Sainsbury’s multi-million garment system

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Sainsbury’s has installed a multi-million pound sortation system from Dürkopp Fördertechnik at its national distribution centre for clothing in Bedfordshire.

The facility services 410 Sainsbury’s stores, and holds more than seven million garments, 3.5 million of which are hanging.  It has five storage levels and can handle more than two million garments each week.

The Dürkopp system was installed in nine months from receipt of order.

It has 51 kilometres of storage rail and can accommodate up to 50 differently shaped metal and plastic hangers. It uses 20,000 trolleys, based on the firm’s “763” trolley system with each trolley capable of carrying up to 50 items at a time. 

Darrell Cowlam, programme manager at Sainsbury’s said: “Together with Dürkopp, we have successfully managed the realisation of a key automation project for our network. Through a flexible approach to implementation and testing, the existing clothing operation was maintained throughout the project.”

On arrival, trucks are unloaded by using telescopic booms. Garments are then held in a buffering zone for quantity, quality and barcode checks, before being automatically transported to the storage area allocated by Dürkopp’s WCS, which is integrated with Sainsbury’s own Red Prairie WMS.

Clothing is separated into menswear, ladieswear and kidswear categories in a pre-sort buffer, and then fed along two high speed sortation systems before being moved to one of 148 drop-off lanes for despatch.  Both the pre-sort buffer and the sortation systems are on a mezzanine floor above the despatch bays, allowing maximum use of the site footprint.

Items ready for despatch are taken from trolleys in the drop-off lanes and loaded on to one of eleven brush conveyors which carry them to the ground floor.  The system uses gravity wherever possible so saving energy.

Dürkopp was acquired by Knapp in 2010.

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