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Food Manufacturing Facility Reaching Full Capacity

A phased approach to expanding the manufacturing facility to double the capacity without interrupting the on-going production

Factory expansion – a choice between expansion or a greenfield site

The business was originally potato and onion supplier formed by two brothers. It later developed into a food manufacturing business and the two founders were ambitious to expand their manufacturing facility that is based in Co. Dublin in Ireland. The business produced fresh ready-made meals, typically pasta meals soup, lasagna, shepherd’s pie and unbranded ready meals. The current facility was a small factory providing 120,000 units. It had reached the total capacity of the facility after an extension of the factory around 3-4 years ago.

At the time, everything in the factory was handmade and manual, and the process flow was not designed for the facilities. As a result, there was a lot of criss-crossing over the production floor. The mechanical and electrical side included heavy steam boiler process plants and large utility systems serving the plants. Planning an expansion to 250,000 units would involve doubling the capacity of the manufacturing facility. The cost to build for the expansion was a concern for the business. While a 6,000m2 facility on a greenfield site would enable the business to produce 450,000 units a week. An initial feasibility study costed this new development at €12 million which was refused planning permission.

Re-working the plan to expand the existing facility

Malone Group was engaged by the customer to re-look at the extension project, its feasibility and delivery options, and provide M&E (Mechanical and Electrical) support for project delivery. After analysing the project and what the customer wanted to achieve, we proposed a phased approach at the extension options over five phases and wind the scope back to doubling the capacity. The first phase of the project included installation of a blast chiller facility to get food from 90 degrees to 40 degrees in 90 minutes. This was currently achieved through an external unit under hire. The aim was for the business to have the capacity to do by themselves as it was a vital part of the process.

During the project delivery stage, the key priority was to remain operational in an environment where fresh ready-made meals were being produced and could not be allowed to stockpile. This also required us to ensure that the high standards of health and safety were maintained while the expansion project was being delivered. Phase two involved an extension of the processing areas. Phase three was focused on the installation of a new office area upstairs in the mezzanine. Phase four involved internal alterations to the cooking facility area. The fifth and final phase involved the old entrance wash area expansion and maintenance room being made larger, to complete the expansion project.

Successful delivery of the expansion project within 12 months to double the capacity

The revised phased approach to doubling the capacity of the manufacturing facility was completed in a 12 months programme at a cost of €3m. This was delivered without disrupting the production operations or risking health and safety standards.