D&H Distributing, based in Harrisburg, Pa., will open its largest warehouse facility to date in Atlanta, Ga., in early May of this year. The automated distribution center is the result of a two-year study conducted by the distributor to determine best practices for optimizing its warehouses based on size, location, and stocking. It will also enable D&H customers to reduce their freight costs by up to 6 percent, according to the company.
The 476,000-square-foot warehouse, which can be expanded to 680,000 square feet, will serve the Southeast and areas of the Midwest. Shipments to these regions were previously accommodated by smaller warehouses in Dallas, Texas, and Jacksonville, Fla., but due to the size of these facilities, not all products could be stocked in these locations. The larger Atlanta facility, which D&H designed from the ground-up, is engineered to eliminate many of these multi-sourced orders, resulting in quicker shipments and fewer freight fees. With the addition of the distribution center, D&H's locations will have parallel logistical efficiencies, including optimized inventory offerings in all warehouses, allowing shipments from D&H to reach the majority of the country in two days or less.
The warehouse integrates two high-speed "slat shoe" sorters that can accommodate more than 8,000 cartons per hour, with a total of 2.5 miles of conveyor belt inside the facility. It also has 50 shipping and receiving doors and 17 divert lanes that which direct packages to the correct outbound trucks.
The new center will also comply with D&H's "go green" conservation strategies, including energy-efficient T5 and T8 lighting throughout; automated zones with sensors to shut-down lighting when personnel aren't present; energy management software to halt sorters and conveyor belts when packages are not being transported; on-site recycling of plastic and cardboard; and additional local recycling of wood pallets into mulch.
The Atlanta facility will employ approximately 100 D&H co-owners on its opening day. The logistical efficiencies of the Atlanta distribution center will eliminate the need for the smaller Dallas and Jacksonville warehouses, whose operations will be combined into Atlanta.
"This is a big investment in the future on the part of D&H at a time when many other companies are cutting," says Michael Schwab, co-president at D&H Distributing. "We intend to support our resellers with the best possible infrastructure we can offer as they continue through 2009 and grow--and there will be opportunities for growth, especially in the long term."