Dynamic Storage Systems (DSS) are an independent storage designer and contractor, regularly chosen by companies across the UK looking to expand, streamline and increase efficiencies in their warehouse and storage facilities. DSS were invited to tender for Abena UK’s expansion into a new 50,000 sq ft warehouse near Coventry. Basic throughput data and site layouts were provided to all short listed suppliers. The challenge for suppliers was to come up with the most effective and competitively costed solution.

Abena is a global family owned hygiene and paper company that develops, produces and markets personal care products, tissues, skin care, gloves and other healthcare-related disposable goods to customers such as the NHS. The group employs approximately 1250 employees and has an annual turnover in access of $500 million USD. Abena has a strong and inspiring corporate culture where ethics and the environment are paramount.

One of the first things identified by DSS’s Howard Gillard was the tight timescale, due to Abena vacating their old warehouse in early January 2013. From experience Gillard knew it was possible, but to achieve the deadline would require strong, hands-on project management throughout, and a fitting team experienced in getting everything right first time. The tender process for Abena was about finding the right company to achieve the best design solutions and get the most value from their 50,000 sq ft warehouse. And of course, it needed to be a competitively costed solution.

From the initial tender briefing and through analysing Abena’s basic throughput data and building layouts, Gillard and Peter Marsh were able to design a range of solutions for storage capacity, effective use of space, throughputs, integration with existing fork lift trucks and ergonomic and clean room picking for particular products. For example, certain hygiene products need to be stored in a clean room or with lidded plastic boxes. Additionally there are difficulties in loose products on pallets needing to be stored on shelves above the ground floor pallet in the racking. DSS’s solution for this was to install carton live beds with roller tracks combined with plastic trays to enable loose products to be picked easily and efficiently.

DSS’s proposal was also designed to offer low maintenance costs and allow room for further expansion in the future. Through this combination of ergonomic design elements and competitive costs, DSS won the tender and work commenced 19th November 2012. DSS installed the pallet racking, shelving, carton live, rack labelling, signage, floor painting and mesh and barrier protection throughout the building and work was finished efficiently on time and within budget. Abena now have an energy efficient warehouse that meets their environmental concerns. It is designed for operational efficiency with a sophisticated warehouse management system. The capacity is more than doubled to approximately 3000 pallets, with four dock-levellers that speed up the distribution process.

As well as low ongoing maintenance costs, DSS have also ensured the layout is designed to offer further flexibility for expansion in the future. “Dynamic Storage Systems were involved in the Abena project from inception to completion and their approach was very organised, transparent and focused. They understood our requirements quickly, came up with an excellent solution and implemented that solution in a fast, safe and accurate manner. Throughout the project DSS kept us fully in the picture with excellent, clear communication.” – Colin Platt, Independent Consultant to Abena Abena’s owner Preben Terp-Nielsen officially opened the new premises in April 2013 with a 2-day event for customers and employees, including an inspirational presentation from Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. “From initial design concept to the final installation, this solution was bespoke to Abena UK. It’s another example of Dynamic Storage Systems’ ability to build strong relationships, deliver creative, cost effective warehouse design solutions, and ensure timely project management through to completion.” – Howard Gillard, Dynamic Storage Systems Managing Director.

Key Learning’s

• Be clear in your brief – Abena were clear in their tender document what they were looking for. That meant they could compare all the tenders like-for-like. If you can’t be sure you are comparing like for like, how can you be sure you’re choosing the most competitive tender?

• Think ahead – businesses invariably change and so do the demands on a warehouse. A good design should allow for flexibility, saving additional costs in the future.

• Look beyond basic racking costs – an experienced warehouse and storage designer can give you far greater efficiencies through understanding workflow, ergonomics and ongoing maintenance cost.