DHL Supply Chain has broken ground on a 538,195ft 2 (50,000 m2) warehouse development in Manton Wood, near Worksop in Derbyshire.
The multi-user facility will have the capacity for 110,000 pallets, including 46,000 pallets of goods subject to Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations, for its retail and consumer business segments.
Featuring a 28m high bay and 18m low bay, the site allows for the highest possible racking to improve pallet density. Speaking to Logistics Manager Jim Hartshorne, MD, retail and consumer, UK and Ireland, at DHL Supply Chain, said: “Because of this the site is really sustainable, as it requires less lighting and heating, and less land than a conventional warehouse.
“We are using a high degree of automation in the warehouse to retrieve pallets, with an automated storage retrieval system, where automated cranes can pull pallets out on demand.
Nigel Godfrey, head of real estate solutions, UK and Ireland, at DHL, added: “28m is high; 18m is high for a low bay. We are seeing more of this sort of height of facility becoming the norm. When we were looking for suitable sites we were looking for sites that could accommodate a building of this height.”
Hartshorne added: “We are setting the pace; we are the market leading logistics company and we are backing ourselves with state-of-the-art facilities. It is a massive investment, but we believe we have got the capabilities to fill it and the market demand is there from customers. We have already had a lot of interest from customers in moving into the facility.”
DHL has also acquired a second plot of land at the site so a similar building could be developed in the future.
Hartshorne said that the Worksop development was the first of a series of properties DHL Supply Chain would be building over the next five years it looks to refresh its property portfolio.
“We are a well-established business in the UK and have been around a long time,” he said. “And some of our sites have been with us for a long time as well. It is time to update them and get the ready for the customer challenges of the future.”
Hartshorne said that the Worksop site showed “a real mark of confidence from our board to give us this investment”.
“The opportunity was there for us to do [this] in the right way and really look at what our customers we asking us for and what was needed in the marketplace,” he said.
Hartshorne explained that DHL Supply Chain was currently conducting pilots in other sites of automated container destuffing, which it is looking to roll-out in the Worksop development. It will also utilise robotic arms to stack cases on to pallets and will use robotics in co-packing operations. Doing co-pack so will deploy robotic arms – putting chocolates into advent calendars
DHL is also exploring AGVs and Hartshorne said that the Worksop site would be looking to utilise AGVs to move pallets from goods-in bays to the cranes for in-feed. “It is early days, but by the time this place opens we will look to deploy them in the facility,” he said.
“In early summer 2020 go live with the low bay, the non-automated part of the building. Also start transferring staff over from sites nearby. At the same time, in parallel, we will start commissioning some of the automation. We will be looking to go live with the automation later that ear and early into 2021,” he said.
DHL Supply Chain is already consulting with existing staff over transfer into the Worksop development by Summer 2020.