Treatt group chief executive officer Daemmon Reeve described the initiative as a ‘once in a generation relocation for the UK business’, although it was remaining within the Bury St Edmunds area, where it has operated since 1971. “Our facility there has served us well, but we’re outgrowing our facility,” he said.
The factory would catapult the business forward decades, said Reeve. “Currently we have got quite a manual process, which is obviously quite inefficient. “We suspect that two to three years after the relocation, once we’re fully operational and optimised that our profit will be 10%-15% higher than otherwise it would have been had we not relocated.
"There’s going to be numerous operational efficiencies coming from the site relocation anyway because we’re going from six individual buildings to one purpose-built facility all under one roof. That itself, without all the operational and manufacturing enhancements that we’re bringing in thanks to Siemens will be a significant step forward for us in terms of ROI [return on investment].”
Standardised flavour profiles
The factory would boost production efficiency in several ways, said Reeve, not least of which was by enabling live data capture and analysis.
“A typical piece of business for us is supplying citrus ingredients to leading global beverage manufacturers.” The flavour profiles of the raw materials for these differed depending on seasonal conditions, he explained. “But its our job at Treatt to make sure we can standardise our output from those variable inputs in order that the beverage manufacturer has consistency in their beverage ... The data we’ll be getting from our system will enable us to improve the process.”
The project cost the business £36m net, partly financed via an equity fundraising effort and partly via general cash flow and trading operations, Reeve added.
Skills and training
The site would evolve as the business continued to grow, requiring personnel with updated capabilities. "We have designed our facility in such a way that we can expand it in a modular fashion, so if we need more manufacturing we can extend; if we need more laboratory facilities we can easily extend. There's going to be lots of training that goes on as we upskill our workforce and the data side of things is going to become more digital.
"There will be more analysis of outputs from our digital platform and that will require some new skill sets in the business - skill sets we feel we can evolve from within our existing team."
Listen to this exclusive podcast to hear more details about the automation and digital facilities the factory includes, the process of construction and fit out and some of the main benefits it will deliver.