How to Increase Flexibility Without Compromising Quality

This case study explores how Wetra were able to significantly increase their production capacity & response times whilst simultaneously improving the hygiene standards for the employees and the product quality for the end consumer.

Wetra Marketing, formed in 1997, is a sister company of Wetra Food Industries Sdn. Bhd. which is located in Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia. Originally Wetra Marketing was set up to sell their own brand of premix coffee, which was manufactured by others, but in order to capture more market share and control quality they decided to bring manufacturing in-house.

In January 2013 they decided to renovate an old factory in order to produce their 35+ beverage mix products, which they sell to the local Malaysian market and export to Brunei, China, Taiwan and Thailand. They also needed to accommodate their Contract Manufacturing business which supplies both the domestic and international markets.

The Corporate Mission for Wetra is to ‘continuously improve and develop HALAL instant food & beverages to provide consumers with products of world class quality to meet total customer satisfaction’. At the outset of the project Mr Loh Tak Heng, MD set the benchmark high – not only should the system installed provide excellent product quality, but it also needed to provide them with manufacturing flexibility with fast response times, at low levels of inventory or WIP, and dust containment for a cleaner environment and operator safety.

The Right Solution
At the time, Wetra did not have its own Engineering support for designing the new factory, so they looked to Matcon to conduct an Engineering Study. This not only looked at installing an IBC system for the immediate production requirements, but also took account of future expansion plans, designing the layout of the factory for optimum efficiencies. In fact, the state- of-the-art software employed by Matcon was able to produce a ‘virtual reality’ factory layout, which enabled the team at Wetra to see exactly how the system would be arranged.

The first phase of the new factory installation included:

  • Sack tipping for filling the IBCs
  • IBC Blending
  • Feeding to a single high-speed packing line
  • A single IBC discharge station feeding to two packing machines
  • IBC Washing via a simple wash lance
  • 1500L stainless steel IBC

Because it was a completely ‘blank sheet’, the flow of product could be optimised, with raw materials com- ing in on the east side of the building and leaving as finished goods out of the west side.

Designed for the Future
The factory was designed with the space to install a further filling and blending area, with at least 3 more packing line stations to be developed. The modular design of the Matcon system makes the integration of this additional capacity a very straightforward exercise.

Fast Mixing
A Matcon IBC Blender is proven to achieve a homogenous blend for a wide range of recipes. Because blending takes places within the IBC itself, there is no need to clean between recipe changes as there are no contact parts.

It is immediately ready to accept the next IBC regardless of whether it is a different recipe, which gives Wetra the ability to ‘mix any recipe, any time’ and has given them the full flexibility they needed to fulfil orders on demand. This means that there is no longer any need to keep vast stocks of inventory to meet an order, a saving in terms of both capital and potentially wasted product.

Assured Product Quality
The Matcon Discharge Station gives an automated and controlled discharge of powder. It is designed to deliver a constant supply of product to the packing lines which enables the equipment to operate effectively. Furthermore, the unique Cone Valve technology within each IBC protects the blended powder against segregation ensuring that the final product is of the consistent high quality customers have come to expect.

No Dust
As the Matcon system is closed at all times, even during discharge, there is no dust released into the production area. This is not only reassuring from a cross-contamination point of view and for the safety of the workforce, but it has also significantly reduced the housekeeping time required around the facility.

The Key to a Bright Future
The Matcon IBC system meets Wetra’s high in- house manufacturing requirements. In fact, they have been able to achieve Halal Foods certification, HACCP Certification and have qualified to be a member of the Federation of Manufacturers of Malaysia.

A further benefit is that the improved hygiene standards have boosted staff motivation as they are happy that their employer provides such a safe working environment.

Because the IBC system is decoupled it enables all the manufacturing processes to take place simultaneously – what we call ‘parallel processing’. It creates a Lean working environment and in the case of Wetra has enabled them to produce as much as their old system in just 1/6th of the time.

They owe their success to innovation, and have been at the forefront of developing instant coffee with herbal additives. With the manufacturing flexibility of their new Matcon IBC facility they are well positioned to take on new contracts & expand their business even further.

“Matcon’s IBC system has enabled Wetra to reduce costs and blending time, improve productivity and enhanced food safety & quality. This has greatly sharpened our competitve edge to venture into the global market and spur our business growth.” Mr Loh Tak Heng, MD

The Rewards: Production flexibility coupled with product quality and employee safety.

  • Specific benefits include:
  • Greater production efficiency enabling manufacture to order not to stock
  • Fast response times
  • Ability to manufacture Halal products
  • Reduced cleaning times
  • Dust-free, for a safer working environment

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