Executing a planned preventative maintenance programme for increased the system reliability

Pets at Home

The Operation

Pets at Home is the UK’s leading pet care business with over 450 stores and a growing ecommerce channel. In 2019 the company introduced an automated zone-picking operation at its Northampton DC, where miles of powered conveyor and a series of carton elevators smoothly transfer order-cartons over three floors of a mezzanine system.

Auto-carton erection and sealing machines work in unison with pickers in a 24/7 operation to complete some 15,000 parcels a day, comprising orders across a diverse 10,000 sku product range, from 25kg bags of pet food to a plethora of accessories, right down to a collar for a kitten. In addition, a further 8-9,000 daily orders for prescription medications are processed within a dedicated order assembly area.

The Challenge

  • Rapid Increase in orders
  • Reducing downtime
  • Meeting Customer demands

When lockdown triggered a huge surge in ecommerce orders, Pets at Home recognised the importance of upgrading the maintenance and support of its automated warehouse systems by outsourcing to Invar Integration. Maintaining uptime was critical to ensuring customers received their orders on time.


  • 24/7 maintenance programme
  • Preventative maintenance programme
  • Spare parts management

In the spring of 2020 Invar was engaged to provide a professional team of four on-site engineers with a remit to manage a 24/7, 364 day a year service, offering a planned preventative maintenance programme, immediate failure resolution, spare parts inventory management and further back-up support – tapping into the full technical capabilities and resources of the Invar Group. As online sales boomed, it wasn’t long before Invar Integration expanded the team to five by bringing on board a full-time onsite manager to co-ordinate resources.

A strict set of SLAs was put in place to track performance month by month: Overall availability of the system has a KPI target of 96%, scanner read rates 98%, recommended spares held vs recorded spares 98%, planned maintenance vs completed maintenance 97% and engineering shifts completed and fulfilled 99.8%.

A full preventative maintenance schedule in place spanning 52 weeks of the year, involving in-depth checks across the system, identifying and replacing components close to failure, such as drive motors, rollers or worn drive bands. And this extends right across the entire system, including the carton erectors and packing machines.

The provision of spare parts is critical – Invar Integration plan what parts to hold in stock and manage the inventory. Invar Integration’s IT systems are used to manage parts holding, directly linking into the planned preventative maintenance schedule.


  • Robust and Reliable System
  • Less downtime
  • More efficient operations

Simon Phillips, General Manager, Pets at Home:

“Invar has been really great at helping us determine what the planned preventative schedule needs to look like under this increased pressure, what spare parts we need to hold, and when we need to take the equipment down to provide a window of opportunity for planned maintenance – this has probably been the biggest learning curve for us, and has allowed us to significantly increase the reliability of the system.

“During the retail Christmas peak we see a good 30-50% uplift in volume and I’m happy to say that the modelled and planned maintenance and support structure put in place by Invar copes well.

“The last 12 months has seen a really big shake-down of what we would describe as a new system, so there have been some challenges to overcome. However, we have been able to utilise Invar’s industry expertise and network to resolve these pretty quickly. For instance, we had a failure on a carousel that lifts cartons up from the ground floor to the mezzanine floors, but Invar had it back up and running within a matter of hours.”


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