Palmer and Harvey, the UK’s largest wholesaler, today, announced the opening of its 14th distribution centre at Hemel Hempstead, and the third serving the South East region. The £6.5m multi-temperature distribution centre is opening because of increased demand within the M25. It is the company’s most technologically advanced and the most environmentally friendly. When fully operational the distribution centre will stock 12,000 ambient, frozen and chilled lines.

The Hemel Hempstead distribution centre will serve 5,200 customers and will employ 300 staff.

All orders will be voice-picked ensuring that errors are kept to a minimum and will reduce pick times (compared to traditional methods).

The distribution centre has been designed with efficiency in mind, for example, the freezer is located beside the chiller this ensures maximum energy efficiency with any air escaping from the freezer helping to keep the chiller cool. There is a fully automated temperature control in the chiller/freezer areas and the Siber system has been installed for C02 gassing of thermo-containers (to allow for multi-temperature deliveries).

Hemel Hempstead uses the latest green and energy efficient technologies including flicker free lighting (which saves 25% on standard fluorescent fittings). The lighting has been designed to avoid electricity surges, with movement sensors in operation. The majority of waste will be diverted from landfill, with extensive cardboard and plastic recycling and plans to compost all food waste.

The centre’s fleet includes vehicles designed to minimise their impact on the environment, including having a ‘tear-drop’ design, and new wind-reflectors to fuel consumption. In addition, most will have in-cab telematics which in-combination with driver training can reduce fuel consumption by up to 10%. As with the rest of the company’s network, this distribution centre offers multi-temperature delivery which has reduced food mileage significantly.

Health and safety has been a key operational consideration and not only is the diesel tank located underground (to ensure spills are kept at a minimum), there are also additional interceptors, emergency spill kits and the latest design of fill pumps. There are also fully integrated in-rack sprinklers and fire detection systems providing the highest level of fire protection.

The Hemel Hempstead distribution centre will be led by Ian Harbour, distribution centre manager.

Julian Streeter, managing director, operations, Palmer and Harvey, said “Palmer and Harvey now has 14 distribution centres, Hemel Hempstead is not only our most efficient but also our most technologically advanced and the greenest. We will now have three distribution centres serving London and the South East.

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