Michelin Opens a Super-Sized Distribution Center

April 29, 2019

Michelin North America Inc. has opened its largest distribution center in the world — in Greenville, S.C. It spans 45 football fields with the capacity to move four million tires a year.

The company began building the gigantic distribution center in November 2016, and as of April 2019, it is fully operational. We boiled down the details into a 'by the numbers' glance.

By the numbers

What is it: Known as the Woodruff U70, the distribution center is Michelin's biggest.

  • It spans five buildings.
  • Each building is as large as nine football fields — that's 45 football fields in all.
  • Total space: more than 3 million square feet.
  • The center will accomodate more than four million tires a year, using Michelin's first automated, robotic system.
  • The automated system includes 16 robots and 29 cranes.
  • The facility will have the capacity to process 200,000 tires a day — 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Shipments will roll on 100-120 trucks per day.
  • Total truck capacity: 550 trucks.
  • Customers served: nearly 3,000.

A look at the automation and energy 

Michelin's systems team installed two key digital tools: the warehouse management system (WM6) and the yard management system (YMS).

The system is Michelin's first fully, genuinely paper-free site. Barcodes, scanners, RFID chips and computers have replaced the paper trail. The company considers it a step in improving its global supply chain.

The project also is in line with Michelin's sustainable goals. Twenty percent of the land is protected wetlands, and the company says it is "working to protect the different plants and animals that populate these wetlands." The buildings are LEED  certification pending; LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the North American standard for high quality environmental buildings created by the US Green Building Council. Another noteworthy elements are the hydrogen-powered forklifts, a reliable, efficient and emission-free  alternative.