R&R Ice Cream, the world’s third largest ice cream manufacturer, has completed a four year, £25 million investment programme at its Leeming Bar factory in North Yorkshire. The investment programme has helped R&R to increase production capability at the site by more than 20%.
The factory has 22 production lines making some 250 million litres of ice cream a year with a workforce of more than 500 at peak production times. It manufactures a wide range of ice cream, lollies and frozen yoghurt in many different formats including tubs, cones, bars, desserts, stick products and ice cream sandwiches. Branded products made at Leeming Bar include Fab, Oreo, Smarties, Cadbury, Rowntrees and leading frozen yoghurt brand Yoomoo as well as own label products for all the UK’s leading retailers.
Ryad Apasa, Head of UK Operations for R&R, said: “This latest investment means the factory is now one of the five largest ice cream and lolly production facilities in the world. I am equally delighted that – despite achieving a significant increase in production – changes we have made to the energy supply and treatment of effluent mean the site’s carbon footprint has actually reduced slightly to 0.26 tCO2e/tonne compared to 0.27 tCO2e/tonne previously. We continue to focus on sustainability and are currently investigating installing photovoltaic cells on the factory roof.”
To meet the demand for more power, the firm has installed a new CHP (Combined Heating and Power plant). Faced with a requirement to spend £1.5 million on new cabling and upgrading a nearby sub-station, R&R decided to install the plant which is powered by natural gas. When operational, the heat produced by the generator is itself used to produce hot water for the site as well as steam which is used for general cleaning purposes.
Installing the CHP plant has led to significant savings in energy costs and R&R estimates the £2million cost of the plant will be repaid in just over three years.
More production has also meant that the capacity of the on-site effluent treatment plant has been increased from 600,000 litres to 1.5 million litres per a day. The plant uses reverse osmosis – a separating method where very high pressures of around 80 bar force a solution through a semi-permeable membrane. Clean water passes through the membrane and is then re-cycled back to the factory whilst the waste is retained. From early 2016 around 30,000 tonnes of this waste annually – some two-thirds of the total – will be taken to a nearby anaerobic digester, owned by Leeming Biogas Ltd. The ice cream waste will be used to produce biomethane which will be fed directly into the local gas network which in turn supplies R&R with gas for their CHP. The remaining waste will be used to enhance local agricultural land.
New product development has always been a focus at R&R Ice Cream and, as part of the investment programme, selected manufacturing equipment has also been re-engineered. This has enabled products such as the Cadbury Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations range with its inclusions of jellies and popping candy which are new formats for the sector to be made along with a Yoomoo lolly which has a very high yoghurt content, is low in fat and proving very popular with families.
“Through using our skilled in-house engineering teams to adapt the existing production equipment, we can continue to advance the boundaries with new manufacturing techniques which ensure R&R’s reputation for innovation will continue,” added Ryad.
Image: Left to right: James Thompson – head of operations at Stokesley-based anaerobic digestion plant developer JFS Associates Ryad Apasa – head of operations at R&R Ice Cream’s Leeming Bar site.
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