Automated future for Nestlé’s supply chain

By Gwen Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Supply chain, Confectionery, Drinks

In this exclusive video interview, GXO digital model realisation & continuous improvement leader Alex Stinton talks about the role his company’s East Midlands site plays in Nestlé’s supply chain and how it has been designed from the ground up to incorporate the latest advances in automation.

Operating since 2020, the 59,272m2 facility at the Segro East Midlands Gateway in Leicestershire uses sophisticated robotics, automated sorting systems and GXO’s intelligent analytics to deliver fast, efficient distribution of Nestlé products, including KitKat, Maggi and Nescafé. 

“Nestle is the anchor customer, so ther site was designed around their needs for their business. We worked with Nestle and SwissLog​ [equipment provider] to deliver the solution as it is today,”​ said Stinton.  

“We've automated the process pretty much from the point of unloading to out loading those orders once again – everything from the first bit in, to the last bit out.” 

Meeting expectations  

The use of robotics gives Nestle huge efficiency benefits and consistency in how orders are prepared that meets customer expectations. 

In a manual picking operation, a total of approximately 200 cases are picked per man-hour compared to the robotic picker system which can pick 900 cases per man-hour showing a 77.7% increase in efficiency. 

“I think this level of automation is more suited to a system you design from scratch,”​ Stinton added. “More modular technology can help develop existing operations and we do see that as something in the future for this site as we evolve and look to expand what we can do with the automation. 

Modular tech  

“Those flexible, modular technologies will be solution we look to employ. There’s also the traditional continuous improvement activity within any operation at GXO where we are alwatys looking at how we can improve efficiency, how we use those emerging technologies.” 

The efficiencies of using more robotics and automation have enabled Nestle to ride out the supply chain challenges of 2021 and especially over the Christmas period. Notably, the centre went live during COVID when the labour supply was disrupted and food supply became critical for customers.  

The site has shipped to retailers close to half a million Quality Street tubs, over a million cases of Azera coffee and a million cases of Nescafe coffee jars.  

Related topics: Supply Chain, Drinks, Confectionery

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