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L.B. Foster installs garment system for 4 million units at Clipper

L.B. Foster Materials Handling has designed, manufactured and installed a garment handling and storage system with the capacity to store up to 4 million units at Clipper’s new deconsolidation centre at Wynyard Park near Teesport.

Clipper’s supercentre is built on 22 acres with a footprint of 350,000 sq ft. In addition it boasts three vast internal mezzanines, each 165,000 sq ft.

The company’s first customer for the centre is Asda, with a 10 year contract for its George clothing brand. Previously the George garments were held in two separate Clipper facilities, one in Leeds and one in Darlington. Both of these sites had reached the limit of their capacity, so hence the new facility.

The L.B. Foster storage and handling system, which occupies half of the new facility, has been designed to process up to three million George garments per week. The fit out contract provides 43,000m of overhead monorail transportation,4,000 overhead rail trolleys,1500m of long distance trolley conveyors, ten full length goods on hangers (GOH) trolley boom conveyors, two tower conveyors, traversing extendable carton boom conveyors, pallet racking, pallet and carton live storage,a steam tunnel and bagging machines.

  • People packing clothes on production line with hanging conveyor system.
    • People packing clothes on production line with hanging conveyor system.

    Selecting a bespoke solution for smooth stock flow

    Phil Houghton is the Business Implementation Manager for Clipper, he has been overseeing this important project. He explains why Clipper chose LB Foster for the prestigious garment processing and storage contract, “Having worked in the conveying and automation environment for around 25 years I was already well aware of L.B. Foster. As a matter of course we included them in our initial tender which was sent out to eight companies.

    The tender process was particularly protracted because we were considering several site locations close to Teesport that had all of the relevant location attributes we needed. We were looking at a number of developments; each had their own positives and negatives. This meant that we were looking at possible solutions for a number of potential sites and our plans were constantly fluctuating from one development to another.”

    “As a result it took 18 months from initial tender to contract signing and during that time we had superb support from L.B. Foster. One of the main reasons they were selected was the exceptional level of response they gave us during the long tender process.”

    Houghton continues,“Another key element in making our choice was their input into the design of the garment system. The L.B. Foster team is experienced in this type of installation and they were willing to share their skill, knowledge and expertise with us to provide a purpose built solution to meet both our current and future needs.”

    L.B. Foster completed on time in spite of the fact that they were also removing existing equipment from a previous site, decommissioning it and recommissioning it again for this site, all during the live operation. They were proactive throughout the whole project, always doing more than just responding to our requests.

    Optimising the flow of garments to increase productivity

    Product sourced from around the world is received into the ground floor of the Wynyard facility to be processed ready for onward transportation to Asda’s three regional distribution centres (RDC) inWashington, Lymedale and Northampton.

    Both of these mezzanines have been completely fitted out with a two tier GOH Hook-in® racking system capable of storing over a million garments on each floor, with every racking aisle serviced by L.B. Foster’s Tectrac® manual overhead trolley rail system. The third mezzanine is empty at present in readiness for future expansion – it too is accessed by the tower conveyors.

    As the garments arrive on the upper floors they can be put into holding lanes or taken directly to the required storage location. The faster moving stock will be placed nearest the tower conveyor – the slowest moving towards the outer edges.

    Once garments are picked, a pre sort is carried out into 1 of 5 areas of trolley holding lanes representing RDC orders in product type, size and colour to await call off from the ‘goods out’ teams. To save walking time on the huge mezzanine floor, L.B. Foster has installed a constantly moving System 31 conveyor around the perimeter of both mezzanines. This feeds picked stock back to the central area in readiness for the pre sort, and eventual transfer down into outbound stock on the ground floor.

    Future proofed to 2020

    Installation of the garment system took an 18 man team almost four months to complete. “L.B. Foster was working to a tight deadline,”Phil Houghton comments, “there were interdependencies between contractors and this was managed very well.”

    “We are now enjoying the benefit of processing all of the George clothing under one roof for the first time. This saves significant road miles on moving containers and increases the efficiency of the entire operation. The new facility is future proofed with the capability and capacity for anticipated growth, up to 2020.”

    • Clothes hanging conveyor system.
      • Clothes hanging conveyor system.

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