Dexion delivers real time distribution solution for global UAE Retailer

by Case Studies on 2013-12-11 08:43:52

Dexion - Distribution Centre Dubai

In a distribution centre located in Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone, 3.5 million garments patiently hang, waiting to be worn. There are almost enough garments here to clothe the entire population of Dubai twice over. And clothe them very well too: the labels include some of fashion’s most sought after names. During a busy week, anywhere up to 1 million garments will leave the building, only to be replaced by a million more.

Alongside these garments, there are tens of thousands of storage positions allocated for flat packed items, all of which will be delivered to shopfronts around Europe and the Middle East.

The facility of this UAE Retailer was completed in 2013. It represents a major expansion to Jebel Ali’s Dubai distribution centre, which houses one of the leading retail franchise operators in the world. This UAE Retailer manages more than 2,500 retail stores across the Middle East, North Africa, Russia, Turkey and Europe. In July 2011, it engaged leading storage and materials handling specialist, Dexion to design the high volume, fast moving distribution centre, with a team drawn from the company’s regional network. Dexion’s General Manager of Sales in Asia and the Middle East, Simon Ingram was thrilled that the UAE Retailer selected Dexion as its partner.

Dexion CaseStudy - Distribution Centre Dubai 1

“Working closely with the client, we forged a truly collaborative partnership that allowed us to develop and implement the agreed concept,” said Ingram.

Dexion has had a strong presence in the Middle East for over 50 years. However, until recently, it was mostly known in the market for its racking capabilities. Dexion has worked hard to change this customer conception.

“In Australia and New Zealand, Dexion is regarded as a leading provider of integrated supply chain solutions. Yet championing the logistics and integrated systems sector in the Gulf poses its own challenges,” observes Ingram.

“As a business, we were looking for the right partner and opportunity to demonstrate our integrated systems capability. We found both in this UAE Retailer. We are two companies that are experiencing growth – both are armed with committed and experienced teams who share the common goal of achieving excellence within the supply chain and distribution centre operations sector,” added Ingram.

The Retailer’s franchise business was founded in 1983. In recent years, its footprint has grown at a rapid rate. The existing Jebel Ali distribution centre was built in 2007 and reached its design capacity just four years later. Despite its significant capability, the site is also expected to reach capacity by 2016. A third site is already at the advanced planning stage.

When first approached to work on the project, Dexion’s team of specialists insisted on reviewing the raw data behind the statistics included in the RFP.

“We knew that the raw numbers were essential to providing a solution that supported the business requirements detailed in the tender,” noted Ingram.

“Some businesses, quite understandably, prefer not to issue raw sales data, growth and acquisition projections. However the numbers helped the team define a very clear baseline, from which we could then design the most efficient storage and materials handling solution. For example, we found that we could significantly change the footprint of the existing facility by reducing the flat-pack storage areas by 25% and further utilising the planned GOH (Garment On Hanger) storage,” added Ingram.

“The client was happy to share its data. In fact, the whole design process has been extremely collaborative and we found working with the team very gratifying. The company places great value on its supply chain and distribution centre operations. It has invested heavily over the years, truly believing it to be a real point of difference and a value proposition for both its current and future brand partners,” said Ingram.

Construction of the site began in October 2011. Components and equipment were sourced from Dexion’s Asian manufacturing plants and material handling equipment partners. Dexion configured the RDS (Real-time Distribution System) software to meet the client’s defined business requirements.

Dexion’s Project Manager, Murdo MacKinnon described the project as having two distinct phases. The first was the construction of the new building, which adjoined the existing and operational DC.

“A challenge to implementation was the fact that the existing site had to remain operational throughout construction. Timelines were short. Our teams literally worked right in behind the builder as each cured slab was available for handover,” reflects MacKinnon.

“In a short time, we installed the VNA (Very Narrow Aisle) Racking, a storage solution providing 36,000 pallet locations and a rack-supported 4-tier GOH solution providing storage capacity for 3.6 million garments.”

