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New Tesco Distribution Centre employs one of the largest Link 51 pallet racking installations

The recently opened Tesco Distribution Centre in Middlesborough boasts a range of impressive statistics – not least being that it is home to one of the largest Link 51 pallet racking installations ever undertaken. The non-food storage area, which occupies approximately half of the 1 million sq.ft. of space available at the site, now benefits from more than 56,000 pallet positions – sufficient to accommodate 10,000 individual electrical, home ware and cook shop lines.

The £128 million investment has been undertaken to provide highly efficient distribution for the Tesco organisation, the dockside facility being able to deliver 1.5 million cases per week throughout the UK. The site is divided into two distinct areas with the Link 51 installation in the non-food section providing seven levels of storage across 69 aisles. Importantly, the layout has also been configured with a top beam height of 12.5 metres, reflecting the non standard sized pallets which are often associated with storage of products of this type.

"The new site operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week and receives some 60% of its incoming loads on container from the adjacent docks, with the remainder via road delivery," comments Project Manager, Simon Harris. "A highly sophisticated warehouse management system channels goods received for location into both bulk storage areas and others at ground level for individual case picking. The layout allows the former to be located either immediately above or near to the relevant picking positions," he adds.

Link 51’s involvement at the site also encompassed direct liaison with the installer of the in-rack sprinkler system, as well as the creation of a dedicated storage area around which the company designed and fitted a mesh partition. The layout has also been configured to ensure that movement of the 32 forklift trucks and 128 order pickers is as efficient as possible around the site. Aisle widths of 3.2 metres have thus been specified to allow two trucks to pass while a central access aisle running the full width of the building – with additional storage to three levels retained overhead – helps to minimise truck movement requirements. The overall layout and handling system has also been configured to offer the necessary degree of storage variation resulting from seasonal or activity related factors.

"This is clearly a major investment by one of the leading companies in its industry and we are delighted we have been selected to provide a large percentage of the racking at the site," comments Link 51’s Sales Director, Keith Evans. "Tesco’s overall objective, we understand, has been to enhance efficiency of the distribution process not least by removing the need to transport products from the docks to its existing facility in the Midlands so, clearly, effective operation is high on Tesco’s agenda. This is the latest in a series of installations that we have undertaken for the company – and by far the largest – and we believe that the contract was awarded not only on the basis of our experience but also the project costing, design and support input that we were able to bring to the equation.

"As a demonstration of our XL standard aisle racking being used in a major facility, there are few that are on a larger scale nor many which show our ability to supply so much more than the racking equipment itself," concludes Keith Evans.

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