Monday, 16 April 2012

Sainsbury's Distribution Visit (Hams Hall)

At the last Sainsbury's lamb Development Group meeting we were treated to a trip around the Hams Hall distribution centre just north of Birmingham.  I have to say that it took our collective breath away!  The site covers about 3/4 of a Hectare, in a single span shed and with 167 loading bays, that during peak times are used more than once a day!  It was very impressive to say the least with over 300 journey/day being dispatched from the site on over 160 trailers based at this one (of 10) site. The picture above shows the ambient storage area where non perishable goods are stored, such as toilet rolls, fizzy drinks, beer, cereals etc.  these are picked by specialist 'pickers' scooting around on forklifts, computers attached to their wrists telling them what needs to be picked next for the particular store they are collecting for.  All of the routes for every product are timed so targets for deliveries are very tight.  There are also signs around to building telling the staff if they are ahead or behind the schedule.  A great incentive for the team.
The area (above) is the chilled distribution section which is where the pallets of chilled goods are broken down by hand before being sent around an automatic sorter to the pickers.  The whole area is chilled to 3 degrees.  The pallets are given a bar code as they arrive and are automatically tracked from the storage area through the whole system, right up until they are loaded on to the lorry.  This tractability really gives confidence that products are being store and distributed correctly.  We found lamb from one of the suppliers, along side some from New Zealand all destined for stores around the west midlands.
I couldn't help taking a shot of this pallet of Carling, especially as we supply lots of the Malting Barley throught he Molson Coors Growers Group, so I really felt the supply chain was coming together.

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