Woolworths is building a new fully automated distribution centre in Melbourne that is expected to be operational later this year.
Largest distribution centre in Australia
The new facility is costing AU$215m to build and will be located on a 15.9 hectare site in Dandenong South, 35km south of Melbourne's CBD. Once live, it is believed that the warehouse will be the largest distribution centre in Australia, stocking more products than both Woolworths' Sydney and Brisbane distribution centres combined. The centre is expected to supply most of Woolworths' stores across Victoria.
Costs savings of up to AU$45m a year
A major feature of the new centre will be the use of new technology and automation, which some analysts believe will deliver annual cost savings in the region of AU$45m. The facility will include robotics, over 14km of high-speed conveyor belts and multi-storey racking systems that will be able to move products in both a faster and more productive manner. This will deliver cost savings and productivity gains both within the DC, as well as in stores, where goods could arrive already sorted to be pushed straight out onto the shop floor. Other cost savings will be realised through the largest solar installation in Australia, which will generate power equivalent to that of 250 homes.
Fully operational sometime in 2019
Although it is understood that Woolworths has started testing the new robotics and systems, the retailer will be keen that the new technology is working correctly before the centre is fully operational. At full capacity the facility will be able to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, marking a significant step forward for Woolworths.