Giant Co. will pilot new automation technology at a 124,000-square-foot fulfillment center the grocer has under renovation in Philadelphia.
Giant will use micro-fulfillment technology developed by Swisslog that uses robots and bins to process orders at the distribution center at 3501 Island Ave. in the Eastwick section of Philadelphia. Giant announced in January 2020 that it leased the space and would redevelop the building to accommodate its grocery business.
Swisslog is headquartered in Switzerland and has its American headquarters in Newport News, Virginia. It makes software, robots and other technology that automates distribution in warehouses.
Giant will use the robots to store and retrieve products in conjunction with manual picking capabilities to fill online orders, a business that has significantly grown during the pandemic. The combination of automation and manual picking is expected to enable the fulfillment center to handle about 15,000 online orders a week for delivery throughout Center City and South Philadelphia, the company said.
The combination “will create a flexible solution ideal for streamlining grocery e-commerce order fulfillment,” the company said a statement.
The partnership with Swisslog was made in conjunction with Peapod Digital Labs, which is Ahold Delhaize USA’s digital and e-commerce platform. Ahold Delhaize USA is a division of Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize and is the parent company of Food Lion, Giant Food, the Giant Co. and other grocery brands.
Ahold USA and its brands are working on expanding e-commerce fulfillment capabilities as part of creating an omnichannel supply chain. The goal is to become the “leading omnichannel grocery retailer in their markets,” the company said.
Ahold USA will have a total of 18 self-managed traditional distribution centers and 28 e-commerce fulfillment centers as of March 1. By 2023, the company expects this network to expand to more than 27 distribution centers with additional e-commerce fulfillment centers as well as its so-called “click and collect” locations.
Though the Philadelphia fulfillment center will use automation, Giant said it intends to hire 200 people to work at the new facility. No details were released on that hiring but the warehouse is expected to open this November.
The company also named Angel Cordero, a 20-year veteran of Giant who most recently served as manager of the Heirloom Market in University City, as manager of the new facility.
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