The opening of the new TNT Fashion Group Distribution Centre at Magna Park in Leicestershire not only marks the conclusion of the rebuilding works that have followed the well-documented fire at the site in November 2005, but also signals the creation of a larger, state of the art facility. Dedicated to providing distribution services to the growing Primark network of outlets, the facility has benefited significantly from the involvement of AGF who, as with the original building at the site, have been central to the design and installation of the racking and storage facility.
The Hertfordshire based AGF organisation has been responsible for multi-level pallet racking systems, both in the reconstructed original building and also a new extension alongside, as well as the manufacture and installation of two three-tier mezzanine structures dedicated to garment hanging. Importantly, it has also acted as principal contractor during the crucial completion phase of the extension. This has followed its involvement in initially meeting a rapid response requirement that saw racking and handling facilities installed in a temporary warehouse nearby which acted as an emergency facility during the reconstruction programme.
“The extent of our work is perhaps best demonstrated simply by assessing key statistics relating to the size of the site,” comments AGF's Projects Director, Ian Parkinson. “For example, an average day will see 85 containers arrive from a range of suppliers delivering cartons destined for both bulk storage, order picking and the company's fast response service. A shuttle car system locates 40% of the pallets in the extension while the remainder travel via a new connecting tunnel to the larger storage facility within the original building.”
The latter area features no less than 44 picking aisles 95 metres in length each with ten shelf levels up to 12 metres high. The 75 forklift trucks operating at the site include a number of BT Rollatruck order picking units that allow the workers to selects cartons to order for onward movement to the despatch area via an SDI Greenstone carton handling system.
“Running the full width across the front of the building is our mezzanine structure which, excluding the floor area, provides the TNT Fashion Group with three levels of storage,” continues Ian Parkinson. “Our design provides a total of 57,600 linear metres of racking space with a through-floor garment handling conveyor connecting each level.”
AGF's ability to accommodate the specific needs of such a large scale installation pays testimony to the company's development in recent times. This is further demonstrated by its reaction to the emergency storage requirement that saw racking and shelving equipment being delivered within just days of orders being placed. Ian Parkinson points out that, during the construction of the new building, the time from the delivery of the initial steelwork for the racking storage system to products being located was just eight weeks.
“Our customer currently boasts some 124 prime retail outlets throughout Great Britain with additional locations coming on-stream all the time,” comments Cris Stephenson Group Managing Director. “Now fully operational, the site has already come through its initial peak Christmas period with no problems.
“The design and installation involvement of AGF has played a vital role in meeting the very precise demands at the site,” he continues, “and has been enhanced by the organisation's ability to take on a project management role at a vital time during the completion of the extension. By assuming responsibility for the delivery of a range of mechanical handling services as well as overseeing key aspects such as health and safety, we were able to entrust an important construction stage to effectively one supplier – and we are delighted with the results.”
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