United Biscuits has increased the capacity of its 310,000 sq m Midland distribution centre in Ashby de la Zouch with a move from wide aisle racking to VNA.
The biscuit, cake and snack manufacturer, which makes brands including McVitie’s, Jacob’s and McCoy’s, is now able to distribute all products from the site thanks to increased storage capacity.
Following a period of growth over the past five years, Mike Howells United Biscuits’ logistics operations controller, says: “We had the challenge, as a business, to create as much space as possible within the Midland distribution centre by changing a section of wide aisle racking to VNA.
“The alternative was to meet the cost of outside storage which is an expensive overhead for 5,000 pallets, and environmentally unsound.”
The company realised that there was a 40 per cent loss of space capacity at the facility as it had originally installed a typical wide aisle racking configuration with a maximum top beam height of 9.6m, despite the fact the interior roof eaves measure 21m.
It chose Linpac Storage Systems for the project. Linpac increased storage capacity by changing storage technology to maximise the cube up to roof height, making it one of the tallest distribution centres in the UK with a top beam at 15.5m and the top pallet at 18.5m.
The new system features 18.6m high frames and pallets stored 12 high with run lengths of 100m. The installation has allowed United Biscuits to store an extra 5,000 pallets in one area.
This has allowed the company to gradually reduce the size of its distribution network, moving from being a secondary network company to having one main hub. This compares to 15 years ago when United Biscuits has a total of 14 distribution centres across the UK.
United Biscuits was unable to shut down during installation as it needed to remain operational to a high level of throughput.
Linpac won the project following a seven-way tender process. Project manager Mike Hellier explains that an important part of the job was the project management side.
“Linpac differentiated themselves by providing us with thorough and detailed racking schedules so that we knew exactly what was going to happen on a day by day basis.
“They also worked very well with other contractor,” adds Hellier. “They took a real team approach, working together to make the project happen within a very short timescale – a ten week window starting at the beginning of the year and going live right on schedule, all done safely and without incident or accident.”