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Lansing trucks for Gateway at Ross-on-Wye.

Lansing Trucks for Gateway at Ross-on-Wye

Within less than twelve months of its opening, Gateway's regional warehouse depot at Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, had to be enlarged from its original 200,000sq ft to nearly a quarter of a million including 14,500sq ft of chill store.

Before its expansion, the total number of products exceeded 5000. Now its complement is in excess of 6500 and, as depot manager Ted Yates says: "As never before, success in retailing is dependent on the extent of the range of products consistently on offer at any time under one retail roof".

The warehouse, built on a 14 acre greenfield site, maintains a stockholding sufficient to meet the two week needs of the 106 retail outlets it services in an area stretching up to mid-Wales, across to Birmingham and down through Oxford and Swindon to all that area north of the M4 motorway.

Gateway has built super regional warehouses at Bridgwater, Ross and Huntingdon. In addition, there are smaller warehouse units servicing localised catchment areas at Farnborough, Aylesford, near Maidstone, Rainham (Essex), Hucknall, Derby, St. Helens, Anlaby, near Hull, Washington and East Kilbride.

At Ross incoming deliveries, both part and full palletised loads, are off-loaded by one of a fleet of five Lansing Seven two tonne engined machines and loosely block stacked ready for manual checking by supervisory staff.

The pallets are then transferred to an internal pick up point where the next stage of the processing into the warehouse is undertaken by the OPUS stock management system.

Goods are handled by one of the 16 Lansing R 20 P two tonne reach trucks (formerly the FRER 9.1), all with a lift height of 8.7 metres to cope with the five high stacking, to pre-selected pallet positions.

The deposition of each pallet is post-recorded on the keyboard fitted to each truck and linked to an IBM 38 computer.

Conventional picking is carried out at ground floor level or in part at intermediary bar level by one of the 37 Lansing N 20 low level order pickers (formerly the OLES 10.5).

Two Lansing medium level order pickers are used for selective medium level picking up to the fourth level of items, such as toiletries and cosmetics, that are usually required in break bulk order.

Racking is to five high with a total of 16,966 pallet spaces.

The warehouse is operational on a three shift system with a staff of 250.

The principle governing regional warehouses is eminently sound. It allows for the maximisation of the range, minimises deliveries by outside suppliers - particularly appreciated when outlets are situated in crowded city centres and on-street off-loading is only possible - creates cost efficiencies by the scale of the operation. Ross is already servicing 75 percent of deliveries to each of the outlets within their region.

All the warehousing staff at Ross are productivity-based with the basic rate set at 80 percent of standard up to a maximum bonus factor of 115 percent.

After training, the pick level factor is expected to be at not less than 95 percent per trained operator.

Like every other area, Ross has its recruitment hurdles. Employment prospects radiate from nearby Gloucester where job opportunities are plentiful and varied; traditionally, Ross has known the sort of male job pattern where much of the work has been outside on farms or in forestry; further, there has been the need to institute shift working which is not always popular.

Ted Yates pays this tribute to his work force: "They have come together from all over the country for a variety of employment from road haulage to sophisticated computer stock recording. It is gratifying to be able to say that they have blended into a first class team".

Acknowledging the need for systematic efficiency within his operation, he adds: "We all know that 100 percent order picking success rate is not possible, but that must always be the target for at 99 percent there is room for improvement.

"The average weekly throughput in both dry groceries and provisions is above the 400,000 mark, and growing. Our need at this depot is to ensure that none of our retail outlets are without supplies of a particular line. We have not failed yet".

PHOTO : An RP 20 P reach truck

PHOTO : N 20 (formerly the OLES 10.5) pedestrian/rider machine
COPYRIGHT 1989 Food Trade Press Ltd.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Binsted, Howard
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Dec 1, 1989
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