Logistics hubs and warehouse design

Last week I sent a package to my brother which is living in Brighton (UK). I did it through a company called TNT, at the moment that I paid the fees I received an email with a code in order to check where is the package in every moment, so some days later I got into the website I typed the code and I saw that:


Image 1: Detail of the traceability of the package that I sent with TNT.

I read ‘Garonor Road Hub’ and ‘Northampton Hub’ and my curiosity lead me to Google it and the results showed me that both of them are logistics hubs where TNT has warehouses in order to distribute the packages around Europe.

Garonor is placed close to Paris and Northampton is located pretty much between Birmingham and London.

Garonor was built around 1970 close to the airport of Charles de Gaulle and two important highways. It was created originally to reduce the number of trucks that used to drive into the city of Paris and little by little increased the number of companies and nowadays there are more than 200 companies and 2500 workers.


Image 2: Detail of Garonor Road Hub (France).

Messaging and delivering companies like TNT use to take the packages from your home / office to the local office and some trucks or vans take the packages from each office to a logistic center or hub. In my case, as I am sending a package from Spain to England, the package goes through several hubs. On this way they can reduce the costs of delivering packages because they transport a lot of packages from one logistic center to another using trucks, planes or boats, trying to reduce the distance from this hub to the last delivering point.

Another way to reduce costs is locating these hubs close to important infrastructures or logistic areas, for instance, Garonor is close to one of the most important airports of Europe and TNT also has a huge hub in the Liege airport (Belgium) called TNT European Express Centre.


Image 3: TNT European Express Centre, Liege airport (Belgium).

According to the last lessons, I wonder these warehouses are designed following the patterns from the cross-dock warehouses because they don’t use these buildings for storing goods, and as faster they deliver the goods (less time in warehouse) better service are offering, so the design of the warehouses are a key point of the success of the company.

As the size of some of these hubs is really big and are cross-dock warehouses, they have to design extremely big delivering and picking zones, due they are constantly receiving goods and sending them. So, maybe the designers has to focus more on how to be able to manage the high number of trucks and delivering and picking operations instead of the way that are going to store the goods into the warehouse.

In the following video (42 secs) you can watch some operations from the TNT European Road Hub in the Netherlands:


Joaquín Sánchez Planelles






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