Radial, a leading B2C e-commerce order fulfilment solutions provider and part of bpostgroup, has relocated its existing warehouse to a cutting-edge fulfilment centre in Groningen, the Netherlands. This state-of-the-art facility spans 26.000 square meters and promotes seamless collaboration between humans and robots. The aim is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of order preparation for online stores.

Driven by its growing presence in e-commerce logistics across Europe, bpostgroup made this strategic move and relocated to a new site in Groningen. In the newly built location, Radial will take care of storage, order picking, packing and preparation for sending of products for its national and international customers. 

“Our previous warehouse was too small for our growing business. The last few years e-commerce has evolved significantly, we have to evolve together with our customers. We needed more storage room for our customers’ goods. Now we have that and more efficient processes, a more accessible location and a better work environment for our employees and can offer a highly flexible and complete service.” said Dries de Love, Executive Vice President Europe, Radial.
The Groningen site has been optimized to meet the rising consumer demands and accommodate a wide range of product variations. The warehouse's performance has been maximized across various areas, including space utilization, inventory efficiency, workforce management, order processing, and picking accuracy. The cut-off times remain unchanged for customers. The localization of the new site boasts excellent transportation connections, particularly for shipments arriving from the United States. Pallets from customers in the US are efficiently transported to Groningen, where they serve as a central hub before being seamlessly forwarded to Radial's extensive network of warehouses in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Poland.

Designed with a strong emphasis on sustainability, the warehouse incorporates various integrated elements that effectively minimize its environmental impact. Notably, the building was intentionally designed to eliminate the use of gas, and the installation of solar panels on the roof generates electricity from renewable sources. Energy-efficient lighting systems and intelligent heating mechanisms are strategically employed, effectively curbing emissions and maintaining optimal temperatures. Waste segregation practices are diligently followed, while a water-saving plumbing system further contributes to resource conservation. The warehouse was constructed to meet the rigorous standards of the BREEAM-NL assessment, achieving an impressive rating of Very Good.

Cutting edge storage & handling equipment
The facility features two distinct sections for storage: one utilizing condensed bin storage and the other employing pallet storage. It combines automated solutions, such as bin-to-person and pallet-to-person robotics, in the automated portion of the warehouse, with manual operations carried out in another section of the warehouse.

Automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) oversee the storage and retrieval of unit loads, streamlining picking, packing, and shipping processes. These systems work in conjunction with warehouse management systems (WMS) to optimize product storage, increase labour throughput, and employ efficient picking strategies. Multiple software solutions, including Manhattan and Mercury, support daily warehouse planning, enabling resource allocation to meet specific customer demands.

Within the automated section, 299 robots have been integrated to work alongside human employees. Bin-to-person robotics involves robots navigating designated aisles, transporting standardized bins of items to individuals stationed at picking stations. Pallet-moving robots operate similarly but transport entire pallets. Carrier robots direct boxes to packaging machines, where they are sealed, weighed, and labeled for shipping. They then transport the sealed and labeled boxes to shippers. Employees play a collaborative role by assisting the robots in the process of filling boxes, managing return flows, and receiving goods. All other processes within the facility are being designed to be fully automated.

Finally, the new fulfilment center, situated in the Westpoort business park along the A7 highway, offers excellent connectivity to the city, and various regions in the Netherlands and Europe. The new location provides better accessibility for Radial employees, whether they commute by bike, public transport or car.

Interesting figures Radial Groningen:
Surface: 26.000 square meters or almost 4 football pitches
Capacity: automation designed for additional 2 million parcels a year; empty space available for additional 1 million parcels a year
Workforce: 150 people on average, 200+ people in peak season, in combination with 299 robots 
Energy source: 100 solar panels; future capacity plan – 2.4 MW

Source: bpost