Video: Centralized Distribution Center in Owensboro, KY

State-of-the-art facility improves shipping and labor costs

UniFirst's centralized distribution center in Owensboro, KY is a state-of-the-art facility which improves shipping and labor costs and increases the service level we can provide our customers.

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It's well known that employee uniform programs help build company brands through a positive business image and brand awareness. Uniforms also reinforce customer service by fostering team spirit and instilling a sense of pride and responsibility with employees. But the effective management of uniform programs requires a company with all the flexibility and capability to roll out simultaneous programs companywide and countrywide.

UniFirst Corporation is just that type of company. With more than 2 million uniform wearers in 300,000 customer locations supported by 260 UniFirst facilities, UniFirst handles the ongoing, year-in and year-out details of all that goes into uniform program management.

And it all starts here at UniFirst's centralized state-of-the-art distribution center in Owensboro, Kentucky. There's more than meets the eye to a truly successful uniform management program, so we invite you behind the scenes to see what it really takes.

When we embarked on this project to build a new distribution center - we had three separate centers that operated independently from one another, that were manually driven for the most part...This is still the norm for much of our industry, but it's just not efficient. We wanted to step away from that mold. So we decided to make one centralized distribution hub to improve shipping and labor costs, and to increase service levels to our customers. It also afforded us the ability to become a major employer and a good corporate citizen in the community.

We toured distribution centers all across North America. We even went to Europe to see the latest in warehousing and distribution systems…In the end, we literally doubled the recommended size of the facility to make sure we had plenty of room for growth. And we were absolutely committed to having and maintaining the latest equipment and technology for warehousing available… After all…we're not just about shipping garments - we want to store more, and ship more, while processing faster and accurately.

That's why we have this massive on-hand reserve inventory. It's UniFirst's answer for ensuring prompt responses to customers' ever-changing requirements.

In our active picking area for all customer orders, our highly automated picking system ensures that the right garments reach the right customer location, locker and individual wearer on a consistent, reliable basis. Every garment is assigned a specific location for efficiency of order fulfillment.

All the processes necessary to complete a customer order throughout its journey here in the distribution center are encoded specific to the order. Garments will take a trip to the direct embroidery area; others to the automated screen printing department, while the rest get matched with company logo and name emblems and head for the sew-and-seal area where 44 processing workstations with nearly 90 heat seal machines affix emblems and ID tags, along eight cut-and-sew stations where garments are tailored to meet individual wearer's needs.

Whether your emblem requirements include simple names or custom designed company logos, fulfilling customer uniform programs quickly will never be a problem at UniFirst.We can accurately recreate the most complicated and most colorful logo designs.

And we don't create emblems for just one customer order at a time – we're planning ahead for years to come. That's why we stock large inventories of personalized customer emblems to easily access for new employees or replacement garments.

The thousands of personalized garments and emblems produced every day make their way across this 7.5-acre facility via UniFirst's proprietary mile-long UniSort conveyor and a state-of-the-art Crisplant tilt-tray sorter system. It's high-speed, high-capacity sorting and delivery capabilities helps ensure the capacity and accuracy needed to fulfill customer orders regardless of timelines or volume.

Our system knows which packing chute to deliver an order to, it also knows the capacity of each chute so it can alert the packers when a chute is full and ready to be packed. Then they're off to shipping. Our set number of delivery chutes become an infinite number to handle heavy-volume orders and times of day. Just another reason why we are able to ship faster than our competitors.

Since the system knows the weight of every garment in UniFirst's inventory, it also knows how much every package should weigh and diverts it if it's outside our accepted rate of tolerance.

The outgoing conveyor system also reads the package identification, telling it which shipping trailer it should be delivered to.

But our customer focus doesn't end there. Our customer service center is also located in the distribution center, where they provide support to hundreds of UniFirst locations, as well as our national account and catalog customers, keeping them informed at all times on the status of customer orders.

We're excited about our ongoing and future investments in technology. We intend to be around for a long time offering the best products and services to our customers.

So, this is what UniFirst is all about – quick and accurate delivery; bottom-line value; and unparalleled service and customer satisfaction. All designed to empower you and your employees to project the best business image possible.

For a free service evaluation, call 800.455.7654 or visit

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