Gas ‘Mains’


Along with this week ‘s usual array of press, portraiture & feature work, I undertook a really interesting assignment with my old friends at Blue Rubicon. We headed up to Leicester for a shoot at the ‘National Distribution Centre’ for the entire British Gas fleet of 10,000 engineers. An immense warehousing facility in the heart of the country stocking some 33,000 different parts. Any one of those engineers from the south coast of England to the northern most point of Scotland can place an order with the distribution centre & the parts will be with them the following morning.
I had an idea what to expect having shot Heathrow Terminal 5‘s baggage handling systems earlier in the year, but this place just blew me away. the scale of the operation was immense.
The centre splits into three main areas; the ‘picker’s aisles’ where the smaller items are pulled off the shelves & boxed up.
Surrounding these aisles are the mechanised re-stocking shelves that automatically recognise when a particular item is running low & send a replenishing box out of the stacks back into the pickers’ lanes.
This is done through a snaking thoroughfare of lanes that move the boxes to their necessary positions.
It was mesmerising watching these boxes weave their way around the warehouse. It kinda reminded my that board game of my childhood ‘mouse trap’.
It’s all monitored & controlled by Aidy, the ‘eye-in-the-sky’.
The third section is the heavy-duty items aisles at the far-side of the building. This is the part of the warehouse where the sheer size of the operation really resonates.
I managed to get some amazing shots from the top of one of their 10 metre high fork-lifts. It felt like I was in the scene at the end of Indiana Jones…
Once all those different parts are selected & packaged, they’re brought forward to the loading docks ready to be collected & distributed around the country.
They also recycle 90% of their waste products at the centre.
Because of the sheer volume of turnover, even this is an immense operation…
For this weeks’ accompanying “Image Of The Week”, click the link below.
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