The assignment: design a new salad spread production hall. How do you start?

In the brand new production hall of Colruyt Group Fine Food Salads in Halle, the containers of chicken curry salad roll off the conveyor belt at high speed. Every week, we produce and package 55 tonnes of home-made salad spreads and sauces for Boni Selection and Everyday. Tim Noppen, solution analyst at Colruyt Group’s IT department, explains what was involved in building the new site.

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With 4,200 m², the new salad spread production hall offers space and opportunities for innovation, for example with two fully automated production lines. The production hall is equipped to respond to new products that meet evolving consumer needs, such as vegan spreads, in addition to the existing range of salad spreads on the basis of meat, fish and vegetables. In addition, we made the containers for the salad spreads more sustainable: a saving of no less than 45.5 tonnes of plastic a year! New machines, a new range and new containers. Quite a lot to think about when building the new site. Solution analyst Tim Noppen explains how it happened.

Outlining the ideal process flow

“Before embarking on such a large project, it was important to identify all the needs and requirements in order to achieve the desired goals. That is my job as a solution analyst. After a lot of analysis work, my colleagues and I came up with the ideal process flow for the new production site. This formed the basis for the construction plan of our colleagues from the technical department,” says Tim.

“For example, if they know that the temperature in a certain room should be between 5 and 7°C, that the door opens 10 times a day, that 20 people work there and that there is a machine that generates heat, they can calculate correctly what insulation and cooling they must provide to ensure the right temperature. The cooperation with the technical department went very well! Finally, my colleagues and I made a concrete drawing of the building on the technicians’ plan. In it, we determined the optimal position for the sockets, water connections, machines, control buttons, etc. We opted for sawtooth loading docks: that is easier for the trucks and it means we have more ground space available for the production area.”

The new salad spread production hall in Halle is 4,200 m² in size and future-proof until at least 2036. The new salad spread production hall in Halle is 4,200 m² in size and future-proof until at least 2036.

“Another thing we paid attention to when designing the factory: the technical rooms and the IT network are located above the production areas. If adjustments are needed in the future, we can easily do them without hindering the production process or having to put on special protective clothing to enter the hall. A win-win scenario!”

Customer and service-oriented work

“I did the coordination between the business, analysis, IT and technical part,” says Tim proudly. “I took care of all the status updates, presented the plans and kept an eye on the schedule. It was very easy for our partner at Fine Food to have a single point of contact. We took care of absolutely everything for our partner. And that fits right in with our service-oriented mindset.”

Colruyt Group Fine Food Salads produces 220,000 containers of salad spread (200 grams) each week. Colruyt Group Fine Food Salads produces 220,000 containers of salad spread (200 grams) each week.

Future-proof until 2036

What will the future bring? “We now have enough room to keep innovating with new products and technologies for the next 15 years,” Tim emphasises. “Today, the machines of Fine Food Salads already generate a mass of data: how many containers pass through each day and at what speed, what error codes are given … We collect this data in a central location. In time, we will link this data with our ‘Internet of Things’ platform and use these insights for strategic work. That’s what I call long-term thinking. Future-proof until at least 2036!”