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Garment conveying and sortation equipment provider Dürkopp Fördertechnik, completes Sainsbury’s National Distribution Centre project

Dürkopp Fördertechnik, the market leader in the provision of garment conveying and sortation equipment, has completed a multi million pound system for Sainsbury’s at their National Distribution Centre for Clothing in Bedfordshire.

The Distribution Centre has the capacity to store over 7 million garments, 3.5 million of which are hanging, and currently services 410 Sainsbury’s Supermarkets nationwide with clothing. It has five storage levels and can handle more than two million garments a week.

The Dürkopp system was installed in only nine months from receipt of order to commissioning and has 51 kilometres of storage rail and runs 20,000 trolleys. It is based on their proven "763" trolley system with each trolley capable of carrying up to 50 items at a time.

On arrival, trucks are rapidly unloaded by using telescopic booms. Garments are then held in a buffering zone so they can undergo quantity, quality and barcode checks. Garments are then allocated by the WMS / WCS and automatically transported to the correct storage area.

After picking they are separated into three categories – Menswear, Ladieswear and Kidswear in the Pre-sort Buffer and then into stores on two high speed Sortation Systems before being moved to one of 148 Drop-off Lanes for despatch. Both the Pre-sort Buffer and the Sortation Systems are on a mezzanine floor above the despatch bays, allowing maximum use of the site footprint.

Items ready for despatch are taken from trolley in the Drop-off Lanes and loaded on to one of eleven brush conveyors which carry them to the ground floor. The system uses gravity wherever possible so saving energy.

The whole process is controlled by a Dürkopp bespoke Warehouse Control System which is fully integrated with Sainsbury’s own Red Prairie Warehouse Management System.

Darrell Cowlam, Programme Manager at Sainsbury’s said: "Together with Dürkopp, we have successfully managed the realisation of a key automation project for our network. Through a flexible approach to implementation and testing, the existing clothing operation was maintained throughout the project."

James Osborn, Strategy Manager at Sainsbury’s added: "As with any project of this scale there are always going to be obstacles to overcome but Dürkopp did not disappoint, they were professional throughout – delivering on time and on budget. We are very satisfied with the quality of the equipment and finished system."

Annette Sommer, UK General Manager for Dürkopp, commented: "To design, manufacture, install and commission this major system in only nine months was a tremendous achievement and I am delighted it is operating successfully. It can accommodate up to 50 differently shaped metal and plastic hangers which are used to carry the huge range of garments and accessories stocked by Sainsbury’s. The current conveying system, which can easily process up to 280,000 single hanging items a day, can also be quickly extended if necessary to meet future demand."

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