Dairy factory project evolves on the job

Dairy factory project evolves on the job
The new factory as a footprint of 3200sqm and includes 350sqm of mezzanine space.

Archer Construction’s lead role in the construction of South Island Dairy’s new factory demanded plenty of innovative thinking as a result of the continually expanding project.
What, in June 2017, was originally planned in a modest dry-store warehouse of 1500 square metres evolved into an entirely new infant formula blending and canning plant connected to parent company Blue River Dairy’s existing factory.
The growth of the building was directly linked to burgeoning demand from China for Blue River Dairy’s infant formula products.
The new factory, completed June this year, has a footprint of 3200sqm and includes 350sqm of mezzanine space, plus a large attached canopy under which trucks can park.
The nature of the products being blended and canned requires compliance to stringent hygiene standards, including red-line access areas which control risks upon entry to processing areas.
It also requires specific levels of temperature, humidity and pressure control to meet strict market access requirements for production.
Through its relationships with other food processing plant operators, Archer Construction has decades of experience in building hygiene critical areas.
Archer Construction project manager Wayne Ramsay says creating this environment involved specification of specialised materials and a purpose-built mechanical ventilation system.
Because of the rapidly increasing volume of infant formula being produced, one of the major changes made by South Island Dairy during the very early stages of construction was to specify robotic systems be installed in the factory’s canning line.
This meant making changes to the concrete pre-cast panels as they were about to be manufactured.
“The pre-cast panels were on their beds about to be poured, but because we had increased the mechanical system volume and we had to lift ceiling heights to get the robots in, we had to make larger openings in the pre-cast panels to allow for bigger ducting.”
From a construction point of view, this required reassessment of the original design specifications and careful planning as the machinery could only be craned in before the roof was installed.
For Archer Construction’s team and their subcontractors, the need to be adaptable and flexible was instrumental to the success of the project.
Despite Archer Construction’s expertise and knowledge of the food processing industry, one aspect of the factory’s fi re and smoke proofing systems initially had its staff stumped.
In order to achieve fire compliance, the doorway between the conjoined buildings needed to be fire-rated to provide smoke protection while still providing open access during normal factory operations.

Dairy factory project evolves on the job
The ability of Archer Construction’s team and its subcontractors to be adaptable and flexible was instrumental to the success of the South Island Dairy factory project.

“We could not [initially] find a product to meet the requirements.”
After exhaustive enquiries and some head-scratching, the answer eventually came from a Google search in the form of a German-manufactured flexible fire curtain which meets New Zealand regulations and which can be kept rolled up over the door.
“If the fire alarm goes off or if the power goes off the fire curtain drops automatically.”
Archer Construction also innovated other aspects of the hygiene areas which were lined, over the concrete precast panels, with 75mm thick fire-rated Bondor Xflam insulated panels to achieve hygiene requirements.
In order to retain flush surfaces on the panels for critical cleaning, holes were bored vertically down much of the panel up to five metres in length, creating a conduit for cabling where it could not be placed on the surface of the precast panels.
The quality of the end result was very much a team effort, Wayne says.
“The fit-out was challenging at times, but we are pleased with the result we achieved with close collaboration with the South Island Dairy team as well as our subcontractors and staff.”
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