Thursday, October 27, 2022

Special deliveries

New automated food warehouse now open in Romulus

Romulus city officials join Kroger Co. management to celebrate
 the opening of a new robotic food shopping facility.
The new service delivers to homes within 90 minutes
of the city and brings 700 jobs to the city.
Grocery shopping took a step into the future last Tuesday with the official opening of the Kroger Customer Fulfillment Center in Romulus.

This isn't your parents' online shopping service, for sure

The 135,000 square-foot facility will supply specific orders from shoppers who reside within 90-minutes of the site, facilitating the Kroger Co. delivery service in metro Detroit. Kroger Delivery utilizes temperature-controlled vans and machine learning algorithms that optimize delivery routes. Orders are delivered to customers' doorsteps by trained Kroger associates ensuring what the company calls “a best-in-class delivery experience.”

Romulus Mayor Robert
McCraight welcomes
the futuristic Kroger
food delivery operation
 to the city.
“Kroger has served customers in the state of Michigan for more than a century and we are thrilled to bring Kroger Delivery to greater Detroit,” said Bill Bennett, Kroger vice president, and head of e-commerce at Kroger. “We are passionate about delivering a fresh, convenient customer shopping experience with zero compromise on quality, selection, and affordability.

Romulus Mayor Robert McCraight along with several city council members and officials were on hand to officially welcome the new service to the community, and beyond. The new warehouse will bring 700 jobs to the Romulus community.

The newly-launched Boost by Kroger annual membership program will provide customers with benefits like unlimited free delivery on orders of $35 or more and two fuel points for every $1 spent on groceries and general merchandise purchased through delivery, pickup, and in-stores. The cost is $39 or $99 per year. Kroger officials claim a membership can save customers more than $1,000 per year on fuel and grocery delivery.

The expansion to Romulus represents an extension of a partnership between Kroger and Ocado Group, established in 2018 to establish a delivery network that combines artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, and automation.

The delivery network relies on highly automated fulfillment centers. At the hub sites, more than 1,000 bots move around giant 3-D grids, orchestrated by proprietary control systems. The grid, known as The Hive, contains totes filled with products and ready-to-deliver customer orders. As customers' orders near delivery times, bots retrieve products from The Hive and present them at pick stations for items to be sorted for delivery, a process governed by algorithms that ensure items are intelligently packed.

Fragile items, for example, are placed on top, bags are evenly weighted, and each order is optimized to fit into the lowest number of bags, reducing plastic use. Bags also are recyclable to reduce environmental impact. Kroger's end-to-end cold solutions are designed to keep groceries fresh once loaded into a customized refrigerated delivery van, which can store up to 20 orders, according to a prepared statement from Kroger officials.