Dot Foods announced plans to build its first fully-automated warehouse at the company’s corporate headquarters in Mt. Sterling, Ill. The new $63 million, 117,000-square-foot automated warehouse will stand 10 stories tall and house some of Dot’s frozen product offerings.

Dot partnered with Dematic, Grand Rapids, Mich., to develop a state-of-the art automation solution, which will utilize an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) subsystem to manage the inventory and perform automated pick and put away of full pallets. A second robotic subsystem will automatically pick strategic layers of product to build pallets for Dot’s customers.

“We’re taking our toughest picking job in our harshest work environment and transferring that to robots,” says Joe Tracy, chief executive officer of Dot Foods. “This is a way to address our business growth and handle the volume we know will need to move through our Mt. Sterling warehouse in the years to come. We do a lot of unique things in our business that require human touches—that will not change. The combination of people and technology will be central to our future growth and allow us to provide exceptional service to our customers.”

Dot began using automation technology in its Mt. Sterling frozen warehouse in 2005, where three cranes currently pick small quantities of product. The focus in this new facility will be on layer picks. Once picked, those layers will be matched with the frozen single case picks for the respective order before being merged with the dry and refrigerated items.

“Dematic was pleased to partner with Dot Foods to design a solution that increases their ability to deliver a superior level of service to customers by increasing efficiency, capacity and output,” says Bernard Biolchini, chief executive officer of Dematic Americas. “The new fully automated warehouse, powered by Dematic iQ software, will provide Dot Foods the flexibility to build and configure orders faster and more accurately increasing order fulfillment capabilities for today’s dynamic demand.”

“We’re leveraging technology to facilitate strategic growth,” says John Long, senior vice president of warehousing for Dot. “And, that’s really exciting. Our business is growing rapidly. Automation will allow us to continue to hire the best talent in the region while supporting our growth.”