Total Tips – design and building advice for food & beverage makers

Welcome to Total Tips, our new regular column by plant building and design provider, Total Construction. Over the coming months, we will hear from this industry leader about how to ensure businesses have well designed, well-functioning manufacturing facilities that give them the best chance to prosper.


Selecting new premises is a big step for any food manufacturer. Think about the last time you moved house and (depending on the size of your business) multiply the effort involved several times over.

If the physical logistics involved in uprooting plant, machinery, furniture, IT equipment (plus employees) is enormous; the amount of planning involved can be even more daunting.

Price is the obvious consideration. There is no point in relocating to a facility your business can’t afford. Digging a financial hole that you have no chance of getting out of is never a good move.

Also, as in the residential market, “Location, Location” is a good philosophy to follow. Food and beverage manufacturers need to locate their plants in the right place. The right place, that is, in terms of transport (be it by road, rail or air); as well as easy access to supply chains and logistics. And, of course, they need to be easily accessible by the people who actually keep the business going, employees.

The importance of utilities
However, when choosing new premises, there is one important consideration businesses often overlook. It is important to find somewhere that includes a sufficient, reliable supply of basic utilities (electricity, gas, water), not just for today but for the future.

Far too often, Total Construction sees examples of businesses who neglect to include this in their relocation check list. Then, sure enough, when they move they find they don’t have the utilities they need to run their operations. After the move is made is too late to realise you need more power or gas.

Increasing energy supply is not always an easy thing to do. The task of upping the power supply may involve the creation of a new substation. Even in industrial areas, this does not happen overnight. We have seen cases where the installation takes as long as eight months. On top of the high costs and planning involved, this is bad news for any business.

Planning & estimating future utility needs
When planning a move, businesses should study past gas and electricity bills to establish average usage. However, we recommend adding a further 20 per cent to this figure to allow for future growth. Any figure beyond that mark will likely be years down the track and can be addressed at that later date.

In our experience, many businesses who don’t factor in their energy requirements actually find that their “dream facilities” don’t have sufficient utilities to support them into the future.

In many cases, this comes down to who were the previous tenants. It’s important to keep in mind that, even though they are located in industrial areas, many buildings have never housed manufacturing businesses. Many were used as warehouses and therefore didn’t require anything like the amount of electricity or gas that manufacturers need.

While they may tick all the boxes in terms of price, location and size, they may not actually have what it takes to get your business running today, let alone grow into the future.

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