Benefits of implementing the automated system have included speedy lead times, less waste and a safer workplace, the retailer said

Mercadona has partnered with robotic handling solutions specialist Cimcorp to implement an automated intralogistics system at its distribution centre in San Isidro, Spain.

Cimcorp Mercadona automation robotics

According to the retailer, Cimcorp’s robots have helped it achieve record lead times in its fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain, increasing the shelf-life of its products and ensuring freshness for its customers.

As well as enabling the delivery of fresh produce from field to store within 24 hours, the warehouse automation had secured Mercadona the benefits of less waste and a safer workplace, the group outlined.

With robots taking care of the heavy lifting and repetitive tasks, Mercadona’s staff now enjoyed work roles that were less tiring and more productive, factors that typically aided staff retention.

Automation also ensured order accuracy, reduced costs and maximum throughput, Mercadona noted.

“The grocery industry is extremely competitive, as shoppers change consuming habits fast and change stores even faster,” said Kari Miikkulainen, director of warehouse and distribution industry sales at Cimcorp.

“Today, stores offering the freshest, most seasonal produce win. Our job is to help industry players provide their shoppers with more high-quality, fresh produce in less time.”

Automated intralogistics

Seeking to optimise its order flows, minimise food waste and enhance the customer experience, Mercadonahas worked in partnership with Cimcorp to automate its intralogistics processes at San Isidro, as well as at its distribution centres in Zaragoza and Parc Sagunt.

The San Isidro distribution centre supplies 171 of Mercadona’s supermarkets, shipping a daily volume of 118,800 tonnes to the stores.

Mercadona explained that by leveraging automatic storage, handling and order-picking capabilities in different temperature zones, Cimcorp’s system had streamlined processes and reduced order-processing time (from order receipt to shipment) “significantly”.

The solution utilises sophisticated and integrated software for data tracking, tracing and management, ensuring efficient operations throughout the supply chain.

“The most significant advantage is reducing errors to guarantee a better service for our stores and customers,” said Javier Blasco, logistics solutions purchasing manager for Mercadona.

Agility and flexibility

Cimcorp said it had designed modular control architecture that provided the agility and flexibility needed to handle unpredictability in consumer demand.

With work in the distribution centre divided into sections but controlled by one integrated management solution, all units worked in synchronisation and met Mercadona’s desired growth targets, it stated.

The modular approach enabled scalability and standardised processes across multiple locations for Mercadona, enhancing operational efficiency and facilitating knowledge transfer among staff.

“Having modular solutions has advantages,” explained Javier Blasco, “such as all personnel knowing the installation, regardless of which city it is in. Additionally, the solutions can be scaled up and the processes standardised more efficiently.

”The best part has been the robustness of the application; we haven’t had operational surprises with real orders, and we’ve been able to provide a guaranteed service to our stores.”

Mercadona added that its successful collaboration with Cimcorp demonstrated ”the potential of automation to revolutionise the food supply chain and ensure sustainable growth in the grocery retail industry”.