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Ocado unveils new European customer and new robotics


Ocado today announced Groupe Casino in France as a customer for its ecommerce platform and at the same time unveiled new robotic technology for pick and packing.

The online grocer and technology company says will be the first of the Groupe Casino businesses to use the Ocado Smart Platform, supported by a customer fulfilment centre to serve the Greater Paris area, as well as the Normandy and Hauts de France regions. The centre is expected to take two years to build and fit out with Ocado’s own technology.

Today’s announcement came as Ocado Technology revealed its latest pick and pack robots (pictured), of a type that could be installed in the automated Groupe Casino warehouse.

Jean-Charles Naouri, chief executive of Groupe Casino, said: “Groupe Casino is pleased to announce the agreement with Ocado Group which will allow it to develop an integrated customer and logistics platform, considered the best in the market.

“This agreement is a major leap in terms of quality: 50,000 food items will be offered in the first stage to customers in the Greater Paris area with precise and speedy delivery at home and through a platform which makes it achievable to do this profitably. Groupe Casino is very proud to have sealed this deal with Ocado which will further strengthen the quality of service available to its customers, at the core of its commitments for 120 years.”

Tim Steiner, chief executive of Ocado, said: “We are delighted that Groupe Casino has decided to partner with Ocado Solutions to grow and develop its online food business. We believe that the scalable, modular end-to-end solutions provided by the Ocado Smart Platform, will allow retailers such as Groupe Casino to build their online grocery offer in a way that is profitable and sustainable, creating value for customers, suppliers and shareholders.

“We continue to make investments to commercialise our proprietary platform and expect this deal to be one of many successful collaborations with leading retailers to use it the world over.”

The initial customer fulfilment centre (CFC) may be followed by further warehouses in due course. The CFC announced today, will be, says Ocado, a “latest generation, state-of-the-art automated warehouse (for which Ocado will invest to install its grid and its robots)”. At the front end, Ocado will also supply last-mile routing management and real time implementation of big data alongside its website functionality.

Robots of a type unveiled today by Ocado Technology could potentially be used in that warehouse. The robotic system can pick many of the 50,000 items available on, using a computer vision system designed by the Ocado Technology robotics team to calculate the grasping points for a given item. The system uses a vacuum cup attached to the end of an articulated arm that is in turn connected to an air compressor. By creating a vacuum, the suction cup can lift an item and place it from storage crates into a delivery crate at the pick station. More on how that works is in this video.

As well as developing robotic picking, the Ocado Technology robotics team is also involved in the SoMa and SecondHands projects to develop robotic grippers and grasping strategies.

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