Ocado is one of the world’s most successful online grocery stores with a turnover of over £1.1 billion a year. To process the millions of online orders, Ocado has developed its own warehouse technology systems.
Like Amazon, Ocado does not rely on technology developed by other companies. Within the Ocado group of companies, Ocado Technology and Ocado Engineering develop the hardware and software that powers their automated warehouses.
Sid Shaikh of Ocado Engineering explained why Ocado chose to develop their technology in house:
“We have built systems using technology acquired from outside, but then found that if we wanted to introduce a new process to make the operation more efficient, the technology we needed wasn’t available.”
The Ocado warehouse shelving systems holds densely packed goods arranged in a grid system. The system separates technology from human workers. Robots travel through aisles to pick goods and carry them to a human “shopper” who stays in one spot whilst conveyor belts bring goods to him ready to be put into boxes and out for delivery.
Software is used to predict shopping habits and trends and this informs the buying process that minimises out of stock items. The software constantly monitors the warehouse system and spots potential problems quickly. Ocado claims that any problems are usually fixed within ten minutes.
A new warehouse installation starts with Greenoaks designing a warehouse shelving system. Ocado has demonstrated the advantages of using technology to get goods from the warehouses shelving system to the customer.