Case study

WSL Successfully Streamlines Operations for Food and Logistics Specialist

Using their expertise and wealth of experience our client provides essential support to the food service industry.  Working with a wide range of sectors including hospitality, health care, education, travel and many more our client works strategically using the expertise of their own nutritionists, chefs and procurement managers to ensure the perfect food products for each of their customers.

The food and logistical specialist has continuously evolved over six decades with over twenty warehouses and distribution facilities across the UK distributing food products to schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, hospices, airliners and independent food and drink establishments.

Distributing ambient, chilled and frozen goods daily, our client was seeking a newly improved and fully optimised handling and picking process in their South based warehouse. With a plan to reconfigure their existing warehouse by stripping out some of their current wide aisle pallet racking system (standard APR) and relocating internal walls, ceilings, sprinklers, fire alarms and cooling systems WSL was approached to design an optimum solution that would maximise the space and streamline their processes.

Multi tier picking system - Module


The Design

During the initial meeting, our designer Tim, gained effective knowledge of the client’s operational requirements and was able to develop a solution that would meet the specific site requirements.

The plan included three CE Marked ( now UKCA) modules of multi tiered rack supported picking systems:

The ambient, chilled and frozen areas would each gain two additional floor levels built out from the pallet racking bays. Running the length of the module between the pallet racking bays would be carton live shelving on which inventory can be placed quickly and easily from the pallets in the adjacent bays close by. Carton live shelving is slightly tilted and incorporates rollers to allow loaded items to travel through gravity towards the picking face, enforcing a higher throughput speed and automatic stock rotation.

Carton Live Shelving


A total of thirty-two pallet gates would be incorporated with twelve fitted to the frozen and ambient modules, and eight fitted to the chilled module. With the use of forklift trucks the pallet gates enable the safe transportation of loaded pallets too and from the upper levels.

Pallet gate shown as open and closed


Two tier Mezzanine floors were installed at both ends of each module and goods lifts were integrated at either side adjacent to the tower staircases. This allowed goods and staff to travel too and from each level with ease whilst the blended look of the enclosed staircase between the lifts gave the areas a modern look.

Multi tier rack supported picking system module

Closed in tower staircase


Fire Safety

The solution was designed with the highest level of fire safety precautions with the inclusion of a fast, safe and easy escape route from each module. These were in the form of a landing extending out from the mezzanines leading to emergency exits and staircases. The location of the chilled module meant the exit door was external which meant a galvanised fire escape staircase would be built on the outside wall.

External mezzanine floor staircase providing emergency exit


The installation

Using the varied skills of up to twenty installers, the dynamic build process was completed on schedule despite the national lockdown due to Covid19. Arriving on site in October 2019 our installers began the first phase which was to construct the chilled module. By March 2020 the project was midway through constructing the frozen module which was the second phase when work had to be paused due to the Covid19 national lockdown.

During lockdown the large space in which we operate meant WSL was able to continue manufacturing safely with additional measures in place. This meant the mezzanine floor components, pallet gates and staircases both internal and external would be readily available for when the site could reopen.

End and central walkways

Liaising through video calls and emails WSL was able to work with our client and other contracting companies during the weeks of lockdown to produce a new working plan which would meet the new Covid-19 Government Guidelines. This included amendments to the risk assessments and method statements that were already in place to eliminate close contact between team members. New procedures and measures would include temperature checks on arrival to site with additional PPE including face masks and gloves issued to every team member.  Start and finish times were to be staggered as well as breaks and regular hand washing would be introduced.

Lift inside and enterance

Prior to the reopening of the site all team members were issued a brief of the new measures to ensure they had enough time to familiarise themselves with what would to be a completely new way of working.

On their return in late April our teams adapted to the new measures and were able to complete the project without issue. After completing the frozen module, our teams were able to move on to the ambient storage module and the construction of the external staircase leading out as an emergency exit from the chilled storage mezzanine platform.

The project was completed and signed off early August, leaving our client is seeing the benefits of a productive, streamlined picking operation.

Our design technician Tim said “Although Covid19 brought new challenges; we are pleased to have still completed the project on schedule”

goods Lifts


If you’re looking to implement new storage solutions in your facility and would like expert advice call WSL today on 0113 2045350 or email

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