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19th December 2018

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The Journey Commences on Biocatalysts’ New Facility Fit Out

Author: Craig Galeozzie, Operations Manager

In 2013 we installed our ‘Enzyme Production Plant’ featuring a multi-scale fermentation and down stream process that increased our fermentation capability from 50L to 750L maximum volume. With precise project planning, and detailed Factory and Site Acceptance protocol, we immediately achieved saleable product…remarkably even from initial plant commissioning.

What started as 1 fermentation process per month, by 2015 was fully operational 24/7, and in 2018 we will complete over 55 processes supplying some of the world’s leading food and pharma customers.

However, as we rightly enjoyed the success of our existing plant, our sights were on a much larger scale facility with anticipated fermentation volumes exceeding 10,000L complimented by an aligned new down stream process.

But first, where to construct such a facility? The existing plant was obviously too small, relocation would disrupt an already expanding business, and how would we finance the project? The discussions and subsequent business case was a real challenge.

Finally, we agreed that we had no option but to extend the existing factory. An adjacent plot of land was tested for suitability and we started the project in 2016. What started life as a ‘post-it’ note on my desk, within 2 years became a 11,000 sq. ft factory extension, architecturally designed and aesthetically mirroring the existing facility.

After visiting many plants in Europe, I was aware of the pitfalls and risks in getting the initial plant design wrong…I wanted this facility to incorporate ‘state-of-the-art’ design with lean and efficient process methodology, all controlled with innovative IT integration software.

While the construction work was progressing, a contract was signed with WHP Engineering based in Gateshead to design and fabricate the facility. WHP brought over 30 years’ experience of designing and installing similar facilities and after 6 months of process design workshops, layout options, value engineering and formal project activity, the plans became a reality.

October 2018 and plant layout is finalised.

10,000L Fermentation suite with 16,000L process vessels, future proofed to enable double capacity when required.

new factory layout

December 2018 and the fabrication of steel platforms are already being constructed. Here we are at the WHP fabrication facility in Gateshead inspecting for finish and build quality.

craig at WHP

With HAZOP (Hazard & Operability) nearing completion, utilities being upgraded and large equipment purchases being negotiated, strategic delivery of project milestones will continue to drive us to our plant commissioning target date of July 2019.

Look out for my next blog post for further updates.

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