NewCold has nearly completed the second phase of construction at its Wakefield deep frozen storage and distribution centre which, says the company, is set to become the largest of its kind in the UK.
Due for full operation by June 2018, the facility will handle 3,000,000 pallets annually and with a total volume of over 1 million cubic metres and pallet storage capacity of 143,000 at minus 23 degrees, it boasts some of the most advanced automated technology anywhere in the world.
The storage plant is fully automated to ensure cold chain integrity, and minimal handling helps to eliminate temperature fluctuations. For example, when the doors of a trailer open they do so into the frozen environment so that there is no risk of the product being exposed to ambient air. Furthermore, the dispatch bay is deep-frozen, whereby many conventional stores have only chilled bays.
Pallets are off-loaded from NewCold’s bespoke-designed double deck trailers using moving floors which connect to a conveyer system. From there, shuttle cars and buffer lanes handle 175 pallets in and out every hour and just five minutes is required to unload a trailer. The automation used maximises product integrity and eliminates human error on picking orders.
Given the location of the Wakefield site and proximity to the motorway network, 90% of NewCold’s delivery points can be reached and returned from within a driver’s shift – which further improves efficiency and customer service.
“Automation is all about investment” says NewCold’s Country Director Jon Miles, “and Wakefield is consistent with our business model in all the countries we operate throughout the world: We design and install our own handling systems to ensure maximum efficiency and total control over every aspect of the operation. Since we opened here in 2015, the business has grown significantly and successfully and that has enabled us to re-invest back into the expansion plan.”
Although the Wakefield site relies on fewer personnel than conventional storage facilities, the business employs 130 people and expects to recruit a further 100 over the next two years, which, says Jon Miles is positive news for the area.
“We have a number of major contracts on the horizon” adds Jon, “and already we are projecting to be over 70% full by June 2018. Our logistics operation is also expanding in line with the core operation and we now operate 50 tractor units and 75 temperature-controlled trailers – many of which are high-volume double-deckers with auto-loading.”
NewCold has a strong capital partner in the form of US private equity firm, Westport Capital Partners, which means the company can continue to finance new projects in the UK and around the globe.
“Our growth plan for the UK is far from complete” concludes Jon Miles. “With demand at its highest ever in the UK deep-frozen storage sector, coupled with the probability of additional business stemming from Brexit, we are looking at additional UK facilities to strengthen our leading position as a ‘one-touch’ provider of end-to-end frozen logistics and supply chain solutions.”