Here comes the fizz

Coca-Cola Enterprises produces 6,000 soft drink cans a minute at its Wakefield, Yorkshire site.

James Pozzi tours Coca-Cola Enterprises’ Wakefield facility, the largest of its kind in Europe, and strolls through the evidence of heavy UK investment from the global drinks giant.

In the twenty five years since opening, Coca-Cola Enterprises’ vast Wakefield operation has undergone a raft of changes. Currently the largest soft drinks manufacturing site in Europe – third in the world – the expansion juggernaut continues to move at seemingly breakneck speed.

With investment at Wakefield set to top £100m for the five years leading up to 2014, with CCE also recently committing to putting £1m a week into UK operations, the site displays an impressive range of manufacturing capability.

This includes a new £30m automated storage and retrieval warehouse, and the addition of a new production line to the tune of £12.5m, adding to the existing seven manufacturing and two pre-form injection lines. This is with the intention to produce the contour Coca-Cola bottle in polyethylene terephthalate packaging, across the 1.25 litre and 1.75 litre formats.

With a commitment to the green agenda, this year will also see the introduction of a combined heat and power (CHP) system, which will reduce CO2 by 5.6%, around 1,500 tonnes.

The site’s operations director Ian Johnson, who started at Wakefield in 1989, used the analogy of the British Olympic Cycling team’s quest for marginal gains to describe CCE’s on-site mentality. At a site producing 6,000 soft drink cans a minute, Johnson also highlights the skills of Wakefield’s 419 staff as a key factor behind its success.

“If you look at the changes the site has been through over the past 25 years, from the first pre-form manufacturing at CCE to now producing 100 cans a second, it’s ultimately the employees that make doing all of this possible,” he said. “I genuinely believe we have a fantastic set of people.”