OPERATIONS

Ikea’s new Midwest distribution center has a couple of firsts

BY Marianne Wilson

Ikea has broken new ground with opening of its Midwest distribution center, located in Joliet, Illinois.

The home furnishings giant built the 1.25-million-sq.-ft. facility to serve the inventory needs of stores throughout the Midwest, as well as customer fulfillment of online orders. The center is equipped with automation technology on a scale unlike anything currently in use within Ikea’s customer fulfillment network, and which allows for increased storage capacity.

The design of the Joliet facility increases co-worker efficiency due to the proximity of the dock doors to the automated storage system. Co-workers use forklifts to drive pallets into a machine called an interface station, which eventually feeds the pallet into storage. This technology allows the Joliet distribution center to provide 50% more storage capacity than any other Ikea facility.

In addition, the building is LEED Gold Certified, a first for Ikea properties in the U.S. A key environmental highlight is the 268,920-sq.-ft. solar array, which was built with 9,036 solar panels and currently the largest in Illinois. The array will produce approximately 3,377,000 kWh of electricity annually for the facility, the equivalent of reducing 2,513 tons of carbon dioxide, or the emissions generated by 538 cars or electricity provided to 377 homes yearly.

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