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TNT opens depot with 101 loading bays

03 March 2016

Hörmann has supplied loading bays for TNT's new £15.5 million super depot and sortation hub in Swindon.

As one of the world’s biggest express delivery companies, TNT delivers close to 1 million consignments every day. The business has a commitment to ongoing improvement and, as such, developed its Outlook programme of investment to further enhance service provision and stimulate growth.

With tens of thousands of customers across the South West of England, TNT recognised a need for more localised operations and opted to construct a new £15.5 million super depot and sortation hub in Swindon. The 56,000ft² warehouse facility was to be built on an 11-acre site close to the M4, providing easy motorway access to major towns and cities in its delivery area.

The new facility would remove the need for consignments to be passed through the logistics company’s Midlands hub, increasing operational efficiency, freeing up capacity elsewhere in the network and reducing the environmental impact of transportation.

TNT approached IDI Gazeley to deliver the new build-to-suit warehouse, with a target of the site being fully operational within just 26 weeks. Contracting Simons Construction to deliver the build and Kam Project Consultants as employer’s agent and cost consultant, the developer successfully handed over the site in August 2015.

With the brief and site specification all agreed by TNT, Kam and IDI Gazeley, loading bay and industrial door manufacturer Hörmann was appointed to supply the equipment for the building’s 101 loading bays. Hörmann had installed products on previous IDI Gazeley builds, so was well regarded by those involved. Most importantly, however, the manufacturer met all aspects of the specification, which took into account price, quality and capability to determine the best options for the site.

As a key distribution hub for TNT’s UK operations, the new site is expected to sort consignments quickly and accurately, so state-of-the-art equipment was installed, which enables the facility to process over 650 items per minute. With such a substantial flow of shipments in and out of the building, TNT needed loading bays to accommodate both long-haul trailers and the much smaller Pickup-and-Delivery (PUD) trucks.

IDI Gazeley’s depot design provided specific loading areas for the different types of vehicles used by the logistics giant. These included 40 docking bays for large trailers and 61 for vans and PUD trucks, covering a full three sides of the building. This design allows for the most efficient flow of consignments through the warehouse, while providing space for offices at one end of the building.

TNT needed loading bays to accommodate both long-haul trailers and the much smaller Pickup-and-Delivery (PUD) trucks.

Hörmann’s SPU F42 electric sectional doors were chosen for the large loading bays. These PU-infilled doors offer good levels of thermal insulation, helping TNT to reduce the environmental impact of its operations and reduce energy losses.

Dock levellers with swing lips were installed to allow easy unloading from trailers. The hinged lip of these levellers lifts up before being lowered onto the back of the trailer, creating a secure connection with the truck to ensure safe loading and unloading. Likewise double lifting cylinders and an anti-twist platform make these some of the safest on the market, meaning forklifts can be driven across the surface of the leveller without the risk of it dropping or tilting.

For added safety, Hörmann has installed an LED traffic light system both internally and externally. This alerts staff inside the warehouse when the truck is securely docked and it is safe to unload. Similarly it advises the driver when unloading has been completed and it is safe to pull away from the bay.

Additional safety measures include internal loading lights to ensure staff have full visibility while unloading, dock seals to limit rainwater run-off and Nytrex slider dock bumpers to prevent damage to the loading bay as vehicles reverse.

As the Swindon hub will see deliveries heading out to addresses across the South West, around two thirds of the doors on site are designed specifically for use by vans and PUD trucks. These fixed level bays are installed with manually operated SPU F42 sectional doors, which are lightweight enough to be easily lifted on demand by loading bay operatives.

The site will no doubt play a significant role in TNT’s future growth and improvement plans, and was consequently designed to manage extra consignments as required. Estimates suggest the warehouse is regularly operating at around 60-80 per cent capacity, with room to expand output during particularly busy periods, such as Christmas and Mother’s Day.

TNT Swindon is the latest in a number of major warehouse projects for Hörmann. Last year the manufacturer announced the installation of 21 loading bays at retailer TJ Morris’ new regional distribution centre in Liverpool.