First phase of Workwear Uniform Group’s £15m AutoStore now operational

Posted on 7 Jan 2024 by The Manufacturer

Workwear Uniform Group (WWUGL) is set to revolutionise its operational efficiency and significantly reduce its carbon footprint with a £15m investment in a state-of-the-art AutoStore warehousing system.

The first phase of the fully automated warehousing and distribution product handling system is now complete. The cutting-edge technology promises to transform the speed items are picked and dispatched, the quality of customer service and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

Boasting £100m annual turnover and an international reach, WWUGL is a UK market leader in the sourcing, design, manufacture and distribution of technical workwear, PPE and bespoke corporate uniforms to large, multi-sited organisations.

The industry-first AutoStore development at the Group’s Oldbury headquarters in the West Midlands forms part of a substantial, internally financed investment programme which aims to double turnover over the next five years.

WWUGL Chief Executive Sam Sohal said: “We are investing in new technologies and innovations to drive our industry growth, whilst reducing our carbon footprint.

“Not only does this unique development help us as market leaders by providing our customers with the best possible delivery of goods, but it also allows us to get the maximum use of space and still have room to double our business with a new system that is more efficient and accurate in our overall stock management.

“In addition, the AutoStore system will reduce our CO2 footprint and energy consumption to help meet our goal of being carbon neutral by 2025.”

In 2021, Direct Corporate Clothing (DCC) acquired Incorporatewear to form WWUGL, the largest independent workwear, uniform and personal protective equipment business in the UK. Previously, the two businesses occupied three logistics sites totalling 180,000 sq ft of space.

WWUGL has developed one of those sites at Oldbury into a super hub and appointed Dematic as partner in designing, building, and supporting intelligent automated solutions. The maket leading development is Dematic’s largest AutoStore project in the UK.

The extensive goods-to-person automation project maximises space and streamlines storage – the 40 x 95m grid can store nearly 130,000 bins – with 60 robots working from nine picking stations improving inventory and shipment accuracy.

For customers, this means even shorter lead times as more of their branded stock can be stored to help them navigate peak periods and meet unexpected stock demand.

The project’s second phase, which includes software functionality and connecting conveyor, is due for completion in the second quarter of 2024.

Alongside the new automated warehouse, WWUGL is rolling out a best-in-class ERP system which will allow Group brands to offer customers real-time dispatch, stock, SLA and back-order information with tailored customer dashboards showing key management information.

Rebecca Jones is Managing Director of DCC, experts in large-scale co-ordinated rollouts of high-volume orders for major organisations in key industries including construction, facilities management, rail, logistics and retail.

She said: “Effective order fulfilment has become a top priority for our company dealing with a high volume of orders, major labour constraints, and the continual need to do more with less.

“As a growing business, we are turning to innovative technologies to streamline our storage and increase our operational efficiencies and ultimately lower our carbon emissions output by reducing energy requirements and maximising our operation output.”

Read more of our Automation articles here