When the worlds largest online fitness website and sports nutritional supplement e-tailer, US based wanted to work towards a market-leading position in the UK, they demanded fast results!

The issue was a comparatively slow delivery time, due to the use of a European third party warehouse facility based in the Netherlands. The client was aware they required more control over operations in the UK to maintain their worldwide reputation and decided to replicate the successful distribution centre model they operate throughout the US, into a new UK hub with the key aim of providing a next day delivery service.

With a worldwide turnover in excess of $500m, the client required UK expertise. After a rigorous selection process engaged Supply Chain & Logistics specialists, Gideon Hillman Consulting to manage the project. Time was of the essence, so an immediate ‘Core Project Team’ was setup to include Vice President of UK Operations; Associate Director and Managing Director of Gideon Hillman Consulting, plus a Director of Diamond Phoenix, Keith Washington.

Managing Director of Gideon Hillman Consulting outlined “Diamond Phoenix were chosen for their second to none service and industry expertise, which is why we involved Keith on the critical, joint core project team.

With the property secured, racking and shelving designed and ordered, this left the essential experience of Diamond Phoenix to understand the existing US distribution centres and develop the design layout for the tote conveyor system, this would complete the solution within the 42,000 sq. ft. facility.

From initial design to go-live was an industry achievement of just four months, which was testament to the core team fully understanding the client requirements and working to non-negotiable timelines, plus finding a solution that completely delivered on all fronts!

A pedestrian zone pick operation where orders are picked to tote bins from carton live flow rack, static shelving and pallet rack, then taken by pick trolleys and put onto the conveyor to the packing area.

Orders are taken from the totes, packed into branded boxes and conveyed through to the semi-automatic volume fill, close and seal station.

Closed cartons are then transported on ‘Zero Line Pressure’ accumulating conveyor to the goods out despatch area.

A third conveyor returns the empty totes to the picking area to begin the process again.

There were two main goals that needed to be achieved in the project both relating to speed and strength.

The first was speed of installation: knew they needed to react quickly to obtain the market growth in the UK at the right time. Choosing the right partners was part of the strategy to avoid any delays. With the key support and expertise of Diamond phoenix, the project was operationally live in four months.

The second client goal was speed of delivery: customers insist on next-day delivery and this is a core strategy for growth for any UK e-tailer. The Dunstable facility is now capable of processing 10-14K orders per day, from thousands of products, which provides them the strength of continued growth and longevity from the site. The UK fulfilment centre now rivals the speed per sq. ft. of any US hub in the armoury.

In addition the hub also manages the European orders and the solution has reduced EU delivery time by 50%, providing them with further opportunity to gain an important foothold in key European countries.

The facility design maximises short pick distances and minimal pick times, it has the potential to run a 24/7 operation. The pick, pack and despatch capacity is close to 100,000 orders per week and it supports essential stock replenishment, product returns and goods in.
Caroline Underwood, Vice President of Operations, commented “Diamond Phoenix were the right partner with the solution we were looking for to get this fulfilment centre up and running quickly.

Diamond Phoenix Automation is one of the market leaders in the design, integration and installation of innovative material handling and picking solutions.
In response Graham Boner, Managing Director at Diamond Phoenix said “This completed facility is a testament to our ability to be a key player and collaborate with partners to deliver rapid results. The ability to understand client requirements first time is crucial and highlighted in this successful project.”

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