Inspired Pet Nutrition is investing around £1.5 million in new equipment at its Dalton Mill site near Thirsk in North Yorkshire to meet increased demand for its range of pet food.
In late November the factory achieved a record weekly despatch figure of 5,300 pallets.
IPN’s Harringtons brand continues to be a top performer, growing 38% YoY with nearly 5m additional unit sales as awareness and availability increases.
As part of the investment, additional robotic equipment is being installed on the site’s four production lines to help meet demand – particularly from own label customers – for two different flavours to be combined on a single pallet.
The four new lines will handle both 10 kilo and 3 kilo bags and the increased automation will boost production capacity by some 100% for the 3 kilo size and by some 50% for the 10 kilo bags.
David Wilson, operations manager at IPN, explained: “Previously, to meet customer demand for two flavours on one pallet, each flavour had to be manufactured separately on single pallets and wrapped.
"The pallets were then moved to another part of the factory where they had to be manually unloaded and re-stacked to combine the two flavours. "
The new robotic equipment – which is linked to a £500,000 multi-directional conveyor – now does this automatically as part of a single process. It can complete 21 pallet loads in an hour and is fully integrated with the factory’s central conveying system.
Completed pallet loads are then transported to the firm’s nearby £7 million distribution centre.
The system can handle supermarket ready 600mm x 800mm pallets - which retailers often use to display goods in-store – as well as the traditional 1200mm x 1000mm size.
The investment will also enable the company to save up to £190,000 pa in labour costs linked to the previous double handling, while the more efficient use of production equipment will create nearly 50 hours of additional production capacity a week.
The firm is also looking to invest a further £500,000 in another gas-powered generator, with the opportunity in subsequent years to utilise waste heat from the equipment.
The new plant will significantly reduce the firm’s reliance on the Grid and reduce electricity costs as output can be more closely linked to consumption, in addition to bringing associated environmental benefits.
Pictured, from left to right: George Page (Production Director) and David Wilson (Operations Manager) in IPN’s Dalton Mill site which is benefiting from a £1.5 million investment to help meet increased demand for its products.