Clancy Consulting Pivotal in Developing J D Williams new Warehouse Facility

Article posted on: 24th March 2015

Work is now underway and gathering pace on the construction of a new Warehouse facility for J D Williams at their national distribution centre in Shaw, Oldham. J D Williams is the principal subsidiary of N Brown Group plc, a leading omni-channel retailer which includes some of the UK’ s best loved fashion brands including JD Williams, Jacamo and Simply Be.

Prior to commencement of this development the site in Shaw had comprised a pair of former Victorian Mill Buildings, converted for use as warehousing, together with a modern automated highbay facility. However, the existing facilities were at capacity, forcing J D Williams to rely upon expensive third party storage that also limited their ability to process orders quickly. Increasing demand for ever greater choice and the ability to pick and dispatch from a greater range of goods also demanded a greater number of more readily available pick locations. In order to meet these demands J D Williams faced the choice of either moving to a new site or developing their existing site to realise its full potential.

Clancy Consulting have provided Project Management support from inception, when they were initially responsible for pulling together a multi-disciplinary team before managing the planning process. Clancy Consulting have also provided Engineering support throughout, through both their Civil / Structural and Building Services Departments, as well as providing Flood Risk Assessments, geo-environmental advice and developing a strategy for achieving Part ‘ L’ building regulation compliance as a ‘ non-exempt low energy building’ . Following an extremely difficult and prolonged planning process, one that was heavily influenced by local objections and client requirements that were evolving throughout the process to reflect changing economic and market conditions, permission was finally granted in 2011.

Since that time, Clancy Consulting have continued to work with J D Williams helping develop the scheme in combination with an internal process designedto provide semi-automated picking from 193,000 locations, integrated with their existing warehouse management system via a new batch buffer. The scheme involved the engagement of a new Architect, selected following a design competition that Clancys developed, and which included targets for increased building efficiency and value engineering. This approach to achieving maximum value was later incorporated into a bespoke design and build procurement process for the shell and core that Clancy Consulting were again pivotal in developing, and which finally lead to the appointment of Eric Wright Construction as main contractor. Clancy Consulting have also been instrumental in coordinating the design of the building with that of the fit-out, and for providing support to JDW throughout the fit-out procurement.
The design of the new buildings has posed a considerable challenge to the designers, not least because of the restrictive historic boundaries which largely dictated the footprint and orientation of the new building, as well as the topography which slopes quite steeply away from the existing buildings. The design team including J D Williams have therefore worked hard to come up with a scheme that makes efficient use of the area available, whilst at the same time including the minimum amount of retaining structures to produce a building that gives J D Williams the space they require at the lowest possible cost.

The new buildings comprise three main parts, the BDC pick-face warehouse, transition wedge and link building. The 20m high pick-face warehouse will provide approximately 80,000 square feet of floor space over two floors positioned to coincide with the ground and first floor levels of the existing Lilac Mill to which it must integrate. The ground floor will occupy approximately half of the overall building footprint, and provide areas for sorting and packing ahead of 7 outgoing loading docks. The suspended first floor will support a racked mezzanine structure, complete with high speed automated lifts and an integrated conveyor network, that will form the main pick-face area to provide 193,000 individual storage locations over a total of five floor levels. These pick-faces will be fed via a new conveyor system from the existing high bay bulk store, direct from HGV trailers via incoming loading docks on the far side of the existing Mill Building.

The transition wedge is five storey building that will provide further storage as well as welfare space for the J D Williams workforce, whilst also facilitating a change in building orientation between the existing and new.

The Link Building is orientated to match the existing mill building, and occupies the space of an earlier single storey north light roof structure that was demolished to make room for the new structure. This new link building will provide a further 15,000 sq feet of space, spread over two floors, that will also be used to house a new batch buffer system. Using a series of semi-autonomous shuttle cars four automatic lifts, and a new conveyor network the system will select and store boxes of picked goods received from the pick face into a storage buffer, before being picked in batch sequence and sent to the next stage consisting a packing process, and despatch.

The new warehouse area will be heated for frost protection only by means of air source heat pumps. Summertime temperatures will be controlled by anautomated natural ventilation system, developed in house in conjunction withmarket leading ventilator suppliers Colt, comprising a series of roof and wall mounted opening ventilation louvres. Additional ‘ green’ energy will be provided by a substantial array of solar PV cells to be mounted on to the roof of the adjacent Briar Mill.

The shell build is due to be completed in July of this year, whereupon work will commence upon installation of the internal mezzanine and mechanical handling equipment, with the building scheduled to come into full operation by February 2016.

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