Grocery, Logistics, Sustainability: Customized Solution for Absolute Sequence

Back in 2017 NorgesGruppen ASA, one of the leading retail groups in Scandinavia, commissioned SSI SCHAEFER to build a new logistics center for its subsidiary company ASKO OSLOFJORD AS (ASKO). 

Knut-Andreas Kran, CEO of ASKO OSLOFJORD AS, comments on the challenges the company experienced at the time: “ASKO anticipated a future capacity problem with only two possible solutions: either to extend the existing building or to relocate. We simply would not be able to keep up with the expected growth in the current location. We also did not want to just build a larger manual warehouse as we see that automation is an investment in the future.”

The new logistics center is designed to handle the highly dynamic storage and picking of groceries from the dry and frozen food’s segments. To achieve this, SSI SCHAEFER is building two high-bay warehouses, and two highly dynamic shuttle warehouses based on the 3D-MATRIX Solution®. Robot technology is also deployed to support automated material flow.

Both, ASKO and SSI SCHAEFER realize the responsibility tied to every large project not only in terms of well-build operations and product quality but also sustainability. Sustainability is building into an absolute must-have for all companies, across all industries. 62% of top management across different sectors believe that one needs a solid sustainability-oriented strategy to survive the competition. Briefly, a sustainable business approach means minding ecological, social, and economic environments and influence on them while organizing your company’s operational activities. (Source: IMD, 2016)

Just like with overall strategy there is no correct answer to sustainability. The best solution depends on the ambitions and stakes of each company. 

Scandinavian way of business: Best practice of ASKO

ASKO has been on the market for more than 150 years promoting and supporting their core values and delivering high-quality and functional products to its customers. The retail company believes that quality should always walk hand in hand with a focus on sustainability. 

Knut-Andreas Kran shares their 3 main sustainability goals: “First of all, we want to be climate neutral and sustainable as a company. We also aim at using 100% renewable energy and fuels for our trucks within 2026. The last but not the least, we want to reduce our energy use by 20%, mainly in the warehouses.”

ASKO is known to be the leading company in the green revolution with a wide range of sustainable initiatives they follow and apply. The ambitious goals come with patience and a plan of actions. ASKO heavily invests in solar panels and land-based windmills, testing multiple options and learning from the experience. Realizing the opportunities and responsibility they have as a large organization, a few years back ASKO launched an environmental engagement initiative for the employee’s private life. They arranged a Climate fund, where an employee can apply for financial support for sustainable activities in their homes or support for travelling to and from work in a climate positive way. The employees can apply for partly sponsoring of an electrical bike, electric car, installing isolation at home or solar panels in their homes. In the last years, this has been an initiative that a lot of the Employees apply for and has led to great results of the engagement.

On the right track: SSI SCHAEFER

The SSI SCHAEFER Group is the world’s leading material handling company. Operating across six continents, SSI SCHAEFER designs, develops and manufactures innovative solutions tailor-made for customers’ needs and challenges. As intralogistics serves as a foundation for companies operating in various sectors, for those companies being green starts right there.

Intralogistics works with a wide spectrum of areas and therefore can introduce sustainability in many different ways. Therefore, SSI SCHAEFER is offering and providing an extensive range of economical and resource-friendly solutions, based on innovative technology. For example, containers made from recyclable materials, energy-saving equipment like SSI Exyz storage-retrieval machine and even software build to control and monitor operations with optimal energy use. The storage-retrieval machines are extremely compact in design. In combination with an optimized control system, this significantly reduces the space required: compared to conventional high-bay warehouses, an installation space saving of up to 5% can be achieved. That is many cubic meters that do not need to be built, heated, or air-conditioned. In addition to the space savings, the control pendants are also characterized by high energy efficiency, as the counterweights integrated into the mast significantly reduce the energy requirement in the hoist compared to any energy recovery gains. SSI SCHAEFER realizes how crucial it is to consider every possible option to save, preserve and optimize – in terms of automation, costs, and sustainability.

“We want to be responsible in the way we interact with the environment. Our goal for the future is not to consume more natural resources than supplied in the natural cycle.” – comments Johannes Zimmermann, Director Construction Management at SSI SCHAEFER.

