Warehouse Modernization  

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is warehouse modernization? 

Warehouse modernization is Associated Food Stores’ initiative to ensure the Farr West Distribution Center remains a full-service, state-of-the-art facility both now and in the future. Automation will play an integral role in the revolutionary project. 


Why is warehouse modernization important? 

Warehouse modernization through automation and other efforts will improve quality of life for team members throughout “One Associated.” It also positions Associated Food Stores to remain one of the premier grocery wholesalers in the nation as the company services more than 400 independent retailers across the Mountain West. 


What are the benefits of warehouse modernization? 

Warehouse modernization leads to important benefits throughout the company including: 

  • Increased speed, accuracy, and efficiency throughout the organization. 
  • Reduced workload and stress on the distribution team. 
  • Enhanced ability to meet the increasing demands of retailers and their customers. 
  • Improved efficiency for retail team members. As an example, pallets will arrive based on store schematic to save both time and labor expenses.  
  • In short, warehouse modernization helps the entire company succeed.  


Will there be any job loss because of warehouse modernization? 

There will be no layoffs because of warehouse modernization. Instead, AFS will focus on growing skill sets of team members to fulfill numerous needs as forklift operators, loaders, drivers, and various support staff.  


What is the timeline for warehouse modernization? 

Following approval from Associated Food Stores’ Board of Directors, company leaders have already started the review, assessment, and planning process. Progress will occur in phases, beginning with a three-month engineering process, over the next two years. 


What automation system is being considered? 

Currently, a system provided by Symbotic is in the review process. Symbotic is a revolutionary A.I.-enabled technology platform for the supply chain used by some of the world’s top retailers. 


How does the system work? 

Symbotic’s artificial-intelligence-powered software acts as the conductor of a team of robots that receive, store, and retrieve a virtually unlimited number of products. At the core of the system is a fleet of several hundred autonomous, intelligent, mobile robots called “Symbots.” These fully autonomous fleets of Symbots move products at speeds up to 25 mph with 99.9999% accuracy to and from random access storage structures. The system enhances storage density, increases available SKUs, reduces product damage, and improves throughput and speed to customers.  

A video showing the Symbotic system can be viewed on the “warehouse modernization” section of StoreLink. 


Where in the distribution center will the automation exist? 

The 127,000-square-foot automation system will be in the dry grocery area of the distribution center, replacing the existing racking in aisles 70 – 85. The system will be 11 levels high and have two inbound depalletizing cranes and three outbound cranes that palletize orders.  


How can I stay up to date on the progress of warehouse modernization? 

Associated Food Stores is committed to keeping retailers and team members updated on the exciting progress through its enhanced communications platforms. 

Member owners and MRO retail team members will receive information from company leaders and retail account managers. Additionally, frequent updates will be provided on the “warehouse modernization” page of StoreLink. Member retailers may also sign up for warehouse modernization update emails. See StoreLink for details. 

AFS and ARO team members will receive frequent updates from company and team leaders. Information will also be distributed through Team News email and AFS social media. Articles, interviews, photos, and videos will all be available throughout the warehouse modernization process to keep team members apprised and current. 


If questions not answered through company communication arise, who can help? 

For member owners and MRO retail team members, questions may be directed to their retail account manager. AFS and ARO team members may ask their direct supervisor.