesperson.
“After the completion of the total project, a modern and sustainable retail distribution centre of 40,000m2 will be built in early 2019.”