United Natural Foods, Inc. Advances Initiatives to Improve the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Its Supply Chain; Erin Horvath Explains
PROVIDENCE, RI - United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) recently announced its intent to improve its supply chain capabilities and overall customer experience as part of its four-part transformation agenda. The distributor will be increasing value to its customers, suppliers, and shareholders on top of improving effectiveness and efficiency in its operations.
“The efficiency of our supply chain is fundamental to our customer experience. We have been engaged in a detailed review focused on broadly improving our operations,” said Erin Horvath, Chief Supply Chain Transformation Officer. “This includes strengthening our standard operating procedures across our 56 distribution centers; training associates for improved speed and accuracy; and implementing technology and automation tools to enable greater network capacity, scalability, and profitability. Our goal is for customers to benefit from the comprehensive and innovative product offerings we provide while continuing to make doing business with UNFI easier and our end-to-end supply chain more efficient.”
As noted in the release, UNFI plans to achieve these improvements with the rollout of Systems Application Enterprises (SAE) scanning technology. The distributor also plans for a new Symbotic A.I.-powered robotics and software automation system to be installed at its 1.15 million square foot Centralia, Washington, distribution center.
For the past year, UNFI has been working with SAE to implement three of its core distribution technology solutions to help modernize UNFI’s distribution capabilities. These tools are being utilized in 18 UNFI distribution centers today with plans to implement them into additional distribution centers over the balance of 2023 and 2024.
In September 2022, UNFI and Symbotic announced they had entered into a commercial agreement to implement Symbotic’s A.I.-powered robotics automation system at five UNFI distribution centers over a four-year period. UNFI’s Centralia distribution center will be the first facility to receive the new automation systems.
“Our Centralia distribution center supports a large customer base in the Pacific Northwest, including retailers in Alaska and export customers through the Port of Washington,” said Horvath. “To support our growth and a robust retailer base in this region, we’ll be deploying automation to improve the service we provide retailers, better manage external labor resources, and create a more efficient operating network system in the Pacific Northwest over time. These actions are key pillars of our overall transformation agenda, including our mission to invest in service, quality, and efficiency improvements for our existing and future customers and delivering more profitability for our shareholders.”
UNFI’s preparation work for the installation of the Symbotic automation system in Centralia is scheduled to begin later this month with plans for testing, training, and the full rollout of the new system anticipated in 2024.
Check out the full details the distributor is planning here.
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