Kroger Expands and Automates Great Lakes Distribution Center

Kroger is expanding and improving the capabilities and capacity of the retailer’s existing Great Lakes Distribution Center in Delaware, Ohio. The facility is currently being renovated to add modern state-of-the-art technology with the partnership of logistics firm Knapp.

The distribution center opened in 2003 and currently services 115 stores in central and northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, and the Ohio River Valley region. According to a press release, the facility will expand by 130,000 square feet, and the renovation is expected to be complete this summer.

“Kroger’s investment in KNAPP’s latest technology allows the Great Lakes Distribution Center to improve efficiency in replenishing our stores, enabling us to deliver fresh food to our customers quickly. The expansion of the facility is part of the ongoing transformation of our supply chain network, and this project will more than double our capacity while delivering innovation and scalability that can grow with demand,” said Tony Lucchino, Kroger’s Vice President of Supply Chain and Network Strategy. “This collaborative project will allow us to serve customers in the region better.”

The site will use KNAPP’s OSR (order, storage, and retrieval) shuttles to deliver grocery cases to the RUNPICK robotic palletizers – delivering next-generation efficiency and performance increases for Kroger’s supply chain network.

According to KNAPP, RUNPICK processes the entire range of groceries fully automatically. The robot picks and palletizes large handling units of fast-, medium- and slow-moving fresh and shelf-stable goods. With its intelligent packing algorithm, selectable picking criteria, and its ability to pack different types of pack units, the system creates order pallets that are perfectly tailored to each store.

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“The technology investment in the Great Lakes Distribution Center has been designed to add a new level of flexibility to the Kroger supply chain network and deliver a resilient approach to investments in automation,” said KNAPP CEO Josef Mentzer.

Tom Homan, Delaware City Manager, said of the expansion, “This transformation by Kroger will further improve the speed and service that the company delivers to its customers, and reaffirms Delaware’s leading role in the region as a hub for logistics and distribution excellence.”

KNAPP is a global market leader providing intelligent intralogistics solutions and specialized software for production, distribution, and point-of-sale.

With approximately 5,000 employees worldwide, KNAPP delivers market-leading, innovative, and custom-designed solutions in healthcare, retail, apparel, food, manufacturing, and eCommerce sectors. The company’s North American headquarters are in Atlanta, GA.