A Midlands manufacturer of design and technology equipment has won a manufacture, supply and installation contract with the world’s biggest dairy.
Known as a major producer of engineering equipment for the educational sector, selling across the UK and abroad, it is a particular coup for HME Technology because the work for milk giant Arla Foods is its first significant contract from industry.
Now it is hoping it can capitalise on this success by securing similar work.
Founded in 1984, HME Technology, of Saxon Park, Bromsgrove, supplies products including forges, brazing hearths, furnaces, welding tables, fume extraction systems, kilns, woodworking equipment, wood dust extraction systems, metal finishing and CNC machines.
The Arla Foods contract involved fitting out a complete workshop for the cooperative’s new £150 million state-of-the-art Aylesbury dairy in Buckinghamshire, the world's largest fresh milk facility.
HME Technology was chosen partly on price but in particular on its equipment’s high health and safety compliance.
And, as a technology business – it manufactures some items and buys in others – the company is thrilled to be associated with a project which is also at the cutting edge, claiming the most technologically advanced and efficient processing system, and an ambition to be zero carbon at full capacity.
Julian Davis, HME Technology’s managing director, said: “To supply into such a prestige development is brilliant for our future and demonstrates the safety and rigour of our proven machines. As a facility the dairy is second to none and incredibly technologically advanced.
“We can now go to industry and say – we have a track record of working with the best and we can also meet your needs.
“We are very proud of what we do with schools, that is our core business, but this can be the breakthrough we have been looking for into a completely new area.”
The initial inquiry came in via HME Technology’s web site and it went from there.
Mr Davis said: “We received the list of equipment required, checked out the site, quoted for the work and subsequently a price was agreed based on our one-stop-shop ability, ISO and health and safety documentation.
“Arla’s health and safety team came to visit our headquarters to vet and inspect the machinery as safe, to current regulations, and acceptable for their workshop.
“Ultimately, the machines were delivered, installed and commissioned. Arla carried out a final inspection and the workshop was approved ready for use.”
HME Technology experts went back on site to carry out familiarisation of machines to Arla staff. And the job was complete.
Another vital link is the commitment Arla Foods and the dairy in particular is giving to the ‘Trailblazers’ initiative – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/future-of-apprenticeships-in-england-guidance-for-trailblazers – in which Arla Foods are a major promoter of apprenticeships and to which HME Technology have close industrial links with the promotion of D&T at secondary school levels, the aim being that those pupils who chose a practical approach to engineering and STEM subjects will be motivated by ‘Trailblazers’ and in Buckinghamshire Arla Foods in particular.
The order, worth a significant five-figure sum, included a bandsaw, drill, bandfacer sander, grinder, lathe and press.
All kinds of repairs will be carried out at the workshop, covering breakdowns and planned preventative maintenance.
The new dairy – on a 115-acre site adjacent to the A41 on the outskirts of Aylesbury – has a capacity to process one billion litres of fresh milk annually, sourced from 900 British dairy farm suppliers, the majority of whom are owners of Arla.
Peter Lauritzen, chief executive, said: "Our Aylesbury dairy is the largest single investment for the cooperative and, as market leader, Arla is setting the future standard for the dairy industry."
Lee Timberlake, engineering technician, praised HME Technology’s flexibility and emphasis on health and safety. “They offered the best suite of machines to suit our purpose. Installation went very smoothly – it was a job well done.”
Officially opened by Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, Owen Paterson, the facility has created 700 new jobs, representing a £20 million annual wages bill, plus 1,000 construction jobs during the course of the build.
The dairy is part of Arla’s growth strategy, providing milk to retailers, including fast food restaurants and the major supermarkets, across the South East. There are ambitions for it to be one of the most environmentally advanced in the world with zero waste to landfill and renewable energy solutions.
It has a cold store one and a half times the size of the Wembley stadium pitch where automated guided vehicles move trolleys about akin to something out of Dr Who.
Lean manufacturing and just in time processes are integral.
Arla Foods is a leader in the butter, spreads and margarine sector, a major supplier of other added value products including flavoured milk and cheese, and home to some of the UK’s leading dairy brands including Cravendale, Lurpak and Anchor.
It is the world’s sixth largest dairy company and largest supplier of organic dairy products. It employs more than 18,000 people, is owned by 12,600 dairy farmers of whom about 2,800 are British, and has production facilities in 11 countries and sales offices in a further 30.