Portwest, a manufacturer of workwear, safety wear, and PPE, has made the decision to install an automated storage and retrieval (AS/RS) system at its distribution centre in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.
The decision to invest in automation at the site is motivated by Portwest’s need for increased capacity to “meet anticipated demand for its products”. The AS/RS system, to be designed and installed by Daifuku, is expected to more than double handling capacity at Portwest’s Barnsley facility. It is estimated that the system will be operational from the summer of 2024.
Harry Hughes, Chief Executive of Portwest, commented: “The introduction of this mini-load system is a major step forward for our UK operation, which is faced with a huge opportunity to increase sales throughput without moving to new warehouse premises.
“This will be achieved by embracing tried and tested automation technology, which will further improve service levels, enabling us to support our online customers in even more ways.”
According to Daifuku, the AS/RS system that is currently being developed “comprises four high bay aisles serviced by four automated twin-fork mini-load cranes”. Alongside the new system, the over 160,000ft² warehouse is set to benefit from high-density racking that “will create more than 76,000 unique locations” within the facility.
The AS/RS solution will be used to help fulfil full-carton orders, as well as to replenish a connected goods-to-person system that Portwest is also introducing at the same site.
Investing in warehouse automation is becoming increasingly popular amongst companies in the UK, especially due to labour shortages and the growth of e-commerce. In 2022, Ash Sharma, Managing Director of Interact Analysis, predicted that the UK will be Europe’s largest warehouse automation market by 2025. He estimates that by then, the market will be worth an impressive US$3.9 billion.
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