Diageo extends its drinks production in Fife

A new bottling plant under construction in Leven will extend the operational facilities of one of the world’s largest drinks producers.

Scottish based company Diageo is one of the world’s largest drinks producers, with offices in over 80 countries worldwide. Its brands include Johnnie Walker, Baileys, Captain Morgan and Guinness.

Funded by Diageo, Project Prairie will see the company relocate its facility to the town of Leven in Fife. This follows the high-profile closure of its former bottling plant in Kilmarnock. Work commenced on the project in April 2010, with the first bottling line installed and made operational in June 2011.

The brand new plant will house seven bottling lines and includes the relocation of a new filling operation and an on-site disgourging unit which empties casks of whiskey. New bulk storage tank farms and a tank loading bay are also being installed, along with associated infrastructure.

The main facility has been constructed purely for bottling and is a single storey building which measures 203m x 64m.The south elevation comprises two storeys with offices and a welfare facility, whilst on the north elevation of the building, there is a two-storey ancillary area that has been designed to house the spirit processing facilities.

The building is a steel frame construction with a standing seam roof. The exterior finish of the building is composite self-spanning insulated cladding wall panels with brick work and glazing.

A number of green processes have been implemented during the project. These include lime stabilisation to retain the existing materials on site, grey water harvesting for toilet facilities and wind catchers for ventilation in the welfare facilities.

Ground Developments Ltd (GDL) is also working on the project to introduce a cut and fill ground stabilising operation. As a specialist in enabling works that use traditional soil stabilisation and solidification processes, GDL’s process minimises the need for external materials, resulting in an ecologically friendly and cost effective process.

As part of the project, a new site entrance that incorporates a roundabout was created. Temporary traffic lights were also installed and managed in order to keep disruptions to a minimum.  In addition, a new gatehouse and car park were created.

In November 2011 groundwork commenced and new trees were planted around the parameter of the site, with additional trees then being planted internally.  This phase of the operation suffered a few delays due to temperamental weather conditions towards the end of 2011.

Blyth and Blyth Ltd was the lead consultant for the construction work and the development was designed by architects Jacobsen French. Although Rok Plc was the original contractor for the project, international construction services company ISG took over when the company went into administration in 2010.

Blyth and Blyth Ltd Managing Director, Mike Horner, said:

“The administration of Rok halfway through the construction process was an early set back. Fortunately with ISG’s help we managed to get the site back up and running within five and six weeks, which was a fantastic achievement.

“We held a meeting with ISG and made alterations to the work sequence to rearrange any work that didn’t affect production in order to ensure that the project continued without any further delays.

“It was all about prioritising what was needed for production so that everything could go live according to the original dates.”

Unfortunately this wasn’t the only incident encountered during the project.  In August 2011 there was an on-site fatality with the death of a construction worker.

Mike Horner added: “We have a good working relationship with Diageo and have worked with the company for the past fifteen to twenty years. It is always good to work in partnership with Diageo and the other team members in order to deliver another successful project.”

All of the building and infrastructure on the project is now complete, along with the installation of all processing equipment. Three bottling lines are currently in place, with the remaining lines being moved from the Kilmarnock site in early 2012.

The plant is scheduled to be fully operational in March 2012.


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