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XPO Logistics awarded GS1 UK contract for grocery standards validation

XPO Logistics awarded GS1 UK contract for grocery standards validation

XPO Logistics, a leading global provider of transport and logistics solutions, has announced it has entered into a pioneering partnership with supply chain standards organisation GS1 UK.

XPO will manage physical compliance checks against product data standards for a new service run by GS1 UK on behalf of leading grocery retailers and suppliers. productDNA:hub simplifies the sharing and management of trusted product data for use in-store and online, providing the industry with a single agreed way of working and improving the shopper experience.

GS1 UK, a not-for-profit organisation, together with the retail industry, has developed a common language for manufacturers and retailers to use in defining more than 150 data product attributes, including weight, volume, servings, calories, allergens and nutritional values. productDNA:hub is scheduled for launch in the spring of 2018 and is led by grocery giants such as Nestlé, PepsiCo, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Unilever and Waitrose. The new standards are expected to boost traceability while saving UK retailers and manufacturers more than £200m a year in costs and lost sales.

John Martin, Head of productDNA:hub, GS1 UK, said, “The retail industry has long acknowledged a common need for high quality data and standardized information that builds consumer trust. The productDNA:hub validation process will improve product safety, storage, inventory accuracy and supply chain visibility, while bringing greater transparency to the grocery marketplace. XPO’s extensive experience with leading supermarkets and food and beverage manufacturers gives us full confidence that they can act as an impartial third party in upholding these new standards.”

XPO will manage productDNA:hub operations at its multi-temperature warehouse site in Easton, Lincolnshire. A dedicated team will test grocery products to ensure that the labels accurately reflect the contents according to the GS1 catalogue, using specialized software to collect data and validate results. XPO will establish three laboratories at the site, one for each temperature regime — frozen, chilled and ambient.

Richard Cawston, managing director–supply chain, XPO Logistics Europe, said, “We are proud to be at the forefront of launching productDNA:hub in partnership with GS1 UK. The new standards solve a critical gap in the grocery supply chain: that is, to make absolutely certain that what a manufacturer has sent to a retailer is exactly what it says on the label. Our team will be triple-checking product attributes with catalogue data to ensure compliance with productDNA:hub requirements.”

Mars and XPO Logistics transform the supply chain with innovative robotics

The French subsidiary of the agri-food group Mars has implemented automated handling systems and robotics at the XPO Logistics site at Boigny-sur-Bionne, near Orléans. XPO, a leading global supply chain service provider, manages the site for Mars.

Scalable solution supports sales development in France

Mars and XPO collaborated on solving the challenges associated with package preparation while managing volume growth and retailers’ expectations. The result is an innovative and customer-focused approach that has the capacity to accommodate up to 10 million packages a year. XPO has deep expertise in automated applications for the logistics sector, and utilizes advanced automation at more than 25 sites in Europe, a third of which are located in France.


In less than a year, a joint innovation team comprised of specialists from XPO and manufacturer Alstef mechanized 1,600sq m (17,200sq ft) of space at the temperature-controlled Boigny site. The facility manages the storage and distribution for a wide range of Mars products: pet care (Pedigree, Whiskas, Cesar, SHheba), chocolate (M&M’s, Twix, Snickers, Celebrations), Wrigley (Freedant, Skittles), and food (Uncle Ben’s, Ebly).

Quality and reliability enhanced by robotization

To increase competitiveness through productivity, the Boigny site has been equipped with a robot that can prepare 50,000 to 60,000 packages per day while operating on a continuous basis. It increases reliability by minimizing errors during strenuous aspects of order preparation, making the best use of employee labour and enhancing working conditions.

Jonathan Jambon, French market supply chain director of Mars, said: “Our growth in volume, the expansion of our product range and the development of new distribution channels have led to increased demand for layered pallet preparation and package preparation. To adapt to these changes and satisfy our customers, we have put our trust in XPO to design an innovative solution that is both flexible and meets the requirements of Mars Quality standards."

The future of logistics brought to Mars today

Richard Cawston, managing director of supply chain, XPO Logistics Europe, said: “In light of the growth of our customer Mars, our challenge was to completely transform the logistics solution by tailoring the latest technical advances in software, robotics and pneumatic equipment, all without disrupting activity. With this new solution, we can realize efficiencies in distribution while lowering operating costs for Mars.”

Produced by Alstef, a designer and manufacturer of automated handling and storage systems, the customized solution is integrated throughout the package preparation process, from the arrival of goods in plastic film wrap to the preparation of new pallet loads ready for shipment. Upstream in the process, an automated storage and retrieval system places the pallets in racks at high speed. Each type of package is handled in the fastest and most consistent way possible without sacrificing workstation ergonomics.

The system’s major innovation lies in the preparation stage. The robot’s articulated arm can pick up as many as five stacks of packages at one time to assemble pallets with multiple product codes. Equipped with grippers and a pneumatic system, the robot ensures product safety at each stage. Nearly 90% of Mars products are compatible with the automation, which has the flexibility to adapt to the constraints of the various packaging options (glass, cardboard or plastic bags). For outsized packages, a manual preparation system has been designed to reduce repetitive employee movements as much as possible through the use of automatic conveyors.

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