Latest News
News Feature image

We look at how Ahold Delhaize-owned Albert Heijn is making its private label chocolate traceable, while Carrefour Poland forms a coalition to promote organic farming.

More News

Dutch retailer Albert Heijn is opening a new distribution centre in Zaandam, with a high level of automation from goods receipt through to loading. It demonstrates how leading businesses are quickly looking to make use of new technology for a more flexible fulfilment network, as we have outlined in our recent Supply Chains For Growth research.

Albert Heijn, part of the global Ahold Delhaize group, is the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands, with over 2,000 stores in the country. The announcement follows on from the recent partnership between Takeoff Technologies and Ahold Delhaize in the US.

The new DC takes advantage of new automation technology so that almost all products can be handled in the mechanised systems, including a range of different temperatures and shelf lives. Albert Heijn says that the new DC will:

  • Create 50% more capacity to enable continued growth and improved availability
  • Load orders for stores more efficiently, reducing the number of trucks needed
  • Improve work for colleagues, with less lifting in the DC and easier replenishment in store.

On arrival, pallets are scanned and stowed in a high-rise storage area with space for 9000 pallets. From there they are taken to the “defoil area”, where the pallet wrap is removed and the products are given a final check by a warehouse operator. It goes into a depalletisation area, in which the products are removed from the pallet in layers by automated systems and decanted into trays. The trays are sent into a huge storage area via part of the 8.5km network of conveyor belts.

When the products are needed to send to store, the systems determine a stacking profile for each cage depending on weight, dimensions and the layout of the store it is being sent to. The cages are loaded by robots as efficiently as possible, so more product is loaded on each truck. Autoguided vehicles load the cages on the trucks, and at the store, employees can unload and replenish the shelves more quickly.

Watch this video to discover more about the distribution centre:

Related content


Transformed by technology hub page
Technology can add value through efficiencies and innovation. The right strategy, coupled with a data-driven approach will empower you to extract insight and act decisively.

Automation in grocery distribution and logistics
Grocery shoppers in Europe benefit from great products, competitive pricing and more convenient shopping options. However, greater convenience for shoppers drives up costs for businesses - especially in the logistics function. This report examines the commercial pressures acting on grocery businesses in Europe and considers technical developments that may offer businesses a way to solve their challenges.

Get the latest industry news and insights straight to your inbox with our range of newsletters.

Ahold Delhaize held its Capital Markets Day on 13th November, and confirmed that it is the latest business to link with Takeoff Technologies to create new micro-fulfilment centres (MFCs).

Source: TakeOff Technologies

Enabling omnichannel growth

JJ Fleeman, President of Peapod Digital Labs, described a plan to expand the availability of Click and Collect to over 600 stores by 2019, and a vision to ensure that 65% of US customers have access to same-day delivery by the end of 2020.

In a video played during the presentation, Ahold Delhaize said: “We’re automating assortments tailored to local tastes, enabling customers to receive the freshest products in as little as an hour from facilities right in their local stores or nearby locations, that leverage existing real estate and reduce last-mile delivery costs.”

Advantages of micro-fulfilment

The presentation confirmed some of the key advantages offered by such facilities, including proximity to customers to reduce delivery times and costs, high levels of productivity, low capital costs and short build time. Ahold Delhaize said they would build such facilities either within existing stores or as standalone units.

Source: Ahold Delhaize

Growth of micro-fulfilment

This announcement comes hot on the heels of Takeoff’s recent link-ups with Albertsons and Sedano’s in the US, and CommonSense Robotics’ first openings in Israel. We believe this type of facility offers retailers a flexible way to enhance their ecommerce and omnichannel offerings, a key feature of future supply chains.

For more on the role of fulfilment in these future supply chains, head to our newly-released Supply Chains for Growth report.

Related content

5 ways to digitalise your supply chain
Digitalisation in supply chain could enable new business growth opportunities. We outline how you could improve availability, sustainability and responsiveness, with examples to inspire action.

Supply Chains for Growth: four trailblazing case studies (blog)
Supply Chains for Growth outlines the elevated impact that a supply chain team can deliver across an entire organisation. From a cost centre to the strategic hub of a business, supply chain are shaping strategy and driving breakthrough thinking.

Transformed by technology hub page
Technology can add value through efficiencies and innovation. The right strategy, coupled with a data-driven approach will empower you to extract insight and act decisively.

Albert Heijn has introduced a new app, 'Rappie' in the Netherlands. The app, which is currently being piloted in four stores in Rotterdam allows shoppers to 'decide last minute, location-independent what they want to eat or drink and have this delivered immediately'.

Convenience and flexibility

Commenting on the development, Saska Egas Reparaz, Director of Marketing & Format at Albert Heijn said, 'Time is an important factor for many of our customers and we try to unburden by offering convenience and flexibility'

A press release from the retailer said functionality included capability where:

  • Products can be added to the shopping basket with just one click on the product.
  • Products can be added directly to the basket from the search function.
  • Payment of groceries is possible from a so-called 'shopping credit'.
  • Payments with iDEAL is also possible.

How are deliveries fulfilled?

A press release from Albert Heijn stated that it is partnering with, 'an online delivery service that is already delivering home-delivered groceries in Zwolle and Utrecht within two hours'.

Users place their order through the Rappie app, or through a Superbuddy colleague completes the shopping in an Albert Heijn store and delivers 'groceries by cargo bike where and when the customer wishes'.

This follows the latest in a series of online innovations from Albert Heijn, including the trial of delivery within 15 minutes in Amsterdam. IGD Supply Chain Analysis subscribers can find out more in our coverage of the Albert Heijn 15 minute delivery.


Food and grocery businesses are undergoing significant change and there’s no doubt that our food and grocery supply chains will have to adapt to mitigate risk and grow. In this report, we look at 5 ways that businesses can strengthen their convenience supply chains.
Albert Heijn is trialling smart door locks to enable home delivery when customers are not there to accept it in the Netherlands.
We present IGD’s top five online trends that we expect to develop and shape the global market over the next 12 months and beyond.

Get the latest headlines delivered directly to your inbox every Thursday.

A practical one day workshop for all roles in suppliers, to help develop your understanding of the vital part that supply chains play in underpinning FMCG businesses.