Woolworths is making a $100 million investment on a new hi-tech robotic warehouse in Sydney’s west to meet increasing demand of its home delivery business.

The 22,000sqm Auburn customer fulfilment centre (CFC) – larger than Melbourne’s MCG stadium – is still subject to NSW Department of Planning approval.

If approved, the site will be able to pick, pack and send 50,000 shopping orders a week, with the project also set to create up to 250 full-time equivalent roles. plus an additional 440 roles for construction.

Plans for the Auburn site at 11-13 Percy Street provide for two levels of ancillary office space, car parking for more than 330 cars with private vehicle access via Percy Street, and loading and delivery docks with delivery vehicle access via Percy Street.

The proposal also includes rainwater harvesting, solar panels and electric vehicle charging facilities, and the building will target a 5-Star Green Star Rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.

WooliesX managing director Amanda Bardwell said the plans come as Woolworths reported eCommerce sales growth of 92 per cent from July-December 2020 – eight percent of total sales.

“Fulfilment centres play important roles complementing the work of our store teams. They help us better serve the most densely populated areas with the strongest demand for online groceries,” she said.

“As we look ahead, we expect more and more customers will turn to the ease and convenience of home delivery to reclaim time in their busy lives.

“To keep pace with the demand, we need to innovate with new technology to boost capacity and ensure we’re continuing to offer the best possible online grocery experience.”

The robotic fulfilment centre is slated to become operational in 2024.

Woolworths will partner with Knapp – one of the leading providers of automated storage systems and warehouse logistics software – to deliver the project, which forms part of an industrial precinct including warehouses, manufacturing, freight logistics and large format retail.

Knapp vice president food retail solutions Rudolf Hansl said the company was very pleased to partner with Woolworths and look forward to working together for years to come.

“We’ve developed a highly automated and economical concept for online grocery. Our proven technologies enable fast and efficient customer order fulfilment,” he said.

Subject to planning approvals, construction is expected to commence in 2021 ahead of an operational launch by 2024.

The proposal comes as Amazon has started constructing Australia’s largest warehouse in western Sydney, with the multinational technology company rolling out more fulfilment centres to meet the demand for online shopping.

The 200,000sqm facility, located in the Oakdale West industrial estate, will be Amazon’s fifth fulfilment centre (FC) in Australia and the second in western Sydney – effectively doubling the company’s operational footprint locally.

Amazon said the warehouse will create 1500 jobs, with human staff to work alongside 1600 advanced robots. The construction and fit out of the state-of-the-art facility have also created an additional 1,700 jobs.