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Transdek has developed bespoke loading bay solutions for DFS Group, the UK’s leading sofa retail specialist, to enhance efficiency and safety at the retailer’s Glasgow and Edinburgh regional Customer Distribution Centres.

The project has enabled DFS to streamline its handling processes and reduce the risk to colleagues for unloading from height.

DFS has manufactured and sold upholstered furniture in the UK for 50 years, since 1969, and now has over 124 showrooms in the UK, Republic of Ireland, The Netherlands and Spain, and employs over 5,500 staff.

DFS wanted to improve handling efficiency in flat-floor loading bays at a number of its regional DC’s, where loaders were manually handling suites off ISO shipping containers and on to dropbox units.

As a cost-effective alternative to the original plan to fit dock lifts at each warehouse door, Transdek designed a bespoke modular loading lobby for each site, which allows DFS to wheel products directly on and off goods vehicles. Dock levellers and dock shelters were integrated in to the docking area to facilitate a seamless product flow.

Transdek also developed a bespoke dock lift with a three-metre by three-metre platform to move up to three of DFS’s furniture racks at a time between the warehouse and the loading lobby.

Adi Milburn, Senior Supply Chain Development Manager at DFS, said: “Transdek’s modular loading lobbies have given us multiple benefits. Staff can now wheel our furniture racks straight in to the back of vehicles, which has both reduced manual handling and speeded up loading.

“Even during our pre-Christmas peak, we were able to use a skeleton 3 man team to load vehicles. At the same time, loads can be picked and marshalled by one person with ease using the integrated person-riding dock lift.

The potential for manual handling injuries has been reduced, as the team are now working in a controlled, level environment and don’t have to manually lift items up in to the dropboxes. In addition, the risk of vehicle rear roller shutter injuries have been eliminated and we can now reverse our dropboxes right up to the loading bay, so they can be loaded in a secure and weather-proof environment.”

In order to simplify the installation process and to minimise onsite disruption for the project, which conforms to BS5950-1:2000, Transdek produced the loading lobbies in modular sections, with self-levelling legs to accommodate yard gradients.

A 94m2 square metre extension was fitted external to the main warehouse at the Edinburgh DC, which increased the number of loading bays from three to four, as well as providing extra storage and marshalling space. The entire, clad superstructure was secured to the main warehouse to provide a fully sealed transit lobby.

At DFS’s Glasgow DC, where the service yard is more space-restricted, Transdek designed a 117 square metre internal loading lobby to marry to three of the existing warehouse doors. The loading lobby was extended outwards beyond each door and a dock shelter and hinged dock flap fitted to create a sealed and protected loading environment.

Noise reduction flooring was fitted on both loading lobbies to support an optimal working environment for DFS’s staff. Interlocked traffic lights and shutter doors were also fitted at each loading bay to boost safety and security at the DC’s. The loading lobby tables have been designed to incorporate an additional dock lift in future, if required.

Adi Milburn went on to comment,

“Transdek worked proactively throughout the project and have designed the best solution for our needs. Their engineering input and attention to detail has been exceptional, and the finished products operate exactly as promised. We certainly plan to work with them again on future developments.”

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