The Challenge:


DHL are responsible for the management of the Unilever Cannock Distribution Centres near Birmingham.

Within their remit as a 3PL, they are always looking at ways to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. To this end, after a careful operational analysis, they realised there was the chance for a significant saving by introducing an automated gatehouse at the site- both to reduce labour costs through the ability to operate with a secure, unmanned gatehouse, but also to improve speed of truck flow into and out of site, and accuracy of data acquisition.

Why Dematic?

Dematic were a proven supplier to DHL, and had previously successfully supplied various products from the Matflo product suite across the DHL estate; ranging from complete WMS (Warehouse Management) and f-WCS (fulfilment Warehouse Control) solutions through to other components from within the Matflo Hub, specifically Yard Management.

Key differentiators of the Matflo product suite are its breadth of coverage across the complete supply chain and its ability for seamless integration, and consequently the speed and flexibility with which Dematic can deliver solutions from its portfolio.

Selecting the ‘Automated Gatehouse’ component from the Matflo Hub product was an easy and low risk decision. In addition Unilever themselves had been working with Dematic across their supply chain since the early 90’s so also had absolute confidence in the dependability of the Dematic solution.


Cannock is a large site, owned by the manufacturer (Unilever) and run by a 3PL (DHL), so any evolution of solution involves many different stakeholders who all have a different view of ‘what is best’.

In addition, this was the first automated gatehouse deployment into the DHL landscape, hence there was inherent suspicions whether the benefits could be as good projected (in practice they even exceeded the best case scenarios).

Any solution deployed needed to work both for deliveries originating from the four different factories in the UK, but equally well for deliveries from abroad, where drivers, in left hand drive vehicles, who speak a multitude of different languages, but with possibly little or no English, were involved.


The Automated Gatehouse, as its name suggests, automates the entry process into an operational yard. It significantly speeds up driver entry and exit to a yard, thus increasing site throughput and daily receipt and despatch capacities.

It removes the opportunity for human error into the gatehouse process and does away with the headache caused through the potentially frequent churn of gatehouse staff. It offers the luxury of running an unmanned gatehouse.

The solution is fully configurable, and seamlessly sits within the Matflo product suite. It has been engineered, as have all the Matflo products, to have a standardised integration pathway into the varied IT landscapes of our customers.

Specific product features include:

The Result

The deployment of Matflo Automated Gatehouse component has very quickly proven its worth. A year after go live, the ROI calculation has already shown a full return on investment.

Jim Cordingley-Power, DAI, a Dematic company Project Manager: “The deployment at Cannock far exceeded even our best case scenarios. Any solution that offers an ROI of 7 months must be viewed a major success.”

We are specialists in our sectors, with an in-depth knowledge of particular technologies, ensuring that you, our customers get the best solutions for your requirements. We always look to deliver solutions based on standard products, be that driven by Matflo, or other market leading third party offerings..


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