Palmerston North creates defence warehouse, clothing 12,000 personnel

Palmerston North’s building its case as our Defence Force capital — along with nearby bases, it now has a new warehouse home to the nation’s military uniforms.

After 31 years in the Air Force, Shar Carson knows all the tips and tricks to putting together a tidy uniform. Now she’s using her experience to help kit out the front lines.

Today, she showed 1News around the new warehouse, storing nearly 300,000 items to support around 12,000 Army, Navy and Air Force personnel.

“Some get eight pairs, some get five. They’re very well catered for, there’s a shoe for every purpose,” quality and compliance manager Carson said.

The new distribution centre is bringing in dozens of extra jobs and mayor Grant Smith said it was a boost for the city.

“It’s pretty huge. Fifty-five jobs but also the multimillion-dollar build and possibly more to come,” Smith said.

Australia Defence Apparel New Zealand chief executive Chris Dixon said “conversations are underway” with emergency services about storing their uniforms at the Palmerston North hub too.

“We won’t be stopping here. We see opportunities in law and healthcare, fire and other first responder sectors in the industry,” Dixon said.

But for former Air Force personnel like Carson, her new job is a chance to continue serving the country.

“The thing is, when you join the military you are in it for life. It’s something about being part of a family and a camaraderie built within that. This job enables me to be connected, and still close to that.”


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Military precision major component of Defence Force’s newly-opened apparel centre

All the kit a New Zealand soldier, sailor or aviator can wear or carry has started passing through Palmerston North’s newest distribution centre.

ADA NZ’s leased warehouse near Milson Airport has been officially opened and is fully operational with room to grow the business.

The 3000 square metre warehouse and offices are the centre for receiving and distributing some 2000 different pieces of uniform and gear for more than 12,000 personnel in the NZ Defence Force.

Chief executive of parent company Australian Defence Apparel, Chris Dixon, said he was delighted with the purpose-built facility, which was more than just a warehouse.
“The site will allow NZDF personnel to receive the highest quality care and service, complemented by high-tech apparel systems to enable them to perform their duties comfortably and efficiently, taking less time away from training and fieldwork.”

The bulk of the centre is made up of the warehouse, with storage racks designed for seismic strength, and pick and pack areas arranged with highest-demand items in the most accessible areas.

There is no paper, and clever layouts enable staff to quickly and efficiently collect 120 items an hour.

The orders include combat clothing and service dress, boots, socks, gloves and badges, packs and bags and everything that goes in them, including water bottles and laundry bags.

Outside the main warehouse, a full canopy enables under-cover drop-offs and pick-ups from 70 trucks a week.

The facility is also home base for ADA NZ’s procurement, contract management, demand planning and quality control staff, and for research and development.

One of the development projects in the final stages of validation is the Bodd 3D scanner, which promises to take all the tape measures and personal preferences out of dressing service men and women.

In charge is development manager for wearable systems Graham Fordy, a scientist with a background in physiology.

The portable scanner equipped with a series of cameras and lenses created a 3D image of the person who stood on the rotating base for about a minute.

From there, it calculated the correct sizing for the complete set of garments from head to toe.

Fordy said it would ensure every person was dressed to the standard uniform fit, nothing looser or tighter, and it would save time.

Using traditional systems, it could take two days to measure up a batch of 120 recruits. With three scanners operating, the work could be done in three hours.

The orders came to the Palmerston North centre for dispatch to Defence clothing stores run by ADA NZ at each base through the wearables supply and managed services contract.

Last week, the first refurbished army clothing store was opened at Trentham, with upgrades planned for the remaining bases.

Chief Joint Defence Services Brigadier Rob Krushka said the facility would provide employment – 25 staff are based there – and other economic opportunities that would bring “a positive impact to the community in which we live and work”.

The facility was close to bases at Ohakea and Linton, and to convenient national transport links to other bases.

Dixon said Palmerston North’s industrial and distribution cluster provided an ideal location for distribution to New Zealand’s defence bases, and the project had been well supported by the city council and Central Economic Development Agency.

There was capacity within the centre to take on uniform supply contracts for other customers in future.

By Janine Rankin –

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Australian Defence Apparel New Zealand opens multi-function logistics hub in Palmerston North

Australian Defence Apparel (ADA) subsidiary ADA New Zealand announced it has opened its multi-function logistics hub in Palmerston North, New Zealand. The 3,000 square metre facility will serve as a hub for design and development, data-driven wearable systems, logistics, and warehousing, catering to the needs of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

ADA New Zealand secured a significant clothing contract in 2022, aiming to provide high-quality apparel services to over 12,000 NZDF personnel. This strategic move to Palmerston North was made possible through a collaborative partnership between ADA, Palmerston North City Council, and The Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA).

ADA CEO Chris Dixon said, “The strategic move to Palmerston North was a collaborative partnership with ADA, Palmerston North City Council, and The Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) to create employment opportunities across the Manawatu region.”

“The grand opening of the new ADA Headquarters and Logistics Hub demonstrates a significant commitment in the partnership with NZDF by ADA NZ. This facility will provide a logistics hub and R&D facility enabling ADA to service the needs of soldiers, sailors, and aviators of the NZDF. The construction and ongoing operation of the facility has, and will, continue to provide an economic impact through employment, supply chain, and services opportunities in the Manawatu region and beyond. The NZDF is proud to see our partnership with ADA NZ bring a positive impact to the community, in which we live and work,” said Brigadier Rob Krushka, Chief Joint Defence Services.

Palmerston North was chosen as the location due to its strategic position as a central logistics hub in the Lower North Island, facilitating efficient national distribution. The city’s forward-looking, large-scale infrastructure program aligns with the goal of delivering supply chain efficiencies and proximity to a substantial portion of the NZDF’s personnel.

ADA NZ Program Director, Sarah Pender, emphasized the facility’s role in enhancing apparel management efficiency, stating, “This facility furthers ADA NZ’s ability to provide greater efficiencies in total apparel management for 12,000+ personnel within the NZDF. We anticipate that in the future, the site will be used as an advanced distribution hub across a multitude of clients.”

Tony A. P. McQuillan, Director – Defence Equipment Management Organisation – Defence Logistics Command New Zealand Defence Force, added, “The completion of the new ADA NZ headquarters and logistics facility in Palmerston North is a fantastic milestone for ADA NZ as the newest NZDF Strategic Partner. It enhances the industrial base of the Manawatu Region and provides state-of-the-art and resilient wearables supply, and design and development capability within the geographic centre of mass of the NZDF.”

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