New York: FreshDirect promises to deliver within mere hours
In New York, a city famous for always being on the go, grocery shopping can be time consuming.
But Grocery Company ‘FreshDirect’ promises to deliver within mere hours fruit, fish and bottles of water ordered online, and it relies on its high-tech Bronx warehouse to keep up with demand.
Orders ramping up ahead of Thanksgiving, when families across the United States gather round the table for a huge feast.
Everything at the FreshDirect depot is as well-regulated as a Swiss clock, thanks to the computer system.
On the ground, employees manage palettes, scan labels and sort products. But above their heads, huge orange and green plastic bins — the company’s signature colors — seem to have a life of their own.
They zip along on conveyor belts that spiral up to the ceiling, carrying the bins through countless levels of shelves.
As soon as a customer starts placing a FreshDirect online order, the system recognizes them.
“The system knows you, where you live, what amount of groceries you usually buy, what truck it will fit on, and based on that, what time can be offered,” explained Timothy Knoll, the chief operating officer.
Orders are grouped by destination, and the boxes can then be sent out.
The conveyor belts run for almost nine miles (15 kilometers), crisscrossing the 400,000 square foot (37,000 square meter) depot.
But their layout was designed to limit bins’ trips, which last between 25 to 30 minutes on average.
For small products, robots will pick them out one by one from the massive shelving units and bring them to one of six packing stations.
Once there, employees scan them, package them and put them in boxes that are quickly sent on their way with the touch of a big red button.
Bottles of water, the most popular item, are stored near the conveyor belts.
For fruits and vegetables, employees can see which products have been requested on tablets and employees set aside any that are damaged.
In a refrigerated room, other workers cut the fish of the day, still soft in their boxes of ice.
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