Mail order installation for JD Williams

JD Williams, one of the UK’s leading mail order companies with a turnover in excess of £500 million, were looking to streamline their ‘Goods Out’ operation. Throughput had increased by 15% over the last 4 years, and a more efficient and cost effective vehicle loading system is required.

As one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of vehicle loading equipment, Newland Engineering were delighted to be selected to work with J D Williams on this project. Their brief to Newland was to eliminate all manual handling of goods between their ‘Matflex’ sorting area and Goods Despatch bays through to trailer loading.

Covering 4 Despatch bays the system comprises 4 off Horizontal Belt Conveyors, 4 off Incline Belt Conveyors and 4 off Auto-Loading conveyors, all of which were manufactured by Newland at their premises in Hyde, Cheshire, UK.

As the name implies, the Newland Auto-Loader is specifically designed to load vehicles automatically, using a simple yet intelligent computer sensing system. The front telescopic boom is fitted with sensors to detect the walls, floor and ceiling of the vehicle. Parcel sacks are conveyed down the 4 lines using Newland Horizontal Belt Conveyors. Positioned along each conveyor line are scanning stations where the parcel sacks are scanned prior to transferring onto the 4 off Newland Auto-Loaders.

When in Auto mode, the Newland Telescopic Belt Conveyor will move automatically to a fill pattern, depositing parcel sacks from the floor towards the ceiling above head height, giving a minimum 80% fill of the trailer/vehicle. When the auto-loading sequence of the vehicle is completed, an external signal is sent from the conveyor control panel with the addition of visual flashing coloured beacon (on a light stack) to indicate completion.

The Auto-Loader will then fully retract and lower into its ‘rest position’. Safety features such as sensors fitted to the bay doorways to detect persons entering the vehicle during auto-loading will stop the operation. A red flashing beacon on the light stack indicates that the door sensors have been tripped.


The conveyor system included an overhead walkway with steps down to each conveyor line to gain access to the scanning stations.

A staged installation and commissioning programme was implemented over consecutive weekends for each of the 4 lines so as not to cause any disruption to JD Williams working day.

Using only known quality component parts, and embracing the latest advances in vehicle loading technology, the machines comply with current Health & Safety Legislation and have full CE Certification. They are designed to withstand the rigours of the toughest of warehouse environments.

Mr Ian Greenhalgh, Mechanical Engineering Team Leader, and Paul Robinson, Engineering Manager, both of JD Williams commented, “Having already purchased 3 Auto-Loaders from Newland in 1990 JD Williams confidence in the product/system has been rewarded with enormous benefits resulting in improved speed of output over 100%, elimination of manual handling, improved efficiency, reduced operator costs from 12 to 4 per shift and faster vehicle turn-round. All of this without damage to the product and secure in the knowledge that the machines come with a proven track record in terms of reliability”.


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