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Manufacturing

Sweet Life

There's a lot more to Mars than chocolate.   For instance, few people know that it owns the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, a long term animal global research centre, the Mypetstop and Royal Canin brands, produces pet and fish foods, and has a plant at Milton Keynes that produces horse feeds under the Spillers, Winergy, Buckeye and Equivite brands.

In fact, Mars Horsecare UK Milton Keynes is one of eight sites in the UK producing horse feed products, and its maintenance falls to maintenance manager Dave McMillan.   “Over the years, the factory has gained an ever increasing number of suppliers.   It was felt that a rationalisation was long overdue and we culled our preferred suppliers to 30 percent of its original number.   As a consequence, we now have suppliers that have undergone a thorough vetting programme.   Those core suppliers have done us proud and I’m pleased to say Pirtek is one of the approved suppliers,” he says.   “As far as I’m concerned, Pirtek is one of the best things that have happened to this site.   Pirtek’s hydraulