In today’s increasingly tough business environment, the pressure is on warehouses and other business premises to be as efficient as possible in their use of space. When designing and refurbishing industrial working areas, the arrangement of the internal walls has a profound effect on how efficient the space is likely to be when in use and how easily it can adapt later on as the business changes. The key is enabling the workspace to be as flexible as possible from the outset, with semi-permanent space division solutions from a trusted partner.
Westgate are experts in factory dividing and doorway solutions, led by their Flexiwall product, which is the subject of a special Knowledge Guide available from their website. Westgate also supply a range of temporary site screening and window film solutions and have been serving the warehousing, manufacturing, construction, retail, hospital and fit out sectors for over 40 years with an array of products covering many different needs.
Westgate is centrally located in Stafford. Cliff Cane, Key Account Manager for the warehouse and logistics sector, spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.
Warehouse & Logistics News – First of all, Cliff, what does your role as Key Account Manager for Westgate involve day to day? Do you go out to meet customers and help devise their solutions?
Day to day my role involves consulting customers on their segregation needs to control dust, temperature, odours or cross contamination, using our range of partitioning solutions, the most popular of which being Westgate’s Flexiwall product. I work directly with the main 3PL companies like DHL, Great Bear and NFT, and also with the distribution centres for major retailers and online retailers including Sainsbury’s, M&S, Waitrose and Amazon. This activity regularly sees me attend site to evaluate the facility and establish what solutions work best, as it is definitely not a case of one solution fits all.
WLN – Who else is in the Westgate team besides you? Do you cover the whole UK?
Internally we have a great support mechanism. I have a design and estimating team responsible for compiling and sending out proposals, an internal sales support team who are on hand to progress proposals and projects if I am unavailable, and very importantly I have our in-house operations team, who are responsible for delivering all agreed projects to completion. Last year we established a dedicated in house research and product development department, with the key objective of increasing the rate at which we innovate and continue to bring both new products and product improvements to our customers. In answer to your second question, yes we cover all the UK, Ireland and have also completed partitioning projects within wider Europe.
WLN – When was Westgate founded?
Westgate was formed in 1977, so we have been fortunate to recently celebrate over 40 years in business. This is a real USP for us, as we can usually evidence to potential customers where we have previously delivered a similar solution.
WLN – Where do you make your Flexiwall products?
Our product is manufactured here in the UK to ensure that we can turn around a partitioning solution quickly. We have been known to go from enquiry to completed installation in as little as four weeks, dependent on the size of the partition.
WLN – Is the partitioning and segregation part of your business growing? Why do you think this is?
Yes, this year we have seen growth in the region of 16% across our industrial partitioning range. This growth has been driven firstly by increasing our visibility across the core sectors in which we operate, attending exhibitions, placing advertisements and having an active digital and social presence. Secondly the strength and changing face of the economy has also kept businesses investing in facilities, which is always a real positive growth factor when it comes to partitioning.
WLN – What different factory dividing options do you offer?
There are two main types of system, floor to ceiling and part-height. Our floor to ceiling product is Flexiwall. Flexiwall is designed and manufactured in panel form, to meet the exact profile of our customer’s building.
These panels are then suspended from existing steelwork, battened and tensioned to form a partition wall that takes up only millimetres of floor space. We also offer part-height partitioning solutions. These are our Hoardfast and Anchorwall ranges, which are constructed of either PVC or steel materials. The Hoardfast range is also available as a freestanding option, where a semi-permanent partition is required, leaving no lasting damage to the floor.
WLN – What materials are your Flexiwall partitions made of? How fireproof are your partitions?
Flexiwall comes in a range of materials, including a fire-resistant PVC coated polyester or fireproof woven glass cloth material, coated with a silicon or polyurethane coating. Our materials have undergone a range of tests which we supply on request with each project, but as an example one of our fireproof materials has been tested to BS476 Class O rating.
WLN – How quickly can you supply and install a semi-permanent solution?
The quick answer is that we can turn around partitions in as little as four weeks, however lead times can be driven by the overall size of the wall or enclosure required and the complexities of the installation and onsite access.
WLN – How much disruption and mess are involved in installing Flexiwall?
One of the key features of Flexiwall is that after the design and final survey stage the full partition is manufactured off site and delivered ready to be installed. The unique materials and installation methods used mean that there are no heavy construction works required and therefore dust and disruption are kept to an absolute minimum. We can also work to phased and out of hours installation plans based on each customer’s requirements.
WLN – How easily can Flexiwall partitions be removed after use? What damage does removing them cause to the building?
Flexiwall is quick both to install and remove. Damage to the property is minimal, evidenced by the use of this product in many rented facilities. When removed there will be a number of small holes where the product has been battened and tensioned to the floor, which are no bigger then a screw hole, and in the event that additional steel work has been used at ceiling height, this can also be removed leaving no trace of where it was installed.
WLN – What other features does Flexiwall have?
Flexiwall can also be designed in corporate colours or with corporate logos. This is something that our customers really latch on to as it creates a more branded working environment, great for visitors and employees.
The unique v-overlap that connects the panels, and the way in which the partition is installed provides an over 99% dust tight seal, even where there are a number of existing penetrations.
One of our material options is translucent and allows a great deal of light to transfer between areas. This feature is very appealing as it prevents the need to invest in additional lighting, something that solid partitions find difficult to overcome.
WLN – What industry standards do you work to? What difference does this make to the quality of your products?
Westgate are committed to achieving industry leading standards and accreditations. The company holds ISO9001 and ISO14001 certifications and is currently working towards ISO45001. We are also Chas, Constructionline level 3 and Safecontractor accredited. Working to and achieving industry standards or accreditations creates standardised processes within Westgate. This gives confidence that we create products and deliver a service that together are the best in the market, because they follow these processes and guidelines.
WLN – Can you talk about any major customers and outstanding projects?
Well-documented projects and customers we have completed projects for include; NFT, where we created a temperature controlled enclosure in a new warehouse facility: Great Bear, where we created a one-hour fire rated partition between racking, to allow for the storage of pharmaceutical products: Allport Cargo Services, where we enclosed a mezzanine floor to prevent dust getting to high value and stored products.
WLN – In your recently launched Knowledge Guide, you talk about semi-permanent partitions. Can you tell us more about these? How long a time is ‘semi-permanent’?
Flexiwall, which this particular knowledge guide refers to, is designed and installed as a permanent partition, but with a unique advantage that it can be, if required, removed, reconfigured or relocated, all without lasting damage and with minimum disruption. There are live examples where we have reconfigured existing Flexiwalls that have been in place for over 20 years. These and many more case studies can be found on our website westgatefactorydividers.co.uk