Preparation key to building success for food making facilities

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When pie manufacturer Baked Provisions wanted to design a new facility in Western Sydney, it had to make sure that not only was the budget met, but it would have a building that would meet its operational needs and capital constraints. Luckily, Total Construction was able to meet both these requirements.

When building a new facility, a food manufacturer knows that such a capital investment of a bespoke building can be a costly affair. Baked Provisions knew this, so they knew they needed a company that would not only build a quality facility to its specifications, but would do so within its budget.

Total Construction is a company that specialises in building commercial facilities that are designed to give clients the best value for money, and to make sure that the finished product meets the operational needs of a busy, modern enterprise.

Total knows the key to a successful project is to make sure the client involves a builder early on in the process.

Baked Provisions’ management team embraced this strategy and it wasn’t long before the company started helping the Prestons-based bakery conceptualise and design the project from the ground up.

Early Contractor Involvement

“Commonly known in the construction game as Early Contractor Involvement (ECI), having a builder involved during the scoping and design stage can allow critical cost items in any build/ fit out be identified and alternatives discussed,” Total Construction’s national business manager Rob Blythman told Food & Beverage Industry News.

“For instance, you may have a plan to construct a mezzanine level in your operations. Although perfect for the intended process flows, it can be extremely costly to construct.”

Blythman pointed out that sometimes clients cannot see the forest for the trees. They are so entrenched in their business they only see one aspect of the project, such as increasing efficiencies in their production.

“Involving a builder with process engineering capability in the food and beverage industry, such as Total Construction, can allow different eyes to see the requirements and suggest alternatives to the building layout that just don’t reduce the need for costly building works, but can potentially improve the process flow overall,” he said.

How does ECI work to help companies like Baked Provisions meet their budget?

The first step is a site visit, or investigation, which is carried out by the builder. This is similar to scoping a site. Total Construction looked at the existing site and the blueprint of the new facility. This allowed it to see all the services Baked Provisions would need in order to have an efficient operation.

The company also took stock of what utility services were available at the site. The Western Sydney industrial estate where the facility is located was fairly new so it was important to make sufficient services were available (i.e.. gas and electrical capacities). This is something that some businesses forget to do. Not only do you have to make sure the services are available, but increasing power or gas supply to a site can be very costly to the project and create delays.

Another area that needs consideration in the case of an existing building to be fitted out, is the structure integrity. Having to strengthen this to cope with the additional weight of fit out and services can often blow out project costs.

Getting stakeholders together

“A workshop was carried out with all stakeholders to identify required efficiencies, confirm proposed outputs and flag any potential limitations,” said Blythman. “As part of this workshop all production processes were mapped and detailed for both the existing and proposed operations. A comprehensive list including capacities and dimensions of all equipment both existing and new was developed. This helped to identify all utility services required and set the benchmark for power and gas requirements at the proposed site.”

One of the main reasons for being so comprehensive in the planning stage is, again, to save money for the client. It helps identify potential bottle necks in current processes and highlights any hygiene requirements in the new fit out, something that is a key ingredient in the food and beverage industry. Getting all this data captured was critical in maximising efficiencies of the new facility.

Once all these things were scoped, the Total Construction team got to work on the practicalities of the build for Baked Provisions.

“A review of the build-ability of the facility was done and sketch design layouts were completed to optimise process flows to best fit the client’s objectives,” said Blythman.

“A building/fit out SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis was carried out and build/ fit out costs were derived. Through consultation between ourselves and the client this process allowed savings to be identified early on in the overall design and layout of the facility.”

When Blythman talks about a detailed design, this includes all the services and other requirements, which is then put to the market for live market costing. This was so the client could get a firm understanding of what they could get for their dollar. It was at this point that the building of the facility was finalised.

“Here is where working to a budget comes in,” said Blythman. “Once the ideal building and fit out costs are established, it is then possible to derive further reductions in the overall project spend through rationalising the design. This included, but was not limited, to reducing the number and sizes of rooms, freezer/cool room capacities and locations, and finishes in the design.”

He said that this could be done while keeping future expansion capability intact in the design and maintaining the client’s required production output for their new facility.
Total Construction knew that a key to the success of the build was making sure it met Baked Provisions’ needs, as well as giving them the best advice during all stages of the project.

The new facility will make Baked Provisions' range of pies, savoury items and cakes.
The new facility will make Baked Provisions’ range of pies, savoury items and cakes.