How 3-D gaming technology is helping a UK grocer


UK's online grocer Ocado is using video-game software to manage its distribution centre in Hatfield, England.

A software package called OGRE provides computer-generated display of the automated processes of the company's DC. The management team can monitor the imagery from their iPads.

“We used 3-D gaming technology to make the moving images realistic,” Tim Steiner, Ocado CEO, said in the Bloomberg article.

The software can detect if any part of the 295,000-square-foot warehouse isn’t working efficiently.

The technology will help the grocer double its product range, adding non-food items, over the next 18 months to compete with Tesco and

Ocado will open its second distribution centre in the first quarter of next year, with its sights set on tripling sales to $3.1 billion.

“We are going to move from being a supermarket today to a hypermarket by the end of this year,” Steiner said in the article.

OGRE(object-oriented graphics rendering engine), used in games such as the Xbox Live Arcade-based fantasy Torchlight, racing game Proun and animated adventure Okabu, allows managers to zoom in on any part of the machinery to see an animated rendering of its performance. The user can also fly through the warehouse and see what’s happening in bright video-game-like colours.

The visualization can represent all the equipment, 6,000 moving boxes, pick stations and conveyors and can display what’s happening live or replay any part of the production day.

Steiner estimates that Ocado will offer about 10,000 non-food products by the end of this year, up from about 4,500 now. The total range may increase to as many as 40,000 items by the end of 2013 from about 21,000 today, he said. Tesco would still outrank Ocado online with about 75,000 items.

Ocado is the U.K.’s eighth-largest online retailer behind Amazon, Tesco and Sainsbury.

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