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 –