Building a simplified yet robust approach


December 14, 2023 | By Anurima Das

Logistics automation is a sustainable solution that offers companies a competitive edge, allowing them to enhance their operations while delivering a seamless customer experience and maintaining business continuity. The e-commerce, e-grocery, and retail sectors can benefit significantly from automation by leveraging insights to provide faster service, increasing their savings, improving flexibility, and improving product quality overall. Saudi Arabia boasts the highest consumer spending in the region, exceeding 16 billion USD. Additionally, the region accounts for approximately two percent of the world’s leading 250 retailers. This indicates the importance of investing in automation technology to stay competitive in the market. Businesses that embrace logistics automation are better equipped to improve their operations, meet customer demands, and stay competitive.

Swisslog’s commitment to delivering cutting-edge, robot-based automation solutions aligns seamlessly with the evolving needs of this dynamic market. The collaboration between Swisslog and Almarai goes beyond addressing the immediate needs of Almarai’s logistics and distribution. It sets the stage for a positive and transformative impact on the entire industry. It serves as a compelling model for the industry, illustrating the positive outcomes that arise when two entities come together with a shared vision of innovation and excellence.

Rami Younes, the General Manager & Head of Sales, at Swisslog Middle East helps us understand the key facts of this collaboration and how it helped the brand achieve growth across channels. Let’s deep dive.

PROBLEM AT HAND

Almarai manages complex flows of goods daily. The Saudi Arabian Group is one of the largest vertically integrated dairy companies in the world, managing the intricate flows of goods across its diverse product range, including dairy, fruit juices, baked goods, poultry products, and infant formula. Operating from a large factory in Al Kharj, a considerable distance from Riyadh, the capital city, the company recognized the necessity for a complete strategic reorientation of its logistics. The challenges encompassed the complexities of handling diverse products, laborious and unergonomic manual operations, and the overarching need to enhance logistics efficiency to maintain and expand its competitive position. To address these issues, Almarai undertook a multi-million US dollar project in collaboration with Swisslog Warehouse & Distribution Solutions, a KUKA Group company, to automate its complete distribution logistics.

PARTNERING FOR GROWTH

The automation of the flow of goods makes it possible to boost the efficiency of logistics. Processes run more quickly, transit quantities are increased, and costs are reduced. In addition, laborious and unergonomic working operations are eliminated, which in turn benefits the employees. Swisslog provides Almarai with several warehouses for palletized finished goods and a fully automated picking and goods distribution center. Swisslog also manages five subprojects that implement the internal logistics systems within the various factories. This is being done step by step so that the company can continue to operate at the same time.

The multi-million US dollar project includes the supply and installation of storage and retrieval systems, conveyors, the Automatic Reefer Loading System (ARLS), automatic picking modules supplied by KUKA, and electric monorail suspension systems. The overall package also includes SAP’s warehouse management system, SAP EWM, to control material flows and data intelligently and efficiently.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Robot-based intralogistics is seamlessly integrated into Almarai’s overall material flow within various factories.
  • Implementation is done in phases so that Almarai can continue to operate at the same time.
  • Software integration and the latest augmented reality service features are ready for the age of Industry 4.0.
  • Significantly faster material flow with reduced costs.
  • A reliable, uninterrupted, and trackable cold chain to comply with the latest food regulations.

FUTURE READY

In the future, a direct line to trained Swisslog specialists may be established using HoloLens hologram glasses as a tool for system maintenance. This innovative approach incorporates a video chat window within the worker’s field of view, facilitating seamless communication with the technician. Through HoloLens, the technician gains real-time visibility of the system and can guide the worker accordingly. With this tool, Almarai will have direct contact with the worldwide Swisslog Service network for even quicker response times and more reliable troubleshooting and fault correction.

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