Inside Logistics

Robert investing in automated storage

Dematic ASRS will be first of its kind in Quebec


The new facility in Varennes will have 130-ft high AS/RS cranes

September 9, 2021
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Groupe Robert is installing a high-density automated cold storage  system from Dematic at its new DC in Varennes, Quebec.

The AS/RS will have storage capacity for 60,000 pallets — 30,000 in fresh temperatures and 30,000 in frozen (down to -28 degrees Celsius). A carbon dioxide system will provide the refrigeration, which is efficient and safer than ammonia or freon. A low oxygen system will mitigate fire hazards.

The 130-foot-tall cranes makes this AS/RS will be one of the tallest for a third-party logistics facility in Canada and the first of its kind in Quebec. Completion is expected by February 2023.

“We have experienced continuous demand from our customers for increased capacity, and so a new building was inevitable,” said Michel Robert, President & CEO, Groupe Robert. “With Dematic we were able to plan ahead to forecast growth expectations, save on costs and support our strong environmental sustainability initiatives.”

Heat recovery

The facility will be equipped with a heat recovery system allowing it to use heat generated by the refrigeration equipment to warm the inside of the facility as well as to melt snow outside the loading docks. The system has the capacity to heat the equivalent of 100 single-family homes.

Solar panels to augment energy efficiency and a rainwater collection system for washing trailers also contribute to sustainability.

“The Groupe Robert team made clear their priorities for this facility,” said Vera Friedrich, managing director, Dematic Canada.

“The solution will deliver on those priorities — increased capacity, lower operation costs and improved sustainability. And building ‘tall’ instead of ‘wide’ will not only save real estate expense, but reduce energy consumption as well. We are extremely proud to partner with such a forward-looking company.”

Announced in March 2021, the project was awarded to general contractor Construction Sorel. Groupe Robert has also engaged the services of architect Jean Carol Fournier and engineering firm Tetra Tech.

The building is estimated to cost about $150 million, and will be funded through $40 million provided by the Fonds de solidarité FTQ and $15 million loan from the Government of Quebec.