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Distribution centre is one of the largest warehouses in US

19 August, 2022

Digi-Key Electronics, the US-based distributor which claims to offer the world’s largest selection of automation products and electronic components in stock for immediate shipment, has opened an 2.2 million square feet (204,000m2) expansion to its Product Distribution Centre, taking its total area to more than 3 million square feet (278,000m2). The $400m facility – one of the 10 largest warehouses in North America – will allow the company to pick, pack and ship nearly three times its previous daily average of 27,000 packages to customers in more than 180 countries around the world.

The new four-storey facility in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, is almost fully automated. The only task done by hand is the picking of parts. A system of wire-guided carts will cut transport times by more than 10%, as well as being safer.

There are more than 27 miles (43km) of automated conveyors in the new facility, and an average order will travel more than 3,200 feet (975m) inside the building. Two primary conveyor systems provide redundancy in the event of breakdowns and offer opportunities for future growth. Scalability and growth were priorities when designing the new building, and most of the fourth floor is not being used at present.

The expansion project has attracted local and state economic support, including a $40m grant from the state of Minnesota, and is expected to contribute an additional $500m in economic output to the region, as well as adding more than 1,000 new jobs over ten years. The company currently employs 3,600 people in Thief River Falls, and 1,600 more in other locations.

“This is a significant milestone for all Digi-Key employees and our community,” says Digi-Key president, Dave Doherty. “Our new product distribution centre expansion will help us continue to deliver excellence to our customers for many years to come. As exciting as this expansion is for us, our hope is that our customers truly don’t notice a difference – the transition for them should be seamless and, if anything, result in an even better customer service experience than they are already accustomed to.”

Digi-Key’s new distribution centre covers the same area as 22 US football fields

Digi-Key, which ships to customers around the world from its US base, offers more than 13.4 million components from more than 2,300 manufacturers. The opening of the new facility comes at a time of record growth for the company. It 2021 it expanded by 65%, with revenues rising from $2.7bn to $4.6bn. Bookings for 2022 are already up more than 25% on last year and the company expects to make 6.5 million shipments this year. Digi-Key has also added 250 new suppliers this year. Since work began on the expansion in 2018, Digi-Key has added 1,500 suppliers and 1.5 million part numbers to its inventory.

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The distribution centre contains 43km of automated conveyor lines

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