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Distributing Hazlewood Frozen Foods' from Wrexham.

Distributing Hazlewood Frozen Foods' from Wrexham

In 1981 a company by the name of Olaf was established in Wrexham, North Wales, for the production of a range of frozen food and meals. This company was bought by the Hazlewood Group in 1985 and the Olaf name was retained till 1990 when the company name was changed to Hazlewood Frozen Foods. HFF consists of a number of manufacturing units located throughout UK and includes names such as Chic O Roll, Forest Foods, Pann Krisp, Clear Lyne and Rowan Foods. They manufacture a wide range of frozen ready-meals, battered and breaded fish portions and a very large number of pancake rolls under their own brand name, plus the HFF logo. Additionally, they manufacture for major nationally and internationally known food companies, in both the retail and manufacturing sectors, and are amongst the market leaders in this sector.

Finished products are routed to the Wrexham site for subsequent storage and distribution. The success of HFF created a shortage of cold store availability and additional storage capacity had to be found, which was inevitably off-site. By late 1988 it had been decided that new facilities were required and subsequently it was agreed that a vast new distribution centre should be constructed in conjunction with the new Rowan Foods ready-meals factory, then on the drawing board. Rowan Foods was being designed to be at the forefront of |state of the art' factory technology, to enable HFF to be one of the leaders in ready-meal production. Wrexham was still the favoured location because of the proven employee performance and the good relationship which had been built up with the Welsh Development Board.

One of the tasks of the working party was to examine existing storage systems throughout UK, to evaluate, in particular, pallet racking and mobile pallet racking. Link 51 (Storage Products) Ltd were selected because their systems appeared to be substantial and reliable - reliability being a key factor, especially in the frozen food sector. As Keith Goodyear explained "we particularly liked the Cubestor system. A visit to the Link 51 factory at Telford was very impressive and the optional layouts as demonstrated on their sophisticated CAD system reinforced our confidence in the professionalism and competence of Link 51 to satisfy our requirements. Link 51 was not the cheapest but we thought we would get better value for money".

The new cold store is 1.4 million cu ft in volume, with a cooling capacity of 350kw and it operates at -28C. The Link 51 requirement was to supply a storage system totalling 6500 pallet positions, of which 4250 would be mobile and 2250 static. Stormor XL pallet racking was used to accomodate four-way 1000 by 1200mm pallets with a profile of 1675mm and a pallet weight factor of 1100kg. Bay storage depth of 1100mm ensures that should 800 by 1200mm Euro pallets enter the system they can be accomodated within the structure.

The Cubestor system consists of 14 mobile chassis, each taking 10 double bays with 5 storage levels at increments of 1950mm. The static racking complements the mobile system with its top beam level being 7.9m high.

With the system live, how is the Link 51 Cubestor performing? A loaded chassis is carrying 360 tonnes, it moves quietly and smoothly and, again to quote Mr Goodyear, "the top products do not wobble".

To complement the storage system BT Rolatruc were again selected to provide the necessary materials handling equipment. HFF said they were not interested in using other equipment because BT Rolatruc's record with them was very good and their back-up service 'second to none'. Four RT 1600 HDE CSE Reach Trucks have been supplied. These trucks have 8.5m masts, specially made for cold store work, which includes the use of stainless steel components to prevent corrosion, low temperature oils and controls which can be used with thick gloves. Eight LT 2000 CSE powere pallet trucks complete the picture.

Noticeable in the cold store is the fact that the reach trucks do not have enclosed heated cabs for the operator. As the general manager of distribution explained: it was, in their experience, far more flexible to have equipment to allow the driver to do other work when not actually operating his reach truck. In other words, the operator inside his protected cab would have to stay there and not be available to work in the-28C cold store as and when required, so creating a rigid system.

The physical operation of the cold store is computer controlled by pallet allocation. All receipts ex factories are pre-planned and checks are made on arrival against computer printed detail lists. A pallet contents check having been made, a location is then allocated and the pallet put away - normally in the Cubestor section of the cold store. A check is carried out every day on the location of products moved, as a safeguard against mistakes having been made due to cold condditions slowing mental ability - a proven hazard of working at -28C.

Three week stock holding is the basis of the cold store contents, with a 7 day order cycle for delivery to customers' Regional Distribution Centres being the norm. Obviously emergencies are dealt with but HFF like to be abe to book 'window times' for delivery 3 clear working days ahead. This creates an ideal environment with cost effective drops.

The last two hours of the 16 hour day (two shift working) are when the bulk break operation is carried out. Requirements for the next day are known and the static racking is filled from the bulk holding in the Cubestor system to satify picking demands for the following day. Everything in the cold store is on 'positive been verified for quality standard before issue. Apart from that, the sight of a spotlessly clean warehouse shows that the standard of housekeeing is immaculate.

To complement this 'state of the art' cold store centre, HFF have paid great attention to the all-mportant distribution function, attention which enhances every facet of an operation designed to carry the HFF quality standard to the customer.

An expanding fleet of 15 9/5 Series 310 Leyland DAF tractors and 25 trailers fitted with Thermo King units provides the distribution muscle, with Leyland DAF selected by HFF in common with their policy of looking for reliability and enjoying peace of mind, knowing that their operation was backed up by Leyland DAFaid.

The tractor/trailer units are also provided for -an automatic wash-down unit is installed on-site to ensure high standards of cleanliness and hygience are maintained. This unit is also available, on payment, to other users. HFF vehicles are resprayed every 15 months.

The distribution operation is organised so that drops are made by areas. For example, all deliveries to the South are schedlued for Mondays/Tuesdays, thus effecting the most cost-effective routeing. In carrying out the drops, co-operation is required by everyone because the longer the trailer is open for pallet unloading the more hot air is drawn in, which tends to condense round the cooling fans, a possible problem area. New EC regulations are calling for a delivery temperature of frozen goods not exceeding -18C, placing even more emphasis on a requirement for a well planned, co-ordinated distribution system.

Link 51 have not just been involved with the cold store. The adjoining new factory, Rowan Foods, producing frozen ready-meals also contains Stormor 'XL' pallet racking for both ambient and chilled raw materials and for packaging stores, whilst Stormor eURO-Shelving has been used in the engineers stores.

Readers wanting more information on the Cubestor system should contact Link 51 (Storage Products) Ltd at Link House, Halesfield 6, Telford, Shropshire, tel: 0952-682251.

PHOTO : Link 51 mobile racking system seen at Wrexham
COPYRIGHT 1991 Food Trade Press Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Wrexham, North Wales
Publication:Food Trade Review
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Dec 1, 1991
Previous Article:Food Trade press moves again.
Next Article:The chill factor at Milton Keynes.

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