Distribution centre for fashion retailer combines thermal efficiency with reliable logistics performance

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The high street fashion retailer with nearly 300 stores in the UK, Ireland and the rest of the world wanted to build a new distribution centre from which it control its logistical operations. The new 46,000 sq ft building needed to combine efficient distribution performance with low carbon emissions and impressive thermal insulation. Working together, Sara Loading Bay Systems and Kingspan Group were able to meet all of these requirements.



The contract to construct the distribution centre was awarded to Buckingham Group Contracting, demonstrating the company's leading position within the regional distribution and retail sector. The project involved the design and build of two warehouses, accessed by 47 loading bays with dock levellers and six level accesses. One of the warehouses accommodates the internal structure for a two-storey transport office and three-storey, high quality office accommodation.

The retailer has made a public commitment to operating in a way that is mindful of the demand on the planet's limited resources across all of its stores, offices and warehouses. To this end, it was specified that the new warehouses that make up the distribution centre should be constructed with a BREEAM rating of 'Excellent' for the highest levels of long-term energy savings and reductions in carbon emissions. BREEAM is the environmental assessment method for buildings around the world. It sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design and has become the de facto measure used to describe a building's environmental performance.

To meet these requirements, Buckingham Group Contracting turned to Kingspan Group and Sara Loading Bay Specialists. Kingspan Group is the UK's leading manufacturer of sustainable products for the construction industry. The Group's innovative products include insulated panels, rigid insulation boards, raised access floors, steel frame and timber frame off-site solutions, environmental and renewable fuel and water storage solutions, and hot water systems.

Kingspan specified and supplied insulated wall and roof panels for the construction, playing a vital role in meeting the required BREEAM rating. Importantly, the panels are all fire safe, ensuring that a high level of safety goes hand in hand with the insulation performance. The single component, pre-engineered panels require only a single fix and thus reduce build time. With no cavities, gaps, cold bridges or interstitial condensation risk, the panels offer low air leakage of 5m3/hr/m2 or better and reliable thermal performance.

The contract to equip the loading bays went to Sara, which supplied a complete package comprising doors, sealing pods, dock levellers, traffic lights and access shelters. Sara worked with Buckingham Group Contracting and Kingspan throughout the design and build stages to ensure the right equipment was specified for the job and that it would fit perfectly with the Kingspan panels. The close partnership even extended to making sure that the doors colour-coordinated with the wall panels for a pleasing overall aesthetic appearance.

With 47 loading bays, it was also important that the warehouse doors should be properly insulated to give the same thermal performance as the roof and wall panels. Sara specified thermally insulated sectional overhead doors that are constructed using Kingspan Insulated Door Panels. Their impressive insulating and Firesafe performance combines with highly efficient open/close operation to further reduce heat loss.

The efficiency theme continues with the automated dock levellers, which help to eliminate any bottlenecks for incoming and outgoing goods. The electro-hydraulic dock levellers are constructed from high tensile steel, with the platform using an 8mm Dubar non-skid steel plate. The levellers are supported by purpose-designed longitudinal angles hinging at the rear on pivot shafts made from St52 grade stainless steel. Sara dock loaders are designed, tested and manufactured to comply with BS EN 1398 with a full operational load capacity ranging from 3,000 to 11,000kg per single axle load.

The dock shelters and seals also help to maintain efficiency and save energy costs. Sara dock shelters have two vertical side curtains and a horizontal head curtain attached with a special aerolastic wind guy system to maintain curtain positions. The curtains are constructed and machine stitched in heavy-duty 3mm thick PVC Derco. All fabrics are specially coated and are colourfast.

With the warehouse construction completed and fitted out to the fashion retailer's specifications, it has an impressive logistics facility from which it can service the whole of its network of stores.

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