Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc. held a ribbon-cutting event June 5 for its All-In-One Distribution Hub in Hernando, Mississippi.
The facility, which totals more than one million square feet of space and is some 80 feet tall throughout, features advanced intelligence, automation and an expanded variety of offerings to improve system-wide distribution and logistics performance.
The automation technology and evolved organizational infrastructure will enable long-term, sustainable growth and support success and a competitive advantage for member retailers. Furthermore, it will help AWG and the region continue to attract, develop and retain an engaged and high-performing workforce.
AWG partnered on the hub with WITRON, a leader in designing and realizing dynamic food warehouse automation and order-picking systems. The WITRON system is integrated into every area of the facility, including the handling of case and pallet goods, ambient temperature, refrigerated perishables, frozen foods and fulfillment of individual unit product orders.
According to AWG, the automated system will increase the throughput of products, maximize efficiencies, improve accuracy and reduce product loss and waste due to damaged goods.
Due to the closed system of the AWG cooperative model, this will allow member stores to realize savings in overall product cost and transportation and benefit from the accuracy and lower salvage rates. Member retailers will reap cost savings while experiencing the highest possible product integrity and safety levels in the food supply chain.
The hub, which has room to expand, accommodates all products and categories within today’s full assortment and specialty supermarkets.
It also has unique features, such as an earth-friendly non-ammonia refrigeration system and 10 pressurized banana rooms. There also are docks on both sides of the building to ensure end-to-end temperature control and five high-capacity generators for uninterrupted wall-to-wall operations.
AWG President and CEO David Smith told the gathering that the company was “incredibly proud” to unveil the hub.
“[This] represents a significant leap forward for AWG and our commitment to delivering exceptional service to our members and fulfill our mission to provide our member-retailers with all the tools, products and services they need to compete favorably in all markets served at the lowest possible cost,” Smith said. “This facility showcases our dedication to innovation and operational excellence.”
Barry Queen, chairman of AWG’s board of directors, echoed Smith’s remarks, noting the hub marks “a milestone in our cooperative’s history.”
“With this cutting-edge facility, we reinforce our position as industry leaders, setting new standards for grocery distribution efficiency,” Queen said. “We are excited to celebrate this achievement and look forward to its positive impact on our members and communities.
“The grocery business is changing fast. And with this new All-In-One Distribution Hub, AWG will be well-positioned to meet the needs of retailers for many, many years to come.”
AWG is the nation’s largest cooperative food wholesaler to independently-owned supermarkets, serving 1,100 member companies and more than 3,400 locations throughout 31 states from nine wholesale divisions.
In addition to its cooperative wholesale operations, the company also operates subsidiary companies that provide real estate and supermarket development services, health and beauty care, general merchandise, pharmaceutical products, specialty foods and natural and organic products.
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