Norwegian clothing manufacturer Helly Hansen operates most of its company fleet at its European distribution centre in the Dutch town of Born. The fleet has been upgraded in close cooperation with UniCarriers, its main forklift truck supplier. Helly Hansen thus benefits from a modern fleet which meets its requirements and provides an optimum logistics framework for the coming years.

Born distribution centre.

In 2011, Helly Hansen moved from its existing European distribution centre (EDC) in Echt in the south-eastern Netherlands to a new, larger facility in neighbouring Born as a result of sustained company growth.

“We were bursting at the seams at our old location. We had also centralised our warehouses at the time,” states Hans Heijdeman, EDC Operations Manager at Helly Hansen. Workwear stocks were warehoused at a separate distribution centre in Sweden until 2011, but they are now stored together with sports clothing at the Born EDC. Spread over 20,000 m2, the EDC boasts 60,000 storage spaces and houses 24,000 stock-keeping units. The centre holds a total of 2.5 million items in stock. Helly Hansen ships around 320,000 packages and 17,000 pallets to customers throughout Europe and Russia from its EDC every year.

Growth continues unabated. The company recently expected an increase in turnover between 10 and 15 percent for sports and work clothing alone.

Excellent partnership

Helly Hansen has placed its trust in UniCarriers handling equipment to manage all incoming goods and orders for many years. “We have an excellent working relationship. We work together with our key account manager at UniCarriers to optimise our fleet on a continuous basis. Our partner is also highly flexible if we need additional forklifts to deal with spikes in orders, for example. The UniCarriers service technician who has assisted us on site for years is equally as important, if not more. He’s a true specialist, a perfect fit for us on both a professional and personal level. He is pro-active, deals with problems, no matter how small, and is now highly familiar with our specific wishes and requirements,” declares Heijdeman. In view of this experience, it was only natural for the operations manager to turn to UniCarriers again when it came to upgrading the fleet. The forklift manufacturer supplied more than 40 new vehicles for the upgrade. Consisting of five reach trucks, two electric forklifts and 36 low-, medium- and high-level order pickers, the fleet has been leased for a time period of 72 months, including service agreements and battery management. Helly Hansen and UniCarriers have also agreed to hold a six-monthly review, during which they talk about the use of the forklifts and any damage.

In-house transport scrutinised

“We took a close look at our in-house fleet when we replaced our forklifts,” states Denis Rutten, Supervisor at the EDC. “We worked together with UniCarriers to study aspects such as how we could make our employees’ workstations as ergonomic as possible. This not only involves control systems, but also things like having enough storage space.” Helly Hansen attaches great importance to sufficient space in the vehicle not only for a wide variety of tools and resources, but also for empty packaging. A great deal of packaging from incoming goods is reused for both reasons of cost and, of course, environmental concerns. “The extremely large storage compartments and flat vehicle body parts in trucks are ideal for us,” declares Rutten.

Smooth fleet operation

If nothing else, the new vehicles are significantly quieter and more comfortable. They are equipped with all the necessary scanners plus the Blue Spot optical warning system, which ensures maximum safety in the warehouse. Blue Spot projects LED light spots onto the warehouse floor to warn employees of approaching vehicles. The reach trucks also feature colour cameras which guarantee an optimum view for drivers, even when they are placing goods in storage at a great height. Thanks to the new fleet and the associated leasing agreement, there is now no stopping smooth in-house transport operations over the coming years. “We now have an optimum logistics set-up and plan to stay at this location for another six years at least. The company is expanding and we will continue to rely on support and assistance from UniCarriers for this growth,” stresses Heijdeman.