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Major Morrisons distribution centre makes the most of Link 51 racking and project experience

The significant development being undertaken by the Morrisons supermarket organisation has now seen the latest distribution centre come on stream in Sittingbourne in Kent. This major new facility makes extensive use of Link 51 pallet racking to provide approximately 50,000 pallet locations, enabling the site to become central to Morrisons presence in the region.

Five beam levels plus the base are now available for storage within the 450,000 sq. ft. ambient facility that provides comprehensive storage across a wide range of Morrisons products. The Link 51 XL wide aisle system has been specified to provide back-to-back racking throughout a total of 44 aisles. In addition, a separate 270,000 sq. ft area, dedicated to specific storage requirements including bread, produce and chilled products, uses Link 51 racking at key locations. The layout makes the site one of the most versatile and important within the company’s network, as Logistics Development Controller John Passman explains –

"The new facility in Sittingbourne currently services up to 65 supermarkets across the south-east of England and London," he says, "but has the capacity to increase that number. Importantly, this has given us the opportunity to grow our retailer network via one distribution location that can handle most of the ranges across most temperature regimes – in other words, the vast majority of products and goods available to our customers. At the same time, the investment is seen as a key step in helping Morrisons to build on its position as a truly national retailer."

Apart from installing the pallet racking system, Link 51’s project management skills were also a feature during the work. This has seen the organisation coordinating a number of additional services, including in-rack sprinkler installation and floor contracting, to provide one point of contact for the customer covering a wide range of project requirements. The operation also now benefits from a sophisticated, computerised warehouse management system, allowing unit picking of items from where they are moved to the despatch area for distribution 24 hours per day, seven days per week to the Morrisons stores across the region.

"We are delighted to have been involved in such a comprehensive way at the Sittingbourne site, not least because the project builds on a number of other installations that we have undertaken for Morrisons," comments Link 51’s Sales Director, Keith Evans. "It is particularly pleasing that the award of the contract, which was made as a result of a stringent, competitive tender process, was not based solely on price but also on the quality of both the racking products and the services that we are able to provide – not least our project management experience," Keith continues. He points out that the Sittingbourne site adopted a proven Link 51 template, used elsewhere for Morrisons, which has allowed optimum space utilisation to the full roof height to be centred on standard pallet dimensions of 1000 mm x 1200 mm stored two per bay.

"This is an important development for the company and one which is central to our ongoing growth plans," adds John Passman. "The ability to store products efficiently and to enable their retrieval to meet customer requirements from our stores, whilst also reacting to seasonal trends, is clearly a key objective and one which Link 51 has made a significant contribution towards," he concludes.

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