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A new perspective on coldstores

Rick Bestwick’s managing director Stuart Hancock gives his view on the burgeoning issues affecting both coldstore and supply chain businesses in the UK in an exclusive interview in Cold Chain News magazine.

Stuart Hancock, managing director, Rick Bestwick: “We are looking at further expanding our existing facility in 2018 and 2019.”

Chesterfield, UK: “In November 2016 temperature-controlled food company Rick Bestwick launched the largest up-tempering microwaving facility in Europe. With the ability to ‘up-temper’ food from -18 degrees to -3 degrees in minutes instead of hours, the success of the new facility has ignited a sequence of new technology strategies internally and provided a new perspective on the evolving nature of the coldstore industry as a whole.

The seven months since the installation of the new facility at the Chesterfield site has been a thought-provoking time. After investing in a programme of feedback on a range of different matters, from product testing and quality, to opinions on taste and ingredients, we have received positive customer responses highlighting the benefits of stock wastage reduction and the new-found ability to react better to their own customers. In addition, we have worked with our suppliers and our internal teams to develop new ideas and solutions from a technological point of view which has led to an exciting reshuffle in our overall business strategy.

Automation
Supply chains from raw material to end user are getting shorter. Coupled with this, lead times are also getting shorter and market demands are growing and changing. With a forever fluctuating market, it is becoming more and more important to stay ahead of the game, allowing us to reduce the number of touches (and therefore cost) to the product in a world where costs are forever increasing.

To address this, one of the major areas we are looking to invest in is automation and robotics. Automation has already made a mammoth impact on the UK’s manufacturing and processing industries which continues to drive end-user expectations even further. ‘Just in time’ delivery is fast becoming an expected standard of service and to provide this operations need to be as slick as possible with automation at the heart of them.

Rick Bestwick launched the largest up-tempering microwaving facility in Europe

Energy efficiency
The new facility has been designed with LED lighting throughout and modern and efficient microwaving technology which speeds up our processes dramatically. This has enabled us to steadily improve our energy efficiency.

Since moving from our old facility to where we are now, we have significantly increased our volume capability and efficiency which will only further increase with the introduction of automation.

As with any supply chain operator, we’re constantly challenged by our customers, quite rightly, to improve our environmental performance in line with their own targets. Clearly, having a self-contained, purpose-built facility is more efficient than using multiple locations with high levels of manual labour. Increasing our levels of automation will mean that we can operate more efficiently and therefore on a larger scale with our existing staff levels.

Expansion
Over the next five years we’re likely to see over 100k existing pallet spaces removed from the industry due to old age and changes to gas requirements. In addition to this, there will be new facilities being built in the UK and a lot of businesses are now looking at port-centric solutions as more than 50% of our goods are coming in from mainland Europe and other countries. It will be interesting to see how this changes after Brexit but this offers an opportunity to grow our operation and capacity.

At the moment, we are looking at further expanding our existing facility in 2018 and 2019 and we’re working on adding a repacking area to offer added value to customers looking to combine even more aspects of the supply chain under one roof.

As always, we continue to work in partnership with customers, in a constantly changing supply chain world, to see how we can mutually benefit suppliers, customers and ourselves and improve efficiency.”