sanisburys-nhampton-49.jpgWhen Sainsbury’s were fitting out their new Regional Distribution Centre at Swan Valley in Northampton they turned to Berry Systems for the flexible spring steel safety barriers throughout the 530,000 square feet building (49,250 square metres). They also asked them to supply the wheel guides, stops, loading bay bollards and height restrictors. Berry had previously supplied the barriers to their Hams Hall Distribution Centre back in 2002 as well as at Rye Park, Waltham Point and Haydock. So Sainsbury’s have had first hand experience of their effectiveness and durability. Since then the barriers have proved their worth time and again and remain fully in use today.

Working in conjunction with Buckingham Group Contracting and Quantity Surveyors Davis Langdon Everest, the brief was to install safety barriers to protect personnel, external cladding, plant, internal structures including columns, pedestrian walkways and warehouse equipment. The internal barriers needed to be double height – i.e. to fit flush with the floor to prevent the forks from fork lifts and pallet trucks from sliding below a standard barrier. Berry’s unique solution to this problem provides solid steel protection from floor level to a height of 600mm. In fact the system was first developed for use at Sainsbury’s Hams Hall Distribution Centre.

The total installation involved nearly 2 kilometres of safety barriers, most of it mounted on either Berry’s unique spring steel buffers or on their Flexi-Posts. Both systems allow the barrier to absorb impacts and so reduce damage to the vehicle and the barrier. This also drastically reduces the forces on the anchor points and so avoids expensive repairs to the concrete.

As well as the barriers, Berry also installed nearly 300 bollards and 300 wheel guides. These, together with the 9 height restrictors were supplied in Sainsbury’s orange to enhance the corporate style throughout the facility.

One of the most vital parts of the installation was the 49 column protection units. These units have been designed by Berry to protect structural columns from impacts from warehouse vehicles or even HGVs. Those installed at Swan Valley featured three curved monostrut rails mounted on spring steel buffers which will absorb the knocks and bangs occasionally inevitable in a facility like this. Without this protection a serious impact could lead to significant structural damage to the building and a repair bill out of all proportion to the cost of the column protection units. Most of them were installed inside the building but the columns supporting the exterior loading bay canopy were also similarly equipped.

Sainsbury’s Northampton RDC at Swan Valley has been awarded the Green Award for Sustainable Achievement by the Industrial Agents Society (IAS) and is claimed to be the most environmentally friendly distribution centre in Europe. The building contains a number of advanced features designed to drastically reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions including innovative wall-mounted photovoltaic panels that generate electricity; solar walls; energy-efficient lighting systems and an on-site power plant that generates electricity for on site consumption whilst also utilising the heat generated to raise the temperature of the water used at the cratewash facility. The cratewash also utilises a rain water harvesting system, expected to save over 3 million litres per year of mains water.

Allen Macadam, Sainsbury’s supply chain project manager for the Northampton depot development is delighted with the Berry Barriers: “Although this is one of the most advanced Distribution Centres anywhere in Europe, there was no need to re-invent the wheel when it came to the safety barriers. We know from our other locations that the barriers perform to a high standard. We have looked at other materials but you can’t afford to cut corners where safety is concerned and so we decided to stick with what we are confident is the right product for us to use.”

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