When multinational logistics systems provider Siemens Dematic was awarded the systems contract at supermarket giant Sainsbury's new regional distribution centre at Hams Hall, they contracted us to supply and install the conveyor support platforms.

The work

The 65,000m2 automated, paper-free, distribution centre is the first significant part of a wide scale re-engineering of Sainsbury's supply chain network, and is designed to handle ambient, bulky, perishables and produce networks to serve over 200 Sainsbury's stores.


Products are delivered by suppliers as palletised goods, and picked by case or item before being despatched to individual stores in roll cages or on pallets. Sophisticated materials handling equipment including pallet conveyors, automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) for pallets, belt conveyors and totes ensures a continuous flow of goods.


A double deck cross-belt sorter is also used for perishable product cross-docking from 0800-2130, and for ambient sortation from 2130-0600 (although if needed, both ambient and perishable goods can be picked concurrently).


In the ambient storage hall, we built two mirror image platforms along opposite walls. Each platform supports conveyor systems routing pallets to 16 pallet stripping stations. Pallet stripping is enhanced by using 16 mini platforms, suspended from the main structure, each supporting a scissor lift. This enables the lifts to be parked below the decking and raised to operational level when required.


Built on a very large basic column grid, 14.6m by 8m, to ensure maximum space below the platforms, each platform is 1850m2 and is installed to a finished height of 6.2m. The largest beam spans are up to 18m long, 914mm deep and weigh over 4.5 tonnes. At one end of each platform we installed 5 'finger platforms' extending beyond the main structure to allow conveyor runs to reach the ASRS racks.


We designed the platforms to suit the static and dynamic loads from the many conveyor runs throughout the mezzanine level. The main platform was also designed to accommodate robotic machinery, of the type used in car production lines, and to connect to 12 columns shared with an adjacent structure. After the main structures were installed, 19 additional operator platforms (incorporating 12 different designs) were mounted on each mezzanine.


The result

The phased programme was delivered by our mezzanine operatives on time at every stage of the mezzanine project to the agreed standards. Our time-efficient programme execution enabled Dematic Siemens to focus on the installation of the automated technology for Sainsbury.

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