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Asda has rolled out 270 “powered stair climbers” to its delivery drivers working in urban areas to help them carry totes of shopping to high-rise apartments.

The stair climbing machines weigh 13.5kg with capacity to carry up to 85kg and will help drivers fulfil orders “to customers living in flats and properties where access is difficult” the supermarket said.

Asda claimed it was the first supermarket to introduce such a device – which negotiates flights of stairs on caterpillar tracks and is made by materials handling company Stanley.

The lightweight machines will be used alongside conventional trolleys and “reduce the need for manual handling” during deliveries to properties with stairs.

“This is expected to result in a reduction in time spent at the doorstep, while improving the overall customer experience and reducing the risk of manual handling injuries,” an Asda spokeswoman said.

Demand for Asda’s home shopping service has seen the supermarket increase capacity from 400,000 to 850,000 slots per week since the start of the pandemic.

“We know that our drivers are making an increasing number of deliveries in urban areas where many customers live in flats and apartments, which often require access up several flights of stairs,” said Simon Gregg, VP of online grocery at Asda.

“Through collaboration with Stanley, we have been able to create a powered stair climber that suits the needs of our drivers and growing online operation, which in turn will see us reduce time at the doorstep and improve the customer experience,” he added.

The contract with Stanley covers servicing and certification and covers five years.

“Increasing home delivery capacity whilst reducing the risk of injury to personnel are two areas of focus for last mile grocery teams,” said Stanley MD Graham Sharp. “We are delighted that Asda has recognised the proven benefits of improving delivery times and colleague safety through the use of specially designed, lightweight powered stair climbers and in doing so, has become the first UK supermarket to introduce these machines.”

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