Rewe has opened a new warehouse, located just outside Cologne, which handles 20,000 items. The retailer has taken a high-tech approach in the warehouse to pick and appropriately store products as it looks to build out its omnichannel capabilities.
Six distinct cooling zones
Rewe said the €80m (US$72m) warehouse is equipped with six distinct cooling zones to meet Germany’s strict food handling laws. According to German law, apples and grapes must be stored at no more than seven degrees Celsius and bananas and avocados at no more than 14 degrees.
Rewe’s head of fulfilment centre development, Wolf-Axel Schulze, commented, “We need six different cooling zones, while Ocado in England can make do with three, making the complexity of our supply chain brutal.”
Automated picking system
The warehouse uses an automated system to pick orders. Carriages, elevators and conveyors are synchronised by algorithms to handle fresh produce and cold cuts. The site ensures orders are carefully picked and loaded onto trucks while complying with rules. It is important that the receiving, picking, packing and shipping areas have the same temperatures as the storage area.
Roller conveyors, designed by Austria-based Knapp, deliver boxed goods from high storage racks. The conveyors also use scanners to help remove products approaching their best-before dates. Rewe’s warehouse also eliminates the need for human intervention until the final loading stage.
“An investment into the future”
Rewe’s CEO, Lionel Souque, explained the warehouse is designed to handle €120m in annual revenue. He commented, “We cannot say when we will earn money with this. It is an investment into the future.” Rewe currently limits its food delivery service to 75 cities within nine German regions.