Davies Turner re-invests in UK freight hubs

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Davies Turner – the UK independent freight forwarder – is completing a major re-investment programme at its main regional hubs. This follows its freehold acquisition of the 7,000 sq m (75,000 sq ft) Hams Hall Cross Dock in June of this year which is strategically located next to the Hams Hall road/rail interchange and just a few hundred metres from Davies Turner's two high-bay logistics warehouses at Coleshill. Such has been the expansion of business handled by Davies Turner in the Midlands that the company is now adding another 3,200 sq m (35,000 sq ft) of floor-space at Hams Hall by constructing a heavy duty mezzanine.

"The secret with such structures is to build them with the maximum spans between the supporting columns," commented Philip Stephenson. "In our case the columns are spaced over 9 m (29.5 ft) apart so as not to impede cargo handling on the ground floor. The Cross Dock platform also has the advantage of 40 loading doors with powered dock levellers, and it is at least 8 m (26 ft) high at the eaves. By installing conveyors and a double pallet lift, we have developed a transit warehouse, which is ideal both for fast moving consolidation services, and/or Internet order fulfilment. The site is over 2.5 ha (6.2 acres) so it has a very large service yard benefiting from a 2.4 m (8 ft) high weld-mesh perimeter fence and gatehouse security."

At the same time, the company has been investing in additional narrow-aisle racking at Coleshill which now has 12,000 standard pallet locations plus another 9,000 sq m (100,000 sq ft) of floor space for order picking, sortation and despatch. In the London area, Davies Turner is steadily replacing and renewing the powered dock levellers serving the 60 loading doors at its Dartford international distribution centre. Within the RDC energy efficient lighting has been installed and the service yard has been raised by up to 30 cm to cater for new trailer loading heights.

"We built this hub nearly 20 years ago and all such equipment is more than fully depreciated," added Stephenson. "These secure premises now operate on a 24/7 basis, handling many hundreds of vehicles every week so we need the most reliable and robust handling equipment, adapted to modern trailer and container chassis loading heights."

For some trade lanes, Davies Turner has to operate double-deck trailers and it has also purchased extra long 16.35 m (53.64 ft) trailers to trial on its overnight feeder services.

In Northern England, Manchester is the company's main regional distribution centre but it also connects daily with the Davies Turner hub at Cumbernauld between Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as via the company's Dublin Branch and with Bristol for South Wales and the West Country.

Davies Turner has also leased a third warehouse in Avonmouth of 4,500 sq m (50,000 sq ft). "This is the basis of much-needed expansion for Davies Turner in the South West as our RDC was already working close to full capacity," continued Stephenson. The company has benefited from growing demand for its combination of multimodal freight forwarding, warehousing and distribution services.

"Our aim is as ever to offer customers the complete supply chain management package, together with our global network of consolidation services," according to Stephenson. The multimodal aspect is confirmed by the new scissor lift, powered loading bed and 5 ton pallet mover that Davies Turner Air Cargo has recently installed in its Heathrow distribution centre for handling skids and ULDs (Unit Load Devices). This is located alongside the company's state of the art x-ray equipment, which is necessary to expedite freight and maintain the company's DfT security listing.

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