Dec 17, 2020 by Andy Blandford

A Culinary Quest

The Automation Behind My Christmas Dinner

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A Culinary Quest

After what has been a difficult year for many, the festive season can bring us relief in the comfort of traditional celebrations. Those year-end celebrations can vary widely depending on where you live, but most typically they involve a large meal with family. Here in the United Kingdom, Christmas dinner is the marquee event. For me and my family, it’s something we look forward to any year, but especially this year. And I’m proud to be part of an organisation making sure that holiday dinners in the UK and around the world are the best they can be.

As you and your family sit down to enjoy your feast, Dematic automation solutions have been working behind the scenes to ensure you have everything you need to make it one to remember. From the guaranteed freshness of my Christmas turkey to last-minute deliveries of certain items I invariably forget, intralogistics innovation plays a big role in setting the table. Here are just some of the ways in which automation has helped get groceries to my family this festive season.

Last-Minute Preparations: Delivering Overlooked Essentials Right on Time

Cranberry Sauce, Brussels Sprouts, and Pigs-in-Blankets — easily forgotten but greatly missed, these festive side dishes often overlooked during the "big shop" and remembered in a panic shortly before the big day. This year last-minute shopping may be more complicated than usual due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the online grocery delivery capacity supported by Dematic automation means that many goods could be delivered in record time.

The Dematic Micro-Fulfilment solution provides compact, fast, and flexible order processing that adds capacity and flexibility to the supply chain, enabling retailers to fulfil online orders from existing retail store space. This solution will assist grocers in adjusting supply chains according to demand so your forgotten must-haves can reach you as soon as possible.

This year, grocers have relied on automation solutions even more as they dramatically increased their online offerings to keep up with demand. For example, in March in the United Kingdom, national chain Tesco increased its online delivery slots to a staggering 1.5 million, up on the previous capacity of 600,000. Similarly, Sainsbury’s upped its own online delivery capacity by more than 75%. Asda, Morrisons, Iceland, and Waitrose did the same.

Dematic’s recent contract win with Reitan Distribution in Denmark is an excellent example of the support automation can provide to the grocery industry. Reitan Distribution supplies groceries to more than 900 stores throughout Denmark, including more than 340 of the chain's own REMA 1000 stores and convenience stores, including 7-Eleven. Approximately 130,000 cases will be picked, packed, and distributed every day from their new Dematic system with robotic systems handling a significant proportion of daily operations.

The benefits don’t stop in the warehouse. Automation has wide reaching benefits for the entire supply chain including the vital last-mile stage of delivery. For example, void reduction technology by Dematic saves on the amount of packing materials used, which streamlines delivery as less space is required to transport the same amount of product.

Preserving Protein to Perfection: Ensuring Freshness and Food Safety with Temperature Control

When it comes to cooking a Christmas dinner, it’s best not to leave anything to chance. While some may have the preparation down to a science, few consider the systems that go into making sure your food is fresh and safe when it arrives at your door or supermarket. The Dematic Multishuttle is an automated storage system with a range of temperature zones that ensure sensitive items like meat, poultry, and fish arrive at their destination in peak condition.

Similarly, Dematic solutions can be used to automate food preparation processes. For example, to ensure optimum conditions for ripening, cheese manufacturer Vorarlberg Milch uses driverless transport systems from Dematic to manage the process. At exactly the right time, the system transports cheeses stored in a natural cellar to a machine that turns them and rubs them with saffron water, then moves them to another temperature zone for the next ripening phase. The result is a smooth yet strong cheese with all the characteristics of an artisanal product.

A Culinary Quest

Handling with Care: Transporting Goods Safely

Whether you prefer champagne or orange juice, drinks undoubtedly form an integral part of the meal. What you may not be aware of is the automation technology behind safely transporting these beverages, which are often contained in breakable materials such as glass. Extra care must be taken for handling but without compromising on efficiency. In addition, COVID-19 restrictions have required contact between workers be limited.

Dematic Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) can move items safely around a warehouse without manual intervention while handling fragile products such as beverage containers with speed and accuracy. They protect workplace safety by minimizing human-to-human interaction in the warehouse environment. And AGVs can be deployed easily within existing delivery and storage systems.

Whether or not your year-end celebration looks like my Christmas dinner, it’s more than likely that automation contributed to its journey to your table. From safe storage to rapid delivery, intralogistics is truly the gift that keeps on giving and will continue to provide your favourite foods in the new year and beyond.

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