New high-bay helps QVC consolidate at Knowsley

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Television and internet shopping business QVC has doubled onsite storage capacity at its distribution centre at Knowsley Industrial Park in Liverpool.

SSI Schaefer designed and built the onsite extension for the storage, order picking and distribution of more than 25,000 QVC products, including household goods electrical items, jewellery and clothing.

The retailer dispatches more than 12 million orders per year, which are all shipped from the Knowsley site, with 100 per cent of items sent to customer within 48 hours of placement.

To maintain this standard, while accommodating future growth and onsite storage expansion, QVC realised it needed to double its storage capacity to eliminate offsite storage which was costing the company money.

By restructuring its logistics process and moving all goods to one site, QVC would also be able to increase availability of items and improve same day handling of goods.

SSI Schaefer worked closely with QVC in phases beginning with the installation of 8m-high drive-in pallet racking for the storage of more than 5,000 fast moving and large volume goods.

The installation of a 35m high-bay rack-supported onsite warehouse extension to accommodate bulk storage materials and bring external storage into one location followed, reducing transport and offsite storage costs.

The high-bay rack-clad warehouse includes a mezzanine floor, a pallet roller conveyor system, a chain conveyor, automatic positioning within the shipping area and the integration of two shrink-wrapped systems. It also features lighting, heating, power, sprinklers, ventilation, cranes and a warehouse IT control system designed with full pallet and case picking options.

More than 29,000 storage locations are now housed in the high-bay warehouse, which has been designed to perform 200 storage and 200 retrieval operations per hour, but could allow up to 300 retrieval operations to be carried out per hour in future.

QVC has also reconfigured and moved its returns department into the high-bay warehouse as it was better positioned. Additionally, it has installed an automated system, bringing the UK returns process up to the same level as in the USA and Germany.

The returns tote conveyor system features a components belt, curved roller conveyor, repacking tables, a diverting unit with integrated belt conveyor, pop-up diverting unit and waste conveyor system.

Andy McNaughton, operations manager at QVC, says the installation of the high bay has given the company better storage flexibility which has allowed it to improve service to customers.

He adds: “Our distribution team has seen the benefit of reduced pallet put away in narrow aisle in the efficiencies gained from having only one main put down and put away point.

“The high bay has also forced a discipline into the quality of pallet receipts to site which had created some issues when pallets were stored in standard racking systems. Schaefer worked closely with our engineering team ensuring that our design requirements were reviewed and discussed on a regular basis, often challenging some of our requirements and offering more practical alternative solutions.”

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