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In recent years, consultancy and engineering company Bilfinger Tebodin has noticed that food manufacturers want to bring their products to the market faster and faster with high delivery reliability and consistent quality. “Market demand is forcing a more flexible production process and sometimes expansion of capacity. Companies engage us to give advice in a short time about the construction or expansion options”, says Aart-Jan Smit.
Companies want to know sooner whether they will invest in a renovation or not. “They want to know quickly what the investment costs (CAPEX) and operational costs (OPEX) will be and what the payback time is. Nowadays, a new factory must be able to operate within a year”, says Aart-Jan Smit, food and pharma sales manager at Bilfinger Tebodin.
Bilfinger Tebodin meets the demand for a short advisory process with the so-called pit stop approach. Smit: “During the feasibility study, we use our pit stop method. This approach was developed from the Agile and Lean idea, to put all stakeholders together for a few days. Through focus, without being distracted by the day-to-day work, jointly define scenarios with opportunities and risks, resulting in an integrated tailor-made solution.”
In a new construction project, environmental permits, necessary utilities and process and layout requirements are examined. During the pit stop, answers will be given within a short time to the most important questions regarding capacity, dimensions and building layers in relation to the installations and business activities, the foundation method and the level of automation. Specialists in the fields of construction engineering, process technology, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, HVAC, operation, maintenance and project management are present to discuss the project from the start.” Bilfinger Tebodin also uses this pit stop approach for capacity expansion. Smit: “When increasing capacity, for example, the question arises whether existing production lines can be expanded or whether investments must be made in new machines.”
After the multi-day session, all starting points are established and various concepts are worked out, an action plan with specifications for the rest of the project, including a detailed investment estimate for testing the business case. “This will allow an organization to explore the market and requests quotations”, explains Smit.
“For a few days, we put all stakeholders together”
Aart-Jan Smit, food and pharma sales manager at Bilfinger Tebodin
After financial testing, further engineering can be continued without interruption. “This approach means that the turnaround time of a construction plan can sometimes be reduced by six months, so that a factory can be operational earlier.”
The increasing demand for sustainable design of factories and production lines with high efficiency is another trend that Bilfinger Tebodin has identified. “We include this as standard, for example we always look at waste and wastewater reduction, CO2 reduction, the reuse of residual heat and the use of sustainable energy sources. I believe that we owe it to ourselves to be at the forefront of sustainability and circular production in order to have an impact. Look at the name we have when it comes to baby food. We also want to achieve this in the field of sustainability”, concludes Smit.