Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nike Warehouse in Frayser

From today's Commercial Appeal...

Nike's $135 million distribution center saves energy as it ships shoes
By Wayne Risher

Nike's $135 million investment in a new distribution center in Frayser-Raleigh drew rave reviews from Memphis warehouse and distribution industry insiders.

"Fascinating," said Kara Peyton, president of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' Memphis unit.

"Way above average," said Robert Milner, a sales consultant with ADC Integrated Systems, a warehouse technology company.

It's huge, at 1.1 million square feet, the equivalent of more than 20 football fields.

It's Earth-friendly, from skylights and energy-efficient conveyor motors to a major commitment to recycling to shredded blue jeans used to insulate office and cafeteria walls.

It's all about the Nike Swoosh, holding 6.7 million pairs of athletic shoes in 69,000 distinct variations of size, color and style.

Nike built the footwear distribution center at 3100 New Frayser Boulevard to consolidate operations from 8400 Winchester in Hickory Hill and Wilsonville, Ore. The Winchester site became a national return center, and a Shelby Drive facility distributes Nike apparel and athletic equipment.

The supply chain council organized an early morning tour at Nike Tuesday as an alternative to the group's typical after-working-hours events. Peyton was happy with the outcome, because about 40 members got to see the inner workings of the warehouse live and up close.

They saw a cavernous building filled with conveyor belts, chutes, sorting equipment and storage shelves stacked high with boxes, cases and pallets of shoes. Workers combined bar-code scanners, radio frequency identification tag technology and voice-based warehouse management systems to scan, sort, store and ship boxes of shoes.

"This is very high technology," said Milner.

Nike employs about 450 full-time at the center and uses another 100 to 300 temporaries based on the daily workload.

The building is the largest in the country to achieve a silver level certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Among its green features: stormwater capture for irrigation, motion detector that turns out lights when a space isn't in use and internal reuse of corrugated paper. In the cafeteria, disposable cutlery is made out of potato peels.

Employees have 24-7 access to a well-equipped fitness center, and in the courtyard outside the cafeteria are two basketball courts and a sand volleyball court.

"What you are going to see today represents a $135 million investment not only in the community, but in the Nike supply chain network," general manager Stephen Smith told council members.

Director of operations Marcus Buford said volume has grown from about 100,000 a day to as high as 240,000 a day since the center processed its first shipments last fall.

"This ramp-up here has been nothing short of amazing," Buford said. "There's not a contingency plan. We are Nike footwear for the United States."

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