European Conveyor Systems Ltd supplied and installed a sophisticated high-volume goods handling system for order picking and stock replenishment at Toolstation’s distribution centre at Redditch, Warwickshire. Toolstation Ltd are a fast-growing supplier of building products.

Toolstation’s ranges of tools, hardware, fixings, accessories, work-wear and electrical, heating and plumbing materials include more than 10,000 products sold through catalogues, the internet and trade counter outlets throughout the UK. All customer orders and store replenishment were previously handled at the head office premises at Bridgwater, Somerset. The company now has a 14,000m2 warehouse at Redditch specifically to support its expanding network of trade counter stores.

Having previously designed and installed the conveyor system at Toolstation’s Bridgwater premises in 2005, ECS was appointed for the project at Redditch. This had to be designed to service some 14,000 rack locations, a 1500m2 mezzanine floor and a shelving facility. Over 4,000 pallet locations are in VNA and some 10,000 locations within a wide aisle system. The whole system is bar-coded throughout.

The conveyor system serves three functions – goods-in, replenishment to storage and picking to despatch. In-coming goods arriving on pallets are checked by staff and put into totes that are either conveyed to the small parts area on the mezzanine or to bulk storage. The conveyor system has two levels in the goods-in area – one taking full totes to the mezzanine, the other bringing empty totes back for re-use. Around 2000 product lines are put into stock every day.

Order picking is either into totes on the mezzanine floor or into cages carried by electric trucks on the ground floor. From the mezzanine the totes are carried to the marshalling and despatch area via a decline belt and various powered and gravity conveyor sections.

All products are carried on the conveyors in 600mm x 400mm X 200mm Euro-totes with maximum loads of 25 kg, maximum throughput being 600 totes/hour. Altogether, some 200 metres of conveyor of various types have been installed, including belt, powered roller, gravity roller and ECS’s zero-pressure accumulation system, which allows totes to queue without touching one another and so are easier for staff to handle.

Toolstation’s operations director, Adam Keates, praised the achievement of ECS in providing the conveyor system on time and on budget. ‘The ECS team has successfully delivered the optimum conveyor solution for our requirements efficiently and cost-effectively’, he said.

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