CLASS Enables PalletForce to Go Live
June 4, 2009
CLASS Enables PalletForce, the UK’s Largest Pallet Distribution Centre to Go Live, Just as Planned.
Palletforce, one of the UK’s leading organisations in palletised freight distribution, has recently opened a new £30 million hub – the largest pallet distribution centre in the country – and the opening went exactly as planned, achieving an optimum operation from day one. This was achieved in large part thanks to the company’s use of the CLASS Warehouse Layout & Simulation tool, which allows innovative strategies for design and operations to be thoroughly tested in the safety of the computer environment before commissioning begins.
With typically about 400 vehicles projected to enter and leave the new site every day, the main challenges for Palletforce were clearly going to be traffic flows and parking, and the company needed to assess a range of innovative ideas to manage these issues, including a dedicated fast track lane served by a section of the warehouse specifically designed to provide a cross-dock operation.
The modelling and simulation process took place over some 18 months, reducing the warehouse planning time that would otherwise have been required by about six months. Palletforce used CLASS to test initial plans, identify alternatives and assess these in a series of iterative exercises that built one upon another until the best solutions were established. This work generated information enabling Palletforce to identify the best layout across the site as well as the optimum size and orientation of the warehouse building, creating a design blueprint for the construction team. By running CLASS, Palletforce was able to model day-to-day operations and, using the tool’s KPI functions, was greatly assisted in planning the interior of the warehouse for optimum efficiency from day one. Simulations were also undertaken, stress testing the warehouse operation at current volumes and running ‘What if?’ scenarios looking at the impact of substantial increases in pallet numbers.
The experience of the Palletforce team using CLASS was that the visual dynamism and clarity of the tool was not only helpful in communicating the issues amongst themselves; they proved of great assistance in presenting plans to the board and, further along in the process, to the operatives and drivers so that they could familiarise themselves with the new site ahead of opening.
“CLASS enabled us to open a major hub providing a highly sophisticated operation without a single glitch and had effectively paid for itself twice over by the day we began operations,” explains Christian Mander, Senior Business Analyst– Palletforce. “Not only did it substantially reduce the time needed to plan the warehouse, the tool enabled us to save potentially 25% of space inside the hub and 25% on parking outside.”
The new centre is based at Burton-on-Trent. It has 273 lorry spaces – approximately 60 fewer than would typically be the case given throughput levels. It operates 24 hours a day, providing ‘smart technologies’ to ensure faster delivery turnaround and an impressive transport distribution operation.