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Manufacturer Sovex delivers multi-million pound project for new UK Mail hub

Wirral manufacturer Sovex has played a key role in the creation of the UK’s largest independent postal operator’s new mail hub.

The Prenton-based materials handling specialist, the fastest growing company on Merseyside, was challenged by UK Mail to create a tailor-made system of conveyor belts and vehicle loaders to allow all profiles of goods to be transported in and around their new mail hub in Ryton, near Coventry.

Sovex founder and Chairman David Lindfield said the multi-million pound project required a network of close to 100 conveyor systems – including their flexible, award-winning Bendy Boom – to enable UK Mail to move towards more loose loading, while still handling some palletised goods.

He said the conveyors were specifically designed to maximise space within the hub and drive greater operational efficiency. They integrate with a broader Crisplant LS-4000 sortation system which has a processing capacity of 24,000 items per hour.

“We were brought into the UK Mail project to provide a flexible and bespoke vehicle loader and warehouse conveyor solution,” he said. “A key aim of the project was to increase the hub’s capacity for loose loading. The solution needed to both ensure UK Mail could load and unload all profiles of goods while creating more space should they need to still handle pallets. Essentially, this meant a complete redesign of the conveyor footprint.

“We provided a total of 88 telescopic belt conveyors with a number of bespoke elements including additional LED lighting to all machines to improve usability,” he said. “Twenty-four of these booms were also specially fitted with fixed raised hoods to work seamlessly with inclines onto the sortation system. We also provided eight inbound Sovex Bendy Boom machines which provide a link to vehicles loading and unloading packages. These are highly flexible, height adjustable and suitable for loading and unloading vans, lorries and containers up to 45 foot. The boom also retracts into its casing, so they save space on the loading dock as well as time.

“We narrowed the design of all out-feed vehicle loaders and offset them slightly to allow the movement of pallets and roll cages. As part of the overall design we installed a control interface to align with the main sortation system and drive greater operational efficiency.”

Sovex, one of the Sunday Times’ Fast Track top 100 UK companies, manufactures dozens of varieties of vehicle loaders and transport conveyor systems, which are used to transport packages in, out and around warehouses. It began work on the contract in late 2013 ahead of the opening of UK Mail’s new mail hub on May 1, 2015.

Mr Lindfield said a key part of the project was to ensure the system could expand with growing capacity in many years to come.

He said Sovex delivered conveyor belts capable of handling everything from the size of an iPhone up to packages 1.4m long, 70cm wide and 80cm deep.

“This project demonstrates the flexibility we are able to provide for our customers through Sovex’s tailor-made, bespoke service,” he said. “It further highlights our desire to work in collaboration with clients to develop cost efficient solutions which drive manufacturing efficiency. As ever, we were able to offer the complete package of design, manufacture, supply and installation.”

Sovex is developing a significant international footprint with sales offices and distributors in Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Denmark, Portugal, India, Australia and New Zealand. The firm launched a manufacturing operation in Kluang, Malaysia, in 2013, which currently employs more than 70 people.

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