Behind the scenes at Sport's Direct's national distribution centre

Written by: Pav Kaur | Published:
Sports direct facility manager at Martyn Joyce

Founded in 1982, Sports Direct International is one of the UK‘s largest sporting goods retailers, operating a diversified portfolio of sports, fitness, fashion and lifestyle facias and brands.

The company acquired HSM machines, to help manage waste from 1,000 stores across the UK, at its Shirebrook headquarters, where it is processed and recycled. Recycling plays a major part within the organisation’s corporate responsibilities and its ‘strict’ recycling standards mean all UK stores are monitored ‘closely’, ensuring there is no cross-contamination between recyclable materials such as wood, cardboard and plastics.

Facility manager at Sports Direct, Martyn Joyce, has been responsible for the management of waste in the company for more than 14 years. With around 800 to 1,000 tonnes of carboard collected each month, due care and attention must be enforced at all times, especially with the large volumes of bales produced and the risk of cross-contamination of the different waste materials.

The organisation has its own on-site maintenance team which conducts daily, weekly and monthly checks. However, it also has a service contract with HSM, which means there are visits to the Shirebrook site every six months to do all the major servicing, making sure the machines are fully functioning all year round.

The relationship with HSM is more of a partnership, Joyce says. “We initially engaged with HSM when facilitating our original premises in Dunstable, and as a consequence of HSM’s understanding of our specified waste processing requirements we installed our first HSM Automated machine. This machine served us exceptionally well ahead of our eventual relocation to a purpose-built distribution hub in Newark, Nottinghamshire.”

One of the key objectives for HSM was having a real understanding of Sports Direct’s operational requirements, with solutions strategically located to handle waste either back-hauled from stores or generated in-house ergonomically and conveniently.

The solution

Sports Direct acquired its first HSM Baler in 2000, which “paid for itself in no time”, according to Martyn. One of the changes more recently to this system was mainly for utilising a more efficient and sustainable automated recycling method to reduce the firm’s carbon footprint, rather than flat-packing cardboard and placing it into open-top skips.

The Shirebrook facility now contains nine HSM Automated Balers for cardboard and five V-Press models for plastic waste, with the latter recycling up to 40 tonnes each month and around 480 tonnes annually. A total of 2,200 bales are produced on a monthly basis across all baler machines within the warehouse.

The popular entry-level ‘Mill Size’ Model VK 4812 Automated Baler incorporates an in-line feeding conveyor as part of HSM’s design, ensuring existing dock levellers’ full working width was optimised. This resulted in the creation of an exceptionally large charging area to enhance speed of loading, increased capacities and, above all, real labour savings by eliminating a need to tie off bales manually.

Some solutions within Sports Direct were further adapted to accept packaging via mezzanine gravity discharge chutes, permitting two waste streams to be processed simultaneously.

From a logistical perspective, each baler is assigned to different locations within the distribution centre in order to improve productivity and decrease downtime. Similarly, with the carboard and plastic balers, around 150 tonnes of dry mixed recycling is put through the site’s balers each month, before it is sent out to a third party that will then maximise its recyclable potential.

Joyce adds: “The carboard boxes produced here don’t have any rubbish in them such as plastics or staples, so we’ve had no issue selling our products because of their great quality.

“If any complications arises, HSM’s experienced Nationwide Service team will respond promptly. With 2,200 bales produced each month, this has helped to improve productivity and decrease downtime of the baling machines, which are in continuous operation.”

Pav Kaur is marketing manager at baler supplier HSM

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