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The role of automation in contemporary warehouse design

The role of automation in contemporary warehouse design, John Lewis Magna Park case study

We continue the theme for this week with this case study about the John Lewis Partnership.

Based at Magna Park near Milton Keynes, UK, John Lewis’s warehouses have recently expanded and now occupy over 2 million square feet (200,000 square metres). From here John Lewis delivers to its stores and to online customers. The store replenishment is based on a daily sell one replace it process. On-line customers can choose from over 220,000 different product lines excluding white goods (washing machines, refrigerators etc) and brown goods (televisions and furniture).

Magna Park is a campus of state-of-the-art, semi-automated warehouses that service John Lewis’s retail store business and online customers, providing housewares, fashion and electronic goods. Before John Lewis built these warehouses their online deliveries were undertaken by a third-party warehousing and distribution company as an outsourced operation. The returns process, which can amount to nearly 25% of the outgoing deliveries, is also handled by a third-party logistics company thus giving John Lewis added flexibility, especially at peak times.

In this video we hear from John Munnelly, Head of Operations at John Lewis. John is responsible for the design, build and implementation of these warehouses in collaboration with their automated equipment supplier – Knapp. We asked John to comment on the following topics.

  • What is the scale of operations at Magna Park?
  • How does Magna Park fit into the John Lewis Partnership retail operation?
  • What is omnichannel, and how does this relate to Magna Park?
  • How do the operations at Magna Park handle peak demand (size, cause, etc.) and how does the operation flex to accommodate them?
  • What three things has John Lewis learned from the experiences of designing, building and running the Magna Park National Distribution Centre?
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