Coles opens Australia’s first automated distribution centre in Queensland

Image credit: Coles

Supermarket giant Coles has opened its first Australian Automated Distribution Centre (ADC) – the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere as part of a $1 billion effort to strengthen its supply chain.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Coles Group Chairman James Graham and Coles Group CEO Steven Cain have officially launched the ADC at Goodman’s Redbank Motorway Estate in Queensland Thursday morning.

The company said the Redbank facility will be followed next year by a second Coles automated distribution centre in Kemps Creek, New South Wales.

For team members, suppliers, and customers, the ADCs are intended to provide outcomes that are safer, more sustainable, and more readily available on the market.

Located 30 kilometres south-west of Brisbane, the cutting-edge plant at Redbank will serve 219 Coles shops throughout Queensland and Northern NSW, as far north as Port Douglas and as far south as Laurieton in NSW.

Once running at full capacity, Coles anticipates the site will process up to 4 million cases per week, the equivalent of 32 million units sold in stores.  

According to Coles chief executive officer Steven Cain, the opening of the facility has been five years in the making and represents one of the most momentous occasions for Coles since its founding in 1914.

“Modernising our operations is how we improve efficiency and availability in our stores and deliver higher service levels for our customers, team members and suppliers,” Cain said.

He continued, “Our new ADCs can process twice the number of cases and hold twice the number of pallets compared to one of our current DCs. The ADCs enable us to half our current total footprint, leading to a more productive and sustainable business model.”

More than 90 per cent of the stock processed at the centres will be done completely by automated systems using Witron technology, the company revealed. 

Meanwhile, James Graham, chairman of the Coles Group, thanked everyone for their commitment to this crucial project.

“I’m proud of our team, partners and suppliers who’ve worked together for over five years to create this state-of-the-art facility. Over 3,000 people came together, contributing more than 2.5 million work hours to plan and design the facility, construct the building and install and commission the automation,” Graham said.

To further detail, the Redbank ADC is equipped with 180,000 liters of harvested rainwater storage for toilet flushing and landscaping irrigation, as well as LED and sensor lighting to cut energy use. 

One of the largest rooftop solar power systems in the Coles network is a 3.5 megawatt solar installation that is planned. 

To reduce food waste, Coles community partner SecondBite will get the edible food that cannot be sold in the ADC, the supermarket giant revealed.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said this technology will help advance supermarket supply chains, describing it as “not only a first for Australia, but also a win for the state of Queensland.”

“Coles is one of the biggest employers in this country and its team was pivotal in ensuring food security during challenging times. A facility like this one in Redbank shows how retailers and manufacturers can look to the future to improve the productivity, safety and sustainability of their operations for all Australians,” Prime Minster Albanese said.