Putting the fizz into Business Studies
The Year V Business Studies class and LVI Business students recently took a trip to Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) in Wakefield. We began with a bus tour around the large premises, which we were told is the size of 16 football pitches. We were shown two warehouses, the old one and the new one which was built four years ago at a cost of £33 million. We also saw the recycling part of the plant, CCEP recycles everything and sends nothing to landfill. Once our bus tour had finished we went inside, stopping on the way for a group picture by the Coca-Cola sign.
Once inside the classroom with our guide and teacher, Lucia, we were shocked at the wide product portfolio of drinks that Coca-Cola make. We were also informed that each of the six CCEP factories in Britain specialises in particular products. For example, the Wakefield site only produces the fizzy drinks from Coca-Cola as it only has the machines to produce those particular drinks, unlike other factories.
With our bright hairnets, high visibility jackets and headphones we set off on our tour of the production lines and both warehouses. We were shown everything from the preforms being made into bottles, right through to them being filled and packaged. We then followed the crates of finished cola products to the warehouse, where they were distributed to different customers. They had seven enormous production lines and very complex machines, each manufacturing a different product – we saw Diet Coca-Cola cans and 1.75l original Coca-Cola (in contour bottles) being manufactured. Some of these machines could produce 100 filled bottles or cans per second. The whole process is very capital intensive, which reduces the unit costs of production. CCEP employs ‘just in time’ manufacturing techniques, which means they do not stock extra materials, they get them as and when needed. They even have an arrangement with the can company next door, Ball. There is a line going from the Ball factory to Coca-Cola which delivers the empty cans as and when needed.
We then went to see the warehouses. Firstly, we were shown the old warehouse that was said to have a lot of wasted space making it an inefficient use of floor and height space, since they were restricted to only stacking three crates at a time. This warehouse was also run manually by people zipping around in fork lift trucks. The new warehouse was very different, a huge 38 metres high and managed with six mechanical cranes, each accessing 4,000 crates which made it extremely efficient for those 300 trucks a day which collect the Coca-Cola products. This was all automated, with no workers present, unless there was a breakdown of the cranes. It was extraordinary to see it in operation.
It was an extremely interesting trip and it was good to see the business theory we have learned in the classroom put into action.
By Millie Goode and Romilly Taylor-Littler, Year V