New automated warehouse for fresh/frozen products in Quebec the first of its kind
By Food in CanadaGeneral
Marking 75 years in operation, Groupe Robert today proudly announced plans to build a state-of-the-art automated distribution centre in Varennes, with a financial contribution from the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, a Groupe Robert partner since 1993, and from the Government of Quebec. The total investment of $150 million, includes $40 million provided by the Fonds de solidarité FTQ and a financial support of $15 million from the Government of Quebec in the form of a loan, the new facility will be built in compliance with sustainable development standards.
Meeting growing demand
Located near Highway 30, the large vertical capacity distribution centre will boast a height of 150 feet with storage capacity for 60,000 pallets: 30,000 for fresh products and 30,000 for frozen products. This new facility will be an addition to Groupe Robert’s Boucherville agri-food complexes and is designed to meet the food industry’s ever-growing demand for refrigerated and frozen goods. The initiative is aligned with the Quebec Government’s strategy to promote food autonomy and buying local.
With this project, Groupe Robert will become the first 3PL (third-party logistics) service provider in Quebec with an automated warehouse for fresh and frozen foods that will be among the most highly automated in all of North America.
State-of-the-art technology building
In order to optimize the flow of merchandise as well as the use of drivers’ time, a high velocity automated system will ensure that trailers are unloaded in only a few short minutes. A high-performance carbon dioxide (CO2) system will provide the building’s refrigeration needs. In addition to being a highly efficient refrigerant, CO2 is extremely safe when compared with ammonia or freon. In addition, an oxygen-reducing system installed in the automated warehouse area will considerably reduce fire hazards.
The project is inspired by both local and international best practices and builds on the 75 years of experience of the Robert family, as well as its highly knowledgeable team’s involvement in logistics. Relying on the latest technologies, the centre will be equipped with a heat recovery system allowing it to reuse heat generated by the refrigeration equipment to provide heating required to ensure the building’s operations as well as to heat the exterior concrete slabs on the loading docks. The excess heat can also be used to heat adjacent properties or the equivalent of 100 single-family homes.
Solar panels and a rainwater collection system to be used for washing trailers will complete energy-efficient features of the company’s flagship building.
Construction of the project has been awarded to general contractor Construction Sorel. Groupe Robert has also engaged the services of architect Jean Carol Fournier and engineering firm Tetra Tech, to accompany the company until completion of the project. The centre is scheduled to be operational in early 2023.
About Groupe Robert
Founded in 1946, Groupe Robert has since become a leading North American supply chain partner. We owe our success to our 3,500 dedicated employees and our expertise in delivering integrated logistics, distribution, warehousing and transportation services. Groupe Robert owns and operates more than 40 distribution centres, which together represent 3.5 million square feet of warehousing space.