Coca-Cola is Streamlining its Operations with a Brand-New Facility in Houston
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State of the art facilities are driving the manufacturing industry forwards. With this in mind, Coca-Cola is moving ahead with a new production plant to serve its southwestern customers.
Mexico-based Arca Continental is one of the largest franchises bottling products on behalf of Coca-Cola and presently serves the Southwest US region via its subsidiary Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages. This is achieved via two long-standing plants in Bissonnet and the Gulfgate area, and four separate warehousing and distribution facilities in Brittmoore, Channelview, Glenbrook, and Conroe.
However, the company has come to the conclusion that having so many separate locations to serve one region is inefficient and costly, and has decided to consolidate its operations into a single new state-of-the-art facility located in Houston, with estimated savings to the company of $30 million in operating expenses over just three years.
A New Facility
A new facility for Coca-Cola is long overdue. The new Houston location will be its first new plant constructed in the last decade within the USA. The plant will be located at the Pinto Business Park at Beltway 8 and Interstate 45. The one million square foot project is expected to cost around $250 million and will break ground in Q3 2018 with a due date for completion in Q1 2020.
The plant will have five separate production lines and expansive space for sales, warehousing, and distribution for a range of Coca-Cola products, including soft drinks, juice, and bottled water. Figures for production capacity are still forthcoming, but it's expected to be capable of a marked increase in present levels when compared to the output of the existing facilities.
"The productivity, efficiency and sustainability that this new plant will bring to beverage production in the US Coca-Cola system confirms our company's determination to improve its competitiveness, enhance service at the point of sale, and expand our portfolio for the communities we serve in Texas, Oklahoma, some parts of Arkansas, and New Mexico, always in a profitable and sustainable way," said Chief Executive Officer of Arca Continental, Francisco Garza Egloff.
The technology employed in manufacturing facilities has improved greatly over the last decade and, while it certainly is possible to retrofit existing locations with these innovations, a completely fresh facility provides a fantastic opportunity for Coca-Cola to incorporate Industry 4.0 tech from the concept stage up.
Technology from the fourth industrial revolution (which we are currently passing through) is known as Industry 4.0, and it is shaping the design and construction of facilities the world over. The first industrial revolution was defined by mechanization, the second by mass production, and the third by computers and automation.
(Image source: wikipedia.org)
The fourth industrial revolution is defined by cyber-physical systems - the bringing together of physical and digital technology.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is perhaps the most well-known example of Industry 4.0 technology. With production technology connected to the internet (and therefore everything else), machines can communicate with one another for optimum efficiency and efficacy. Data can also be fed back to central computers, ready to be analyzed by data scientists and turned into real actionable insights.
Machines can detect when a fault is developing and arrange for an engineer to visit and/or a replacement part to be ordered before the issue becomes so large as to shut down production, saving millions in terms of both dollars and time.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning allow these devices to facilitate their own development and make adjustments to their own processes. Tiny inefficiencies can slow down entire production lines significantly, so the ability to make corrections without the attendance of an engineer can pay dividends. With IoT connectivity, these devices can also predict the effect their actions will have on other machines in the line, meaning they can act in the best interests of the whole operation rather than just their own roles.
This new facility shows Coca-Cola's dedication to developing its production facilities and making sure they're incorporating the very latest in production technology to improve the company's entire operation and the way it serves its clients in the southwest region.
"This significant investment confirms Arca Continental's commitment for the sustainable value-creation in all the markets we serve, and is a reflection of the confidence in our company's ability to continue perfecting its performance, serving its customers with excellence and anticipating the needs of consumers," said Chairman of the Board of Directors at Arca Continental, Manuel L. Barragan Morales.
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