Marshalls Warehouse Solution Design
February 27, 2014
Marshalls is the leading UK manufacturer of natural stone and concrete hard landscaping products for domestic and urban environments, a marketplace that proved vulnerable during the recent recession. In response to the downturn, Marshalls’ management decided to shut a number of its sites and move their operations into other existing sites. St Ives in Cambridgeshire, the location for two of Marshalls’ factories, for example, was earmarked to absorb most of the volume from two of the closed sites, as well as taking on the production of a product range that was entirely new to the site.
All loading, unloading and storage took place outside in an operation that was managed manually so Marshalls was understandably concerned about the possible effect that the increased volumes and new range might have on throughput. Management wanted to know what extra MHE and labour resources they should employ and how best to re-organise the layout of the yard. There was also the option to purchase a plot of land adjacent to the site and managers needed to know for certain if this investment was necessary.
They decided to use CLASS to model the site and then simulate future operational scenarios and, because they had never used such technology before, they appointed Cirrus Logistics to handle the project using its Warehouse Solution Design process. In this way, Marshalls had the benefit of a prescribed approach, customised to meet the particular requirement and managed throughout by the Cirrus team. Testing, Testing
One thing was clear at the outset: the consolidated site would be very busy with about 100 vehicles arriving every day and some 450 loads out each week. In a series of ‘What if?’ exercises, the team modelled a day’s activity on-site, the assumed arrival and departure times of vehicles and their expected loads. The impact of peaks and troughs in traffic volumes on available resources was assessed and, using the Site Traffic module of CLASS, Marshalls was able to analyse the flat bed vehicles going in and out of the gatehouse to ensure that there would be sufficient flow of these vehicles around the site. The work also tested plans for the layout of the yard. The range of products – some manufactured in the St Ives’ factories, others brought in – meant that the factors determining where vehicles should be at any one time were complex. Data relating to forecast stock holding requirements was input to ascertain if there would be enough space within the existing site and whether it was necessary to purchase the additional land.
When evidence showed that it would be required, CLASS was then used to plan the layout of this new area, testing ideas for how best to utilise it in terms of product types, roadways and gangways and how best to seamlessly integrate it with the current yard.
The Warehouse Solution Design project delivered a new 3D layout fit for immediate implementation. Easy-to-understand and use, print-outs of the model were given to the team leaders enabling them to manage the site changes for themselves. The attractive visuals helped generate team commitment and the image is still used as a site map for newcomers. The increased operation went ahead smoothly and with maximum efficiency with activity on the new land assimilating well with activity on the old site. Layout improvements and better location of certain types of product either for the factories or for the loading docks ensured throughput was maintained at the required levels. In total, Marshalls achieved a 10% saving in MHE, an 8% reduction in labour and an 8% improvement in manpower hours against the existing throughput.
“The veracity of the CLASS model was impressive as was the facility to go on running varied simulations until we were certain we had the best solution. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that our chosen model was about 90% true to the real thing when we began the revised operation.”
Southern Regional Logistics Manager,