“Servicing these GOH storage locations required over 12 km of overhead monorail garment conveying rails and trolleys. They also demanded over 4 km of carton conveyors to facilitate the movement of the flat pack items. Each aspect of the DC is centrally controlled by Dexion’s RDS, which acts as the Warehouse Control System (WCS),” added MacKinnon.

Construction of the new building was completed on schedule after a 12-week construction period.

Dexion CaseStudy - Distribution Centre Dubai

With over 30 different brand concepts in the facility, dynamics vary in terms of stock movement and replenishment. Many of the brands stored are in high demand by consumers, which means it’s vital that the orders are accurate and quickly delivered to the shopfloors.

This is where Dexion’s RDS (Real-Time Distribution System) has played a critical role, managing the logistical aspects of the distribution centre under one umbrella. MacKinnon likens RDS to an orchestral conductor, getting different players and instruments to chime in at just the right moments. In the case of the DC, which distributes over 1 million items per week, RDS is instrumental in moving the right items to the right places at just the right time.

With the Retailer’s stock sourced globally, most items arrive by sea freight, spending between 3-6 weeks on the water. As part of the project, Dexion and its client were determined to reduce the amount of time that the stock spent on the water.

According to Ingram, cross-docking capability is important as it’s impossible to sell product when it’s in the warehouse. MacKinnon agrees.

“Rather than waiting until the stock arrives to complete the process, we implemented a solution whereby stock is pre-allocated to the stores while still on the water. Using the ASN, when goods are unloaded, the pre-allocated orders are transported via the conveying system to the multi-tier, ‘put-to-store’ module. Then it’s packed, sorted and palletised for dispatch to stores in Dubai or across the wider Middle East. A large percentage of stock will be managed in this manner, with the remaining store replenishment stock to be stored in the DC,” explained MacKinnon.    

The second phase of the Jebel Ali project involved converting the existing facility and integrating it with the neighbouring new facility. This aspect was still underway at the time of writing this article. In the final solution, the new facility will play a pivotal role in the facility’s cross-docking capabilities – the area contains flat-pack and GOH put-to-store processing modules, tote and carton conveying, garment conveying and carton sortation.

According to MacKinnon, Dexion couldn’t ask for a more professional client than its partner, the UAE Retailer.

“The Supply Chain and Operations team were very open with us and clear in their objectives. We worked collaboratively to develop a fine tuned solution,” said MacKinnon.

“At Dexion, we’ve always been passionate about how companies should look at their supply chains as assets and opportunities to create value. It’s wonderful to work with a team who understand the merits of what we do, and can implement and utilise our expertise to position their businesses for long-term gain,” concluded MacKinnon.

The complete facility is now live.

About Dexion
Dexion is an international specialist in manufacturing and marketing a broad range of products to assist industrial and commercial customers solve their shelving, storage, filing, distribution management and materials handling challenges. With operations throughout the Asia Pacific Region and the Middle East, Dexion’s core product offerings include: pallet racking, shelving and integrated systems used in logistics, warehousing and storage, as well as filing solutions including cabinets, shelving, lockers and Compactus® mobile storage used in the commercial sector. Dexion operates with a global network of suppliers who manufacture components and complementary products.

Dexion's industrial business combines order fulfilment and distribution functions with materials handling equipment and sophisticated software to build automated systems that increase speed, accuracy, security and flexibility. Its systems deliver the benefits of improved productivity and profitability due to the smarter thinking that goes into their design.

Dexion's commercial business provides products for every commercial and specialist storage application.  These products are complemented by a range of services that help customers achieve the right balance between space utilisation, safety and value. Dexion also has a network of franchises and dealers across Australia, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. These businesses deliver a variety of industrial and commercial storage systems for businesses of all sizes.

Customised training, state-of-the-art design tools, active research and development, rigorous product testing, after-sales-service and a lifetime product warranty support the strong reputation of the Dexion brand.

Dexion is part of the GUD Group, which manages a number of leading consumer and industrial products companies across Australia and New Zealand.

To learn more about Dexion’s systems integration expertise, call 1800 100 050 or visit