Michelin inaugurates 3 million square foot distribution centre

A giant new warehouse complex built by Michelin in the USA is now operational and capable of supplying tyres to up to three thousand regional customers. The Michelin Woodruff U70 distribution centre is, at 3 million square feet, the Michelin Group’s largest distribution centre.

According to Michelin North America, the main strategic goal of setting up such an infrastructure was to “guarantee better product availability by consolidating our stocks in one site.” It identified the southeast of the United States as the ideal location for the facility, specifically Greenville, South Carolina. Construction began in November 2016. Michelin comments that raising the five buildings from the ground was a “herculean task”, as each is the equivalent of nine football fields.

Woodruff U70 is capable of accommodating more than 4 million tyres, and uses an automated system to dispatch these to customers in North America. Installation of the automated system was completed in 2018 and today has 16 operational robots and 29 cranes. Thanks to this automated system, a first in Michelin’s supply chain network, the site will be capable of processing over 200,000 tyres a day, 24/7, with turnarounds of 100 to 120 trucks per day. This represents a capacity of up to 550 trucks serving nearly 3 million customers.

Michelin’s Systems team has implemented two important digital elements in the architecture: the warehouse management system (WM6) and the stock management system (YMS). Furthermore, in line with Michelin sustainability commitments, barcodes, scanners RFID chips and computers have replaced all paper. U70 is the group’s first genuinely paper-free site.

“U70 is today an illustration of Michelin’s expertise in distribution and an important stage in improving Michelin’s entire supply chain for all of our sites,” comments Michelin.

Around 20 per cent of the 190-hectare Woodruff U70 site land is covered by wetlands, and Michelin says it is “working to protect the different plants and animals that populate these wetlands.” It comments that “environmental preservation is key to the U70 project,” an emphasis in line with its pledge to “be a leader in sustainable mobility.”

The buildings are certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the North American standard for high quality environmental buildings created by the US Green Building Council. Another other noteworthy element on the site is the emission-free, hydrogen-powered forklifts that Michelin operates in place of standard forklifts.

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