Waikato Valley Chocolates is in full production in a new facility at Northgate Business Park in Horotiu and bringing to fruition benefits of the purpose built facility.
The 3,200 square metre build was designed and constructed by Apollo Projects, a specialist construction company in the food and beverage sector, and incorporates both the production and bulk storage components of Waikato Valley’s business on the one site.
As a long time Waikato business, Waikato Valley Chocolates produces an extensive range of hollow eggs, various chocolate coated products and traditional tablet chocolate products for The Warehouse Group and other key retail and tourism customers.
The new facility gives Waikato Valley Chocolates significantly increased production efficiency through well planned work-flow design and provides potential to increase production by up to 20 percent to allow for future growth opportunities.
As specialists with design and build construction in the food and beverage sector, Apollo Projects offered significant expertise to Waikato Valley, particularly in the design stages for the new facility based on their previous experience in the wider food industry, says Grant Black, Apollo Projects business development manager.
Grant says this is where Apollo’s structured concept development approach and early contractor involvement provides real and tangible advantages in ensuring production process and workflow planning are clearly understood and documented prior to integration in a building configuration. Waikato Valley Chocolates had previously operated from a site that had developed organically over time and because of this had inherent inefficiencies which were able to be addressed in the new facility.
“For example the new Waikato Valley build required an orientation to the south with the loadout canopies and truck manoeuvring areas facing away from the sun for this client so that the hardstand areas were shaded during the day. This ensured concrete slabs remained cool for optimal product quality and maximised the flexibility of this part of the client’s operation,” he explains. “That’s the kind of detail Apollo get into on a project – really understanding the client’s business and their specific needs. We develop a really close relationship with the client, working through detail, discussing the various options and various scenarios of how things could be configured to work best for the business.”
The resulting facility includes 2000 square metres of production space, 800 square metres of finished goods warehousing and 300 square metres of offices. The facility had very specific requirements not only in terms of food hygiene but also in terms of temperature – cool for raw product, hot for the melting area, cool for storage areas etc.
“It was a matter of creating these various environments in a very efficient way so there was as little loss of energy during the process as possible,” says Grant.
Apollo Projects was started in 2001 and is a turn-key specialist in controlled environments focusing on design and construction management of food and dairy processing facilities, wineries and breweries, cold stores, warehouses and sports and aquatic facilities. The company has over 50 professional project delivery and support staff spread across New Zealand. As a national operator this benefits clients with national operations, says Grant.
As testament to the company’s success Apollo Projects regularly works with major national companies including Fonterra, Goodman Fielder, George Weston Foods, Ngai Tahu and Lion Co as well as private owner-operated businesses, sports organisations and Government/Council entities.
“Leveraging our theoretical and practical understanding of project buildability leads to a more cost-effective design. Over the past 15 years Apollo Projects has evolved and grown, but the core principle has stayed the same – to really focus on optimising each design to suit the specific needs of the client to enhance their business operations.”