Asda will boost capacity at one of its busiest distribution centres by up to 60% – once it activates 160 robots to help it stack and pick goods.

The robots form part of an automated warehouse management and handling system called AutoStore, which has been developed by logistics specialists Swisslog.

The developers claim the system, which it describes as an “intelligent storage and retrieval system for small case lines”, optimises warehouse space to improve storage density and therefore generate greater capacity. Swisslog says sites that use its system can store up to 60% more goods in the same space than a conventional warehouse.

The system installed at Asda’s Lutterworth DC will use more than 70,000 storage bins, stacked in a grid. The robots then move along the grid and retrieve goods that are then routed to one of a dozen manned picking points.

Asda will start implementing the system shortly, combining it with its existing system to minimise disruption .

“AutoStore will transform the way in which we handle small-case products,” said Asda Distribution head of network development Ant Everett. “We have been looking at ways to improve the use of space within our existing DCs and are very excited about the emergence of this technology. The ability to re-engineer our facility and build a spacee cient and ergonomic materials handling application that can integrate with our existing operation and systems was a key factor.”

Swisslog’s Europe Central MD and senior VP Andrew Manship added: “AutoStore is a proven concept that will bring real e ciency savings to the Lutterworth site, which will have a positive impact right across the group. Innovation and e ciency are at the heart of the service we provide.”