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Dairy Company Invests £8 Million on New Logistics Centre

08 Oct 2015

Based in Northern Ireland, Lakeland Dairies has recently capped many years of growth with an £8 million investment in a new logistics centre. Described by Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell as being “among the most technically advanced global export facilities in Europe”, the centre will dramatically streamline the company’s operations, making it more efficient, productive and cost-effective.

Logistics Centre for the Future

Lakeland Dairies, a co-operative, has dedicated operations in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. It produces more than 700 million product units annually. Including UHT milk, coffee creamers and toppings and various ice cream products, the range is exported to 77 countries. As such, it makes a significant contribution to the economy of Northern Ireland and of the wider United Kingdom. The new distribution and logistics centre will give the company complete control over its output and give it an injection of increased credibility with its customers, suppliers and competitors.

The modern and visually impressive new facility is completely automated and has adequate space for an astonishing 14000 wooden pallets. This translates not only into increased efficiency but also into real cost savings: pallets can be handled at one third of the previous cost. The centre will safeguard the business for the challenges ahead. Martin Hanley, Chief Executive Officer of Lakeland Dairies, said “Year on year, over the past 12 years we’ve grown the business 300 per cent and we need extra storage. This new facility gives us credibility with our customers that we are in this for the long haul.”

Highlighting the Role of Distribution and Logistics

As welcome and exciting as this news is for Lakeland Dairies, the new facility more generally underlines the increasing importance of the distribution and logistics sectors. While manufacturing, marketing and sales departments receive well-deserved accolades for their contribution to a business’s growth, distribution and logistics are often overlooked, despite their clear role in powering a company’s activities. Moves are afoot, however, to challenge this perception of the sector. For example, an annual series of games is held in America in which employees of distribution and logistics companies compete with each over a number of warehouse-based competitions. As well as being fun and a welcome morale booster, the games are designed to highlight the difficult, demanding and incredibly important work undertaken by distribution operatives.

The story also demonstrates the importance of pallets. It is fair to say that wooden pallets are probably not the most glamorous or newsworthy of innovations. They have nonetheless been described by economists as “the single most important object in the global economy”. Given that pallets facilitate the safe and efficient transport of goods across the planet, it is hard to disagree. Used wooden pallets are also not only incredibly important parts of the broader economy, but they make an essential contribution to environmental sustainability when repurposed for domestic and industrial use.

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