Ocado advances in warehouse automation

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UK online supermarket Ocado wants to automate the entire process from farm and factory to consumers’ fridge. Already using thousands of robots, it wants to eventually replace most manual warehouse jobs with machines.

So far, the company provides its e-commerce technology solutions to brick-and-mortar supermarket retailers, such as Monoprix, Alcampo, Coles, Sobeys, Kroger and Marks & Spencer. Now that food e-commerce is growing and there is labour shortage and rising wage demands, its automated Customer Fulfillment Centres are attracting attention from even more international retailers.

While using robots to handle non-food items is already pretty standard, food has always been a challenge; it can be fragile and can require chilled or frozen temperatures. The success of a robotized solution for grocery could have big implications for labour in the retail industry.