According to The Australian Financial Review, on a 15-hectare block in a new subdivision bordered by the Westernport Highway and Cranbourne rail line, Woolworths has recently finished building the biggest and most advanced automated distribution centre (DC) in the southern hemisphere.
The size of 20 soccer fields and 45 metres or 10 double-decker buses high at its tallest point, the DC looks more like an airport than a warehouse for packaged food and groceries.
Inside, 14 kilometres of high-speed conveyors designed by Dutch firm Vanderlande zig-zag around the building, taking pallets from receiving docks to storage racks constructed from 2000 tonnes of steel, while eight fully automated depalletising stations separate pallets into cartons.
Thirteen automated cranes, each weighing 35 tonnes, stow the slowest moving stock in a 17-level high bay storage area capable of holding more than 60,000 pallets.
At the other end of the site, 50 imposing robotic heads are working in pairs packing 650 cartons an hour, almost four times faster than in a manual DC, on pallets destined to be sent to stores.
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