The UK arm of Air Menzies International (AMI) – the world’s largest trade-only airfreight and express wholesaler – is relocating its London Heathrow hub facility to new, larger premises at Polar Park, on the main Bath Road on the airport’s north side.
AMI’s cargo division will be the first to occupy the building, in late January. The new base is conveniently located for AMI’s local customers, and for those from further afield using the M4, M25 and A4.
The new terminal will also be the new home for AMI’s Express division, which will move into the building in March 2012. This will bring the AMI family back together under one roof for the first time since 2008, when growth forced the express operation to move to temporary overspill premises in nearby Colnbrook.
With 46,253 sq ft (4,297 sq m.) of warehousing and 9031 sq ft (839 sq m) of offices, the new AMI base is over 50% larger than the previous facility which had been its Heathrow home since the early 80’s. The new building has greatly improved vehicle access via a one-way traffic system, and has been modified to offer five cargo doors plus a dedicated express door.
The AMI Heathrow terminal will be located in a secure compound, and access to sensitive areas will be via biometric turnstiles and airlocks. The new base provides a much larger yard, enabling easy truck parking and manoeuvring. It also features a large combined cargo and Express reception offering hot drinks, snack machines and toilet facilities for visiting drivers.
The most significant change with the new facility will be the introduction of an automated warehouse handling system (Hermes) which has just completed a successful trial period at AMI’s current facility. The system is a variant of the Hermes handling management system developed around twelve years ago by AMI parent Menzies Aviation, and which is used throughout its cargo handling operations around the world. The new IT system will handle all aspects of AMI’s warehouse operations, assisting storage and retrieval of cargo. In turn, this will lead to more efficient use of the warehouse space and faster processing of freight, and will also drive a new truck queuing and door allocation system.
Says AMI Regional Director Europe, Sharon Wright: “The new base is all about providing greater efficiency for our customers, particularly focusing on reducing queue times to an absolute minimum. We know this is a real issue around the airport, so AMI will be working very hard to mimimise waiting times for customers’ vehicles.
“When the new AMI terminal goes live, the many customers who use both AMI and its Express arm will be able to drop all their shipments at one location, instead of queuing repeatedly at several different airline terminals. With our adoption of Hermes, processing vehicles will become even faster; this will be a major benefit for all our customers, and a particular bonus for those travelling greater distances. Now, they will be able to turn their trucks round and return to base in minimum time. This will save staff and fuel costs, and optimise use of their vehicles.”
Later in 2012, customers will also be able to “walk in” smaller cargo consignments and hand them over the counter, instead of queuing with vehicles making larger drops.