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Logistics and Warehousing
iForce was founded in 1997, right at the start of the eCommerce boom, as a technical solution to supply chain order and fulfilment by retailers and distributors. In April 2017, the company was acquired by Eddie Stobart, and now the two organisations run in close partnership, offering complete end-to-end fulfilment of retail orders, returns and logistics.
Part of the company’s growth was a major new fulfilment depot in Corby, Northamptonshire. At 860,000 square feet (80,000 square metres), it’s a truly mammoth operation, but it’s what is required when you are fulfilling orders for names like John Lewis, Tesco, Screwfix, Dunelm Waitrose, Fortnum & Mason and Cath Kidston, among others. Because of the different demands and methodologies of the various clients, the warehouse was divided into specialist areas, including fully racked zones, bulk storage areas and pick and pack workstations – each of which needed both power and data cabling, and its own RCD protection circuit. Stobart asked McLennan to design and install the electrical and lighting installations. We had already worked alongside Stobart at their heritage centre in Crick, 20 miles to the west. However, this was a very different job.
We moved in when the warehouse was still a building site, indeed before the flooring had been laid. The first part of our contract was to install mains power distribution to the whole building. In all, we installed 3 km of containment to carry the various cabling around the depot.
Next, we had to install energy efficient intelligent lighting throughout the building. With much of the lighting at 17m above ground, this required some cherry picker action, definitely not for the faint hearted, but all par for the course at McLennan. The lighting is specialist gear, with motion detection switching to maximise efficiency and light level monitors that adjust power usage as the lighting requirements change.
Safety of the employees and the physical assets cannot be left to chance in an operation such as this, so another important installation was an advanced smoke detection system. It uses beam detection technology, which consists of a transmitter and a receiver that send and detect UV and IR light. If the beam is partially obscured by smoke, the alarms will trigger; however, they are smart enough to not to be alerted by objects or insects coming between them, so there are few false positive alarms to interrupt productivity. In a space the size of this warehouse, beam detection is the best – if not only – option.
Finally, we installed 250 amp battery charging stations for the all-important MHEs (material handling equipment – fork lift trucks, trolleys etc.) that keep the whole operation moving products from place to place. We also installed a Schneider busbar system so that new charging units can be easily installed.
An interesting element of this task was that as soon as we signed off an area, the equipment and staff would move in. iForce was eager to get the warehouse earning money as soon as possible, so we were working zone by zone, against the clock, to get sections open. By the time we were completing the last installations, the warehouse was almost fully operational. Of course, this all had to be done while maintaining the strictest standards of safety.
The warehouse is now fully functioning and is a key part of Eddie Stobart’s iForce operations. And McLennan’s safe, reliable, secure and efficient electrical installations have made it all possible.
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