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Facility’s logistics solution award for KNAPP from British Gas Supply Chain and Fleet

At its Supplier Forum, held in June, the management of the British Gas National Distribution Centre (NDC) in Leicester made a special award to KNAPP, provider of the facility’s logistics solution.

A number of core suppliers were invited to the event, held at the Leicester NDC, to learn more about the future plans and strategies of British Gas. The company took the opportunity to recognise certain suppliers by presenting special accolades and KNAPP received a ‘Bringing out the best in each other’ award.

Rob Morton, Head of Supply Chain & Fleet for British Gas, presented the award, commenting, "Projects such as the one undertaken at our National Distribution Centre in Leicester necessarily involve significant change, to procedures, processes, systems and operations. All stakeholders are affected dramatically. It takes time to ‘bed things in’ and, when you think you have, the business changes again. Nevertheless," continued Rob Morton, "the joint commitment shown by the British Gas and KNAPP teams was excellent and we have an NDC to be proud of. It is highly available and has the confidence of its 10,000 or so customers – our engineers. This in turn means that our end customers can have confidence in the commitments we make to them."

On receiving the award, David James, Managing Director of KNAPP UK Ltd, said, "We are delighted and honoured by this recognition. This was a complex project to serve a dynamic business operation. The fact that the NDC is performing so well is a testimony to the hard work of all those involved and the excellent working relationship which exists between our companies."

KNAPP’s automated handling solution for the 12,800m2 NDC was completed in 2006. The British Gas facility, which cost in total £17 million, is used for the distribution of gas and electrical appliance spare parts and ancillary equipment to engineers nationwide. With British Gas providing installation, service and breakdown cover for over 4.5 million customers in the UK, the company’s Leicester operation is both huge and complex. The new distribution centre formed an integral part of a 10-year strategy for British Gas, being designed to meet the company’s needs until 2015.

The logistics solution features four different storage and retrieval systems: two KNAPP Order, Storage & Retrieval (OSR) systems, a 2-aisle miniload and a pick-from-pallet VNA installation. The materials handling equipment – including 2,260 metres of intelligent conveyor and pick-to-light technology – and the warehouse strategies are driven by KNAPP software control systems on both the warehouse management level (WMS) and the material flow level (WCS).

The Leicester facility provides next-day supply of parts, dispatching between 20,000 and 35,000 order lines per day. British Gas engineers nationwide order their required parts and materials at each customer site via mobile laptops equipped with modems. Rather than wait until a cut-off point near the end of the day, shipping totes can be part-picked and buffer stored in one of the KNAPP OSR systems, allowing rapid vehicle loading when loads are ready for distribution.

KNAPP’s solution has secured a number of benefits for British Gas including improved management information, the capacity to cope with expected growth, significantly reduced manual handling, improved identification of parts, better stock integrity, superior space utilisation and a significant reduction in picking errors.

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