Wincanton helped the Aircraft Carrier Alliance optimise a complex supply chain to build its Queen Elizabeth-class carrier. By utilising its specialised warehouse management system, Wincanton achieved 99.94% stock accuracy and an annual saving of £200,000, while achieving the RoSPA Gold accreditation five years in a row due to its prioritisation of safety.

Wincanton was awarded a historic contract to support the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) with the nine-year build of its Queen Elizabeth-class carrier. This groundbreaking project was the UK defence sector’s largest, most complex and highest value single build ever, with £1.2 billion worth of contracts and over 100 suppliers.

Wincanton - responsible for the transportation and storage of parts ranging from 40 tonne propeller shafts to 10mm washers - completed its contract with stock accuracy of 99.94% and build material availability of over 95%. The project generated £200,000 in yearly savings through consolidating supplier deliveries. From 2014 to the project’s end in 2019, the Wincanton team achieved Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Gold accreditation in recognition of its dedication to health and safety, and continuous improvement in this area.

Managing more than 100 suppliers

The ACA required a partner that could effectively coordinate suppliers and manage stock; while providing the agility to react to urgent needs and issues to make sure this vast project stayed on track.

One key challenge the ACA faced was supplier conformity. Prior to Wincanton’s involvement, disjointed processes often delayed required materials from reaching their intended location. This led to downtime and increased costs.

Delivering at the right time and location

As the vessel was a block build, Wincanton’s solution was to work in partnership with the respective shipyards across the UK to transport and control all materials through a central off-site warehouse. This facility utilised the Manhattan WMS.

In order to allow the project to work efficiently, the ACA required a partner that could ensure the required materials and parts were available at the right time in the right location. Wincanton successfully improved supplier conformity from 20%, to in excess of 90%, allowing the project to run more smoothly.

What the customer says

ACA spokesperson, said: 

“Wincanton was an excellent partner that drove significant change throughout the project, which ultimately delivered benefits far in excess of our original expectations.

“The project was the largest of its kind in the UK & brought regular challenges which the Wincanton team overcame at every hurdle. It was a pleasure working with such a professional and customer-focussed organisation.”


items handled


stock accuracy


suppliers+ coordinated with contracts valued over £1.2bn




years of RoSPA Gold accreditation