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Northeast Wholesaler/Distributor News

UNFI Implements AI-Powered Warehouse Automation System

UNFI A.I. warehouse

United Natural Foods (UNFI) has announced plans to implement an A.I.-powered robotic automation system in its warehouse in Manchester, Pennsylvania.

This system, manufactured by Symbotic, is the second installation for UNFI and part of its commitment to improve its distribution center network. Once installed, UNFI expects the system to enhance the customer experience, improve quality and service to customers, increase capacity within its facilities and lower overall costs to fulfill customer orders.

UNFI’s new Manchester distribution center is a 1.3 million-square-foot facility that will improve customer experience and support new customer growth across the Northeast. Once completed, Symbotic’s end-to-end solution will provide robotic case pick capabilities in Manchester’s dry grocery area, improve order accuracy for customers and automate the assembly of customer order pallets.

Part of UNFI’s multi-year transformation plan, this new technology is intended to improve the customer receiving and replenishment experience when the order is delivered at the store. It is expected to be operational by spring 2025.

“We always want to make doing business with UNFI easier for our customers and suppliers, and that means investing in ways to make our supply chain more effective and efficient,” said Erin Horvath, chief operating officer.

“Automating key distribution centers, such as Centralia and our new facility in Manchester, will help us improve order accuracy and deliver a better overall customer experience, while also reducing operating cost. Symbotic has been a great partner, and we’re pleased that the Centralia installation is on schedule, allowing us to begin implementation of our next automation system in Manchester.”

The Symbotic warehouse automation system in Manchester is the same technology that is being deployed at UNFI’s distribution center in Centralia, Washington. The installation of the Centralia system is on track to become operational in the first half of 2024.

About UNFI

UNFI is a grocery wholesaler providing a variety of fresh, branded and owned brand products to more than 30,000 locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce providers and food service customers.

UNFI also provides a range of value-added services and segmented marketing expertise, including proprietary technology, data, market insights and shelf management to help customers and suppliers build their businesses and brands.

Read more wholesaler and distribution news from The Shelby Report.

About the author

Sommer Stockton

Web Editor

Sommer joined The Shelby Report in January 2022 after graduating from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA with a B.A. and M.A. in Communications and Media Studies. Sommer is excited to learn about the grocery industry and share her findings with The Shelby Report's readers!

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