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SSI Schaefer to showcase Harrods installation at IMHX 2013

Visitors wanting to get a detailed behind the scenes look at Harrods new Thames Valley Distribution Centre in Thatcham, Berkshire, should take a seat in the IMHX Case Study theatre on Wednesday 20 March at 3pm.

The case study session, presented by SSI Schaefer, will cover the complete fit-out of Harrods new site focusing on project objectives, challenges, automated and bespoke storage solutions including details on the latest extended warehouse management software, SAP- EWM.

Following a seamless transition from its former site in Osterley, West London, the 346,000 sq ft facility fitted out by SSI Schaefer is now fully operational and the sole UK distribution centre for the Knightsbridge store and other outlets. Together with the team from Harrods, SSI Schaefer ensured the facility was fully operational without impacting on service within a 15 month time frame.

Simon Finch, Deputy Director, Distribution, Harrods, said: "From the outset of this project we were looking for a turnkey supplier that could project manage the entire fit-out of the warehouse, and we found this in SSI Schaefer. Their expertise in systems integration, design, installation, delivery and on-going service and maintenance support proved to be a winning formula for such a relocation project of this size."

The whole site is fitted out with the very latest materials handling equipment enabling the faster movement of goods with increased replenishment accuracy and frequency as well as much greater storage capacity – holding over 10,000 product lines, many more SKUs are cross-docked and delivered into London continually throughout each and every day.

To kick things off SSI Schaefer immediately installed narrow aisle pallet racking that provided instant additional storage capacity but also ticked the box to accommodate future sales and growth of the business as and when required.

A fully integrated and automated storage, handling and picking system was then designed, supplied and installed. The innovative system comprises a four aisle miniload crane system servicing 43,000 tote storage locations, transport, replenishment and picking conveyors with an automatic labeling system, automated goods to man workstations with pick-to-tote- technology, forklift control system, medium item shelving, man up order picking in very narrow aisle (VNA) pallet racking to 12 metres, unique big ticket high bay racking integrated with special large product order picker machines, process area workstations for inbound stock handling and outbound store preparation, 10,000 store delivery totes and handling equipment.

SSI Schaefer also has sole responsibility for the centre’s entire Warehouse Management System which is fitted out with SAP’s latest software, EWM – Extended Warehouse Management – this crucial role for the smooth running of the site was given to SSI Schaefer due to their in-house expertise and ability to configure and deploy EWM.

The system provides Harrods with real-time information and a high level of process and inventories transparency enabling precise planning of warehouse steps as well as efficient distribution and storage processes, managing both the manual and automated processes.

The centre, which has achieved an excellent rating from BREEAM highlighting the centre’s excellent energy performance and recycling facilities, was opened by Michael Ward, Managing Director of Harrods and the leader of Thatcham Council, Cllr John Boyd with Jaap Vos, Director of SSI Schaefer UK in attendance.

The project represents a major investment for Harrods and a long term commitment to SSI Schaefer who will provide on-site resident maintenance.

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