The original Comas pie line – installed 20 years ago by bakery and food production equipment specialist European Process Plant Ltd (EPP) – still operates Monday to Friday and can manufacture 370,000 Scotch pies per week. However, the machine is now being retired and replaced with an updated model, again through EPP and Comas, to ensure continued performance.
Managing director Ronnie Miles, said: “The original machine has served us fantastically well – it has been hugely efficient, very robust and very reliable. It has worked incredibly hard in its lifetime, and the only reason we are changing it is purely because it has reached an end of life cycle, and it has done its job for us.
“It is a big investment for us, but it was an easy decision for us to make. COVID-19 has given us the opportunity for a build window, so the machine is being built now, but we won’t commission and install until April. We hope that this machine will last us another 20 years. It’s a fantastic machine and we are big fans of Comas.”
Bells currently operates four Comas machines, with Comas One the model due for replacement. The new line incorporates some subtle changes that Bells hoped would deliver small improvements for the business.
“It’s primarily a direct replacement, but with a few tweaks, such as being easier to clean and maintain, with a slightly smaller footprint,” Miles added. “We’re really excited about it – our ethos at Bells is to invest in the business, invest in the people and also give our shareholders a return.
‘Quality standards at volume’
“We’re continually investing in new technology and innovation, and this is one of the biggest projects of ours over the past few years. We have managed to take these traditional values and recipes, and design equipment to manufacture to the same quality standards but at volume.”
Established in 1931 in Shotts, Lanarkshire, Bells has 200 staff working in its two bakeries and one distribution depot. The traditional wholesale baker produces 35m pies a year, primarily for supermarket clients.
Meanwhile, Mackie's Crisps has invested £750,000 in a new facility in Errol, Perthshire, dedicated to the production of its Wholesums vegetable chip snacks.