Stop & Shop Grocers taps HK Systems to automate its East Coast DC

Stop & Shop Grocers, an Ahold USA Company, has chosen HK Systems to provide an automated storage and retrieval system for its new East Coast distribution center. HK will manufacture and integrate 77 HK-3000/RF Rotating Fork Automated Storage and Retrieval Machines (SRMs) in the Stop & Shop 1.3 million square foot facility to handle both perishable and grocery products.

This facility, located in Freetown, Mass., will be one of the nation's largest and most advanced automated grocery store distribution centers, storing more than 64,000 pallets of product. The facility will supply 350 stores and will be operational 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

According to Jose Alvarez, executive vice president of supply chain, Stop and Shop, "This automation project will increase our efficiencies, reduce costs and allow us to meet the ever growing demands of our customers."

The 77 HK3000/RF machines will each have access to over 11,500 pick slots serviced by 90 pick aisles. The machines move in two directions -- horizontally along the 300-foot tracks bolted to the floors, and vertically where the machine's fork can support up to one and one-half tons.

"You could put a glass of wine on top of a pallet and it wouldn't spill," Alvarez says. "The SRMs move very smoothly."

The HK3000/RF replaces the practice of manually retrieving and lowering pallets from storage for picking. The AS/RS interfaces to the facility's WMS and its voice recognition system. Once a selector reports an empty slot in his headset, the crane will pull the proper pallet and replenish the SKU.

Since the system employs both automation and human pickers, safety features in the new system are a priority. The machines each have three sets of three infrared sensors that monitor the area 30 feet around the SRM and if they detect anything in their path, the machine automatically shuts down.

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