Case Study

GLS

GLS quadruples order fulfillment

Country
Singapore
Industry
Grocery
Partner
Swisslog

A wholly owned subsidiary of FairPrice Group Supply Chain, Grocery Logistics of Singapore (GLS) stores and distributes fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) to NTUC FairPrice, which is Singapore’s largest supermarket chain.

365
Daily deliveries
20,000
Bins
1,875
sqm
Covered by grid

In March 2018 when NTUC FairPrice overhauled its e-commerce platform, FairPrice On, GLS implemented an AutoStore™ automated storage and retrieval system as a way to meet demand for fast online service. The investment in automation paid off. GLS dramatically increased its picking efficiency using AutoStore, which was key to the initial success and continued growth of the FairPrice On website and mobile application.

Automation has allowed supermarket operator FairPrice to streamline its processes and track products more easily.

Halimah Yacob
Singapore President

Strategic plans to automate

GLS’ automation plans started in 2016, when Singapore launched its Retail Industry Transformation Map (ITM). This map contains key strategies to support sector transformation, and focuses on innovation and the adoption of new technologies aimed at driving productivity.

GLS adopted the strategies outlined in the map. “We continue to innovate and harness technology to boost productivity and customer service while adapting to constant shifts in the e-commerce industry,” says former CEO Seah Kian Peng.

The surge in demand for certain products at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic also meant that GLS had to increase their capacity. In turn, Singapore had a role to play in bettering the supply chain of goods in the region.

Kian Peng believes the shifting global supply chain will create opportunities for Singapore to emerge as a trusted hub to do business.

AutoStore drives the popularity of e-grocery

With the ability to store of over 13,000 products and handle up to 3,000 orders per day, the GLS AutoStore has enabled FairPrice On to grow in leaps and bounds, as there are now over 400,000 registered subscribers. Many place their orders via the mobile app.

Here’s what the AutoStore system looks like in GLS’ large Singapore warehouse:

  • The Grid occupies a space that’s one and a half times the size of an Olympic swimming pool. It covers an area of 1,875 sqm (20,182 sf).
  • 55 Robots retrieve Bins containing order items, sliding over an aluminum Grid, maximizing storage space as they go.
  • 20,000 Bins are spread over multiple layers. Each Bin can hold various types of products to provide greater flexibility to the system.
  • The ability to handle up to 3,000 orders per day has increased order fulfillment by four times compared to the previous system. GLS can now fulfill 220 order lines per hour.
  • The Robots use a wireless LAN to communicate with each other and the control system.

The advantages of AutoStore

AutoStore has helped maximize economic benefits to people living in Singapore and the surrounding region.

“GLS’ journey is reflective of Singapore’s in the next phase of its development, which is about embracing technological change to maximize its benefits for everyone, but also keeping a watchful eye on how it impacts jobs and helps every individual adapt to change and do well,” Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugarathnam said at the official launch of the new AutoStore system.

President Halimah Yacob adds: “Automation has allowed GLS to streamline its processes as it tracks products more easily. This has also enabled GLS to spot potential problems before they turn into major issues and end up causing disruptions.”

Yacob notes these efficiencies are significant for Singapore, a country that imports most of its food. “We import more than 90% of our food products from 170 countries. Ensuring supply chain resilience for our food products and essential foodstuff is really important. It’s an issue of national security.”

Apart from general economic advantages, the automated warehousing system has improved GLS’ operational efficiency by a factor of four. It also makes full use of the available workforce, the entire system is incredibly flexible, and the team can easily expand it to accommodate future growth.

Philipp Schitter
VP Business Development APAC

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