Telent is one of the UK’s most successful technology services companies. The former service business of Marconi, Telent was formed in 2006. These days the company employs some 2,600 people – including a 2000 strong force of field service engineers – and, at the last count, its annual revenues topped £310 million.
Operating mainly in the UK and Germany, the company provides a broad range of network and communications services across a variety of industries. For example, Telent helps to maintain and support communications on national transport routes while its broadband networks allow operators to reach millions of homes and its telecoms solutions enable the emergency services to co-ordinate their activities and rail operators to run their operations more efficiently – around-the-clock, every day of the year. Indeed, every time you use the London Underground, drive down one of the UK’s roads or even pick up the telephone, there’s a good chance that Telent’s communications expertise has been involved.
At Coventry – close to the city centre – the company operates its central contract marshalling centre. Within the 80,000 sq ft facility, Telent stores, picks, packs and ships a wide range of telecommunications products such as printed circuit boards, cable, cabinets and various other items of electronic equipment. Stock held at the site is dispatched directly to customers or delivered overnight to Telent’s service engineers.
Products – both components and finished goods – arrive at the site from all over the world. Incoming goods are scanned and booked into Telent’s warehouse management system which allocates a put away location within the store. Because of the huge variance in the size and value of the products stored at the Coventry facility and because some products are extremely slow moving and, in some cases, security sensitive, products will either be directed to a floor level storage area, a secure two-tier mezzanine floor or a combination of wide aisle and high bay very narrow aisle racking.
Incoming products arrive at the site via a single goods-in bay suitable for 7.5 tonne wagons and a further two bays designed to receive transit vans and other light commercial vehicles. Outgoing orders leave through four goods-out bays suitable for the large lorries operated by Telent’s distribution partner Allport while another bay is dedicated to receiving and dispatching products to and from the extensive repair centre which is located at the site.
Materials handling equipment at the facility is a mixture of counterbalance, reach, powered-pallet trucks and very narrow aisle (VNA) machines. The fleet is supplied by Jungheinrich on a contract lease with maintenance package. In addition, Jungheinrich supplied and installed the racking and the small parts storage shelving system – having worked closely with Telent to design the most cost efficient storage solution.
The racking system provides over 3560 pallet locations for Euro pallets (although some goods still arrive at the site on Imperial pallets – leaving Telent with little alternative but to decant). The majority of products are put away within the seven level high VNA pallet racking however, because Telent has a requirement to store communications cabinets which measure over 2 metres long and weigh one-third of a tonne, Jungheinrich configured a 4.1 metre wide aisle with two racking faces that enable the wide loads to be manoeuvred and put away quickly, safely and efficiently.
Orders picked in the VNA store by the VNA trucks are deposited at the end of the aisle from where the pallets are collected by the counterbalance trucks – electric-powered models from Jungheinrich’s recently launched EFG range – and taken to a forward pick area. Here smaller items bound for the same customer are picked from floor level and added to the order before the completed consignment is shrink-wrapped and transferred to the loading bay. Pallet loads leave on one of three daily deliveries to logistics partner Allport’s facilities around the country where they are broken down and put in to smaller vehicles for onward delivery to Telent’s clients.
Telent’s Tony McTavish believes that being able to deal with a single supplier for both the forklift truck fleet and the racking and shelving within the facility was a significant advantage. "Jungheinrich’s team helped with the design and layout of the racking system and was able to accommodate everything that we wanted," he says. "We put the project out to tender and, of course, price played a part in our final decision. However, it wasn’t the sole driver. We were impressed by Jungheinrich’s flexibility and of course the build quality and suitability of their products. But particularly important was the fact thay they didn’t try to dictate what we should be using. A lot of companies and consultants try to shoe-horn their particular products into an application and, in a lot of cases, the products simply aren’t suitable. Jungheinrich were able to supply a range of materials handling products and a storage system that met our needs today and going forward."