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Having successfully operated an automated picking system at its Guadix distribution center (DC) since 2013, Spanish supermarket giant Mercadona trusts its fresh food automation of its new DC’s to Cimcorp in order to handle future growth.

Supermarket chain wants to bring the benefit of enhanced food freshness to more of its customers. These four DCs – in Huévar (Seville), Sagunto (Valencia), San Isidro (Alicante) and Zaragoza – will serve over 600 of the retailer’s 1,630 supermarkets, so Cimcorp’s robotic handling systems will ensure that fresh foods are available to around 2 million of the 5.3 million Spanish households that shop at Mercadona.

“The main objective of these four centers,” says Javier Blasco, Warehouse Purchasing Coordinator for Mercadona, “will be to meet the demands of our stores, secure growth in perishable product sales and eliminate the overexertion that results from the manual handling of orders.”

On the decision to partner with Cimcorp, Blasco is clear:

“We have previously worked with Cimcorp. The experience was positive, and the company’s professionalism – along with the support of a strong parent company like Murata Machinery – has led us to put our trust in Cimcorp as a partner for a project of this scale.”

Optimized freshness

The new systems – which form Cimcorp’s largest ever order in the intralogistics market – will help Mercadona to enhance product freshness for its consumers through rapid order fulfillment and dispatch, thereby optimizing product shelf life. When customers get their fruit, vegetables and other fresh products faster, they stay fresh for longer in the home and there is less food waste.

All four of the new logistics facilities will have two climate zones for fresh food: +3°C for packed meat products and +12°C for fruit and vegetables. With several independent automation modules within each DC and all the systems controlled by Cimcorp software, if one module is out of operation for a while – such as when cleaning is performed – the others continue in operation to take care of the material flow.

Trust is key

Mercadona is confident in the reliability of Cimcorp’s robotic technology, with Javier Blasco describing its solutions as “robust and easy to pilot”. System availability is crucial for the in-store and online grocery retailer.

“Our main challenge is for our suppliers to fully understand our business and become part of it,” says Blasco. “We have to work as a team and realise that our successes – and failures – are shared. It is the only way to really satisfy our customers’ demands. We trust in Cimcorp to deliver reliable and sustainable warehouses that guarantee service to our supermarkets at all times, at a reasonable cost.”

TEXT Anna-Mari Vuollet PHOTO Arto Helin

Mercadona, an in-store and online supermarket retailer, has over 1600 supermarket stores throughout Spain. With over 85,000 employees – all with a stable, quality job – Mercadona serves some 5.3 million households in Spain every day. The company is planning to open its first stores in Portugal during 2019.

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