Woolworths drives innovation and change in food retailing supply chain


Australian large retailers are increasing their demand for enabling technologies. Woolworths is no exception. With a desire to improve its fresh and value added meat retailing operations in Australia and improve supply chain quality and efficiency, Woolworths has strategically joined forces with Hilton Food Group (UK) and Linpac Packaging Australia (UK). Both have operations in Victoria. Woolworths also most recently opened a new distribution centre in South East Melbourne.

Joint Venture with Hilton Food Group (UK 2015)

A joint venture between Hilton and Woolworths saw the establishment of a new meat processing facility in Laverton, that will service 325 stores, creating 500 full time jobs.

Innovations at the new facility include:

  • Fully automated reusable crate washing system
  • Fully automated robotic store order pick and packing
  • High tech cold storage facility
  • Full test kitchen that can produce value added lines
Linpac Packaging Australia (UK 2015)

Woolworths has also aligned itself with Linpac for its meat packaging. Linpac offers a Modified Atmosphere Packaging range that includes fully recyclable rPET trays that will enable Woolworths to improve the presentation, freshness and shelf life of their meat products.

People in Melbourne actually enable you to do things rather than tell you how you can and why you can’t.

Graeme Robinson - Managing Director, Linpac

New High Tech Distribution Centre (AUS 2018)

Woolworths has invested $562 million in a new automated distribution centre, the largest and most technologically advanced in the southern hemisphere. The centre will revolutionise the way Woolworths delivers goods to stores and generate material in store efficiencies.

The facility uses technologies used in traditional logistics combined with those from manufacturing and postal systems to sort and distribute stock faster and more accurately than traditional warehouse technology. Technologies include:

  • High speed conveyors designed by Dutch company Vanderland
  • 50 robots supplied by ABB
  • Multistory racking systems
  • The ability to pick cartons off the shelf and assemble pallets for specific aisles in supermarkets in optimum order and load pallets onto trucks in the right sequence to meet specific needs of stores.
  • Australia’s largest roof-top solar installation.

Woolworths Group is Australia’s largest supermarket chain, operating 995 stores across Australia. It also has loyalty, petrol, insurance, liquor, variety goods and hotel offers in Australia and operations in Australia and food retail operations in NZ.

Hilton Food Group is a specialist in centralised portioning, packaging and value-added meat products for large supermarket clients servicing Europe and Australia.

LINPAC Packaging specialises in developing and manufacturing innovative and eco-friendly packaging for retailers, caterers and food processing firms. It operates from 25 locations around the world, with 2,500 employees worldwide.

*Linpack was recently acquired by Klockner Penraplast (UK 2017) (kpfilms.com).

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  1. www.beefcentral.com/processing/woolies-new-150m-melbourne-meat-facility-designed-for-growth/
  2. www.afr.com/business/retail/woolworths-banking-on-quantum-leap-from-new-distribution-centre-20180902-h14umz