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Distribution centre vital part of keeping Fords on road in UK

PUBLISHED: 12:52 25 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:52 25 September 2018

Fords Parts Distribution Centre supplies dealerships throughout the UK and Ireland. Picture: Andy Russell

Fords Parts Distribution Centre supplies dealerships throughout the UK and Ireland. Picture: Andy Russell

Andy Russell

Motoring editor Andy Russell visits a mind-bogglingly vast warehouse, which could house 20 football pitches, which is a logistical labyrinth stocking parts for keeping Fords on the road for the whole of the UK and Ireland.

One of the many aisles holding up to 105,000 different parts at the Ford Parts Distribution Centre. Picture: Andy Russell
One of the many aisles holding up to 105,000 different parts at the Ford Parts Distribution Centre. Picture: Andy Russell

It could house 20 full-size football pitches under one roof – enough to host all the Premiership and Championship matches most Saturdays – is 700m long and a two-kilometre walk round the outside and has been keeping Ford drivers on the road for half a century.

Opened in 1968, and extended in 1972 and 2000, Ford’s Parts Distribution Centre at Daventry, in Northamptonshire, holds the most comprehensive stock of Ford parts in the UK and is now also home to Ford’s customer call centre and the Henry Ford Academy which trains technicians, sales staff and management throughout Ford’s national dealer network.

One of seven centres throughout Europe and as far away as Moscow, the Daventry base mainly serves 250 parts dealerships in the UK and Ireland, supplying 20pc of the total 101,000 orders a day. It also takes some part referrals from the Cologne and Valencia centres.

It stocks parts for Ford vehicles up to 10 years old, 75pc of them service and wear and tear items, and further back if there is the demand. Orders received by 6pm can be shipped overnight to Ford main dealer parts centres by the following morning and then distributed to smaller garages from there. All the boxed parts are transported in wheeled cages that can be unloaded into secure compounds by the lorry driver who also brings back the empty ones.

Smaller parts are stored in the bins zone all identified by barcodes. Picture: Andy RussellSmaller parts are stored in the bins zone all identified by barcodes. Picture: Andy Russell

With the launch of new models, the number of parts needing to be stocks is growing – the new Focus creates another 5,000 – so the Daventry centre will be holding 105,000 different part numbers to meet 98pc of customer demand. Altogether there are some 300,000 parts available.

It’s a huge operation in logistics with 30 trailers restocking it with 2,200 parts every weekday, all stored by size in specific areas of the centre for easy access with small parts accounting for 50pc of stock and housed in the ‘bins zone’

Daventry works a two-shift system Monday to Friday – 6am to 2pm and 2pm to 10pm – with 300 Ford employees and a further 150 third-party specialist staff including cleaners and those who put parts from outside suppliers into Ford packaging.

But the centre is not just about supplying new parts – crash-damaged bumpers and plastic parts are returned there to be taken away for recycling.

Ford Parts Distribution Centre is 700m long - this picture is looking back from the middle of the building. Picture: Andy RussellFord Parts Distribution Centre is 700m long - this picture is looking back from the middle of the building. Picture: Andy Russell

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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