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Work Starts on State-Of-The-Art Storage and Retrieval System for British Library

FKI Logistex® begins installation of a new, high-density, automated handling system with an unprecedented 70-year life expectancy

FKI Logistex – a leading global supplier of automated handling systems have started the installation of a high-density automated handling system designed to help the British Library to reduce their storage footprint and increase productivity.

The British Library receives a free copy of every book and journal published in the UK. The British Library is currently building a new, specialist, low-oxygen storage unit at Boston Spa, West Yorkshire to house the growing national collection.

Making best use of the available space and maintaining a suitable environment for the collection, are key priorities in the new building. The automated handling system, designed by FKI Logistex, allows for the highest possible density in order to reduce the storage footprint and associated costs. The system combines 262 linear kilometres of fully-automated storage with seven mini-cranes, six staff workstations and 140,000 custom containers.

Jerry Woodhouse, Managing Director, FKI Logistex Europe, explained, “Every inch of space is used to its maximum capacity. To this end, the containers were custom-engineered to within 5% tolerance of the handling equipment, and also had to be constructed from special material to eliminate the chemicals associated with conventional plastics, which would be harmful to the collection. It was therefore vital to ensure that the critical engineering tolerances were maintained throughout the installation, whilst never compromising on the importance of caring for the collection of materials being stored within the building. This delicate balance required expert engineering management within the overall management of the project, which was led by Owen Morgan, Senior Project Manager, FKI Logistex.”

As the British Library is tasked with storing the collection in perpetuity, the specification was a complex one, which FKI Logistex more than met. Hence, the new storage unit will provide sufficient capacity for expansion over the next ten years utilising the current warehouse footprint. Along with this, FKI Logistex are supplying equipment with an unprecedented 70-year life expectancy so that it will not be necessary to replace the system in its entirety within that period.

Explaining why FKI Logistex was awarded the contract, The British Library's Head of Development Projects Julian Taylor commented, “It was essential that the company chosen to design, install and maintain the automated materials handling system should not only demonstrate that their solution was the most cost-effective, but also have the stability to provide a long-term partnership, to ensure the continued integrity of the collection. FKI Logistex was recommended to us by our project consultants as the leading provider of automated material storage systems, with the ability to design, and maintain, a system which was capable of meeting the unique challenges of the project.”

The installation of the automated system is scheduled for completion in 52 weeks and will not only enable the library to reduce its carbon mile per warehouse, but also to increase productivity in order to minimise cost to the British tax-payer.

In meeting the combined challenges of reducing the warehouse footprint and safeguarding the UK's national collection of books and journals, the new storage unit and automated handling system represent a ground-breaking approach which is expected to generate high levels of interest from national libraries around the world.

Part of FKI plc, FKI Logistex is a leading global provider of automated material handling solutions, supplying customers with an integrated set of leading-edge technologies in high-speed sortation, conveyor systems, robotic and conventional palletising, paperless pick products, AS/RS, controls, order fulfillment systems, RFID implementation, EDS integration, baggage handling systems, warehouse control systems, and total material handling automation.

The company provides material handling solutions for airports, postal facilities, parcel distribution, manufacturing operations, library automation and for warehouse and distribution facilities. With projects that include many of the world's largest and most advanced material handling operations, FKI Logistex has manufacturing, engineering and support facilities around the world.

Tel: +44 (0) 1536 480611

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