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High standard European production requirements, complex ingredients and the need for sustainable energy reduction - These were central elements to the process and GMP design phase of Toms Group new confectionery manufacturing facility in Poland.

Sustainability

Reducing energy use was a key target for Toms.  Consideration was given to various sustainable, energy efficient options on the project:

  • Energy is recovered from a chilled water generation system via a heat pump. The recovered heat is used to preheat water used in the process
  • An air recovery system: Heat recovery coils on air extraction units are used to preheat incoming air.  A glycol loop is used for heat transfer. This in turn preheats the incoming air for ventilation. This had higher requirements than the Polish standards. 
  • LED lighting technology with individual lamp BMS control. 
  • 25cm insulation core (U value 0.15 W/m2K) helps increase wall and roof insulation to meet new Polish requirements which are due to come into effect in 2021.

Key process design aspects 

Process design needed to meet Toms Group’s strict European production requirements. Key to this was the process plant specification and management of the tender process. Both were integrated into the overall facility design.  PM Group managed this on behalf of Toms Group, working with German process vendor Wellman Engineering and Polish process vendor B&W.

Ingredients handling to packaging

The facility has the capacity for a throughput of 9 tonnes per year and manufactures products such as chocolate candies and bars. It handles numerous ingredients as part of the process including sugar, bulk chocolate, glucose, alcohol (30 brands), and nuts.  Process safety, allergen separation and control were key elements in the design.  The process includes mixing, moulding, enrobing, tablet lines, cooking, alcohol blending and packing. Pigging systems help to recover product from the chocolate tank farm. The packing and end of line equipment is mainly manual. The facility can accommodate up to seven lines. 

Storage and warehousing

During the preliminary engineering stage a detailed logistics study was carried out. The results helped the design team to size the storage requirements and warehouses.  It also informed the layout design and material flows.

Safety

A Hazard and Operability (HAZOP) study/risk assessment was carried out to identify any safety related issues in the process design that would need to be addressed. ATEX and explosion protection was a major consideration - primarily due to the handling and storage of alcohol and powder ingredients.  It involved generation and review of explosion protection documents (EPD), hazardous area classification etc. Containment of alcohol was segregated into separated hazard fire zones and appropriate ATEX compliant equipment specified and installed.

GMP design

The production building was designed around the process thus treating the ‘Process as King’. In designing the layout the location of high, medium and low care areas was optimised. 

Care zones

The kitchen, production and packing areas were identified as high care zones. The raw material and semi-finished product warehouse were classified as medium care. Whereas the offices, plant rooms and workshop were classified as low care zones.   Other outdoor areas such as the utilities building and external warehouse had no zoning.

Raw materials handling

Allergen separation is achieved by a dedicated raw material handling room for allergens. This is separate from the main raw material handling area. This room also has a separate ventilation system.

GMP finishes

Floor finishes included polyurethane resin with hygienic covings and plinths. Wall finishes varied from epoxy paint, stainless steel sandwich panels and food safe coating sandwich panels.

All internal pipe racks were stainless steel and all utility pipework had stainless steel cladding.

 

Read more about the Toms project