Being responsible also means to never lose focus and keep working for better and greener solutions. To do more, in 2020 SSI SCHAEFER was the first material handling company to join 50 Sustainability and Climate Leaders initiative. The initiative is targeted to form the international businesses willing and aiming at fighting against climate change and to meeting the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG).

It is a match! How did the partnership start?

“It is important for us that a supplier complies with all the regulations. We need to know that they follow the same sustainability goals as we do. First, we ask whether they have a sustainability-oriented program. If the answer is yes, then we can have a further discussion,” comments Knut-Andreas Kran.

This position is not unusual for the Nordic region and is getting more attention across different sectors opening various possibilities for companies to contribute to long-term, future-proof, and sustainable values. It was SSI SCHAEFER’s determination for conducting greener business to strongly play in favor of choosing them as a general contractor. For ASKO with their ambitious sustainability goals and a heavy focus on climate neutrality, SSI SCHAEFER was a match.

A foundation for any business model: A new regional logistics distribution center for ASKO

As a general contractor, SSI SCHAEFER is responsible for developing the logistics concept, the design planning, and the construction of the turn-key installation for the retail company ASKO. The overall project includes a comprehensive infrastructure with material flow management, visualization, and a warehouse management system.

The highly automated distribution center is located at Sande, approximately 60 km south of Oslo, Norway, and is split into two different temperature zones: ambient and frozen with 28,700 overall pallet storage locations, highly efficient cross-dock and consolidation areas.

The frozen area incorporates a two-aisle high-bay warehouse (HBW) with SSI Exyz type storage-retrieval machines. The HBW in the frozen area is dedicated for double-deep storage at -28 °C at 3,696 storage locations. With the focus on sustainability, new technology development and client’s increased requirements SSI SCHAEFER decided to change initially picked SSI Miniload Cranes with 84 SSI Flexi shuttles in the frozen area as they were a better fit for the role. After manual depalletizing SSI Flexi shuttles are responsible for storage and retrieval of containers from shelves.

The ambient area incorporates a high-bay warehouse with eight SSI Exyz type storage-retrieval machines as well as a 90,000 locations SSI Navette system with 64 multi-level shuttles for small load carriers and 80 lifts ensures processes are as efficient as possible. The depalletizing required to store the goods in the highly dynamic shuttle warehouse will be fully automated and carried out by two robots. The design of both shuttle warehouses - in the frozen as well as in the ambient area - are based on the 3D-MATRIX Solution®, that enables storage, buffering, and sequencing in one system. This allows cases that were previously put into temporary storage to be handed over to the palletizing robots in an exact sequence.

With the number of different functional areas on the premises, a wide range of pallet and bin conveying systems link them to each other and to the 6-level shipping buffer. The material flow between the areas as well and stock and order management is coordinated by WAMAS®, logistics software from SSI SCHAEFER. Thanks to WAMAS capacity utilization can be tracked and optimized at any time.

Every successful cooperation requires active listening, compromises, and flexibility, especially with the uncertainty businesses faced in 2020. When a company has solid values, like ASKO with its ambitious sustainability goals, a partner should always strive to deliver the most efficient solution. A great example here is the change from SSI Miniload cranes to SSI Flexi shuttles. During the ongoing project, new technology was introduced to the market – SSI Flexi shuttle. The innovative energy supply for the shuttle uses supercapacitors to ensure the highest energy efficiency. It was anticipated to serve better for ASKO’s needs and provide a highly sustainable solution for the frozen products zone. Therefore, in no time it was offered to the client and accepted in the project scope. 

The project is expected to be fully completed in 2021.

Recent events taught business community that agility is one of the most demanded skills of any survival kit. Being flexible in your offering, terms and conditions, and almost every single aspect of your operations is simply a new normal and not an extra effort anymore. Realizing this, SSI SCHAEFER strives to keep a high level of flexibility in their work. Therefore, future system extensions are already included in the initial layout so that the system can adapt to market requirements immediately and easily. It served well for the current project with ASKO.

Sustainability is the hottest topic in any boardroom. It is not the question of whether to join or stall but the way that will work for the company better in terms of ROI and future-proof products and solutions. It is about forming long-term partnerships without compromises where it matters the most. Like ASKO choosing SSI SCHAEFER as a general contractor for their focus on recyclable materials, green technology, and ergonomic approach in layout design. 

Contact Person

Melanie Kämpf Senior Global Communication Manager Phone No.: +49 151 12 11 32 25 Mail: