Relocating a national distribution centre is a huge challenge for any ­organisation, but when Chesapeake moved its UK pharmaceutical and healthcare packaging distribution centre, it had just 11 weeks to plan the move and 11 days in which to complete the relocation. Critical to the success of the transfer was materials handling supplier Atlet

Chesapeake’s pharmaceutical and healthcare packaging business has over 20 manufacturing facilities in the US, Europe and Asia including three based in Belfast, Westport and Limerick. Its UK distribution centre services four manufacturing sites and until April 2011 operated out of a 72,000 square foot warehouse in Northampton.

The situation
Moving to a larger warehouse in Swadlincote provided Chesapeake with an opportunity to extend and improve its distribution operation by increasing product volume and picking capacity by installing and incorporating a denser configuration of racking in a narrow aisle design.
The new operation necessitated changes to its fleet of trucks and its operational processes. Chesapeake UK & Ireland logistics manager Paul Oakey decided to turn to Atlet for assistance

Sophisticated solution analysis
Atlet deployed its Logistics Analyser, a piece of software designed to analyse and simulate potential warehouse solutions. Using data provided by Chesapeake, Atlet produced a simulation of the most effective materials handling solution.
Alan Pitt, Atlet account manager for Chesapeake explains: “The Logistics Analyser allows us to optimise a client’s materials handling operation and deliver the most cost effective, efficient and flexible solution. In the case of Chesapeake, we were able to demonstrate how the operation would work most efficiently, which included making every location a pick location, and what trucks the new operation would require.”

Keeping costs down
Atlet has been working together with Chesapeake since 2009 when it was first contracted to supply a new fleet of trucks for its Northampton warehouse.
Pitt says: “We always work hard to keep costs down for our clients. We have achieved this in a number of ways for Chesapeake, including introducing refurbished equipment, reducing the first year rates, extending lease terms and providing clauses in contracts that enabled them to exchange equipment after a certain period. We were also able to significantly reduce their energy consumption.”
Oakey says: “The option to take on Atlet’s refurbished equipment and the fact they reduced the rate for the first year was extremely helpful to the ­business.”

Pulling out the stops
Chesapeake wanted the warehouse relocation exercise to be completed with minimum disruption to its customers. The team identified an 11 day window of opportunity to move. However, this gave the project extremely tight timescales. The new warehouse’s revised truck fleet was to include the addition of three DCR trucks, which are built to bespoke requirements at Atlet’s production plant in Sweden. The production timescales were ambitious, but Atlet’s team made sure Chesapeake’s critical deadline was met.

Project management services
To facilitate the move Atlet provided additional trucks on a short term hire basis. It also provided an experienced project manager to oversee the project which involved moving 18,000 pallets in 11 days, which involved 45 people and the vehicles’ travelled a total of 42,000 miles.

The relocation was completed on time and with minimum disruption. The materials handling solution has proved extremely successful.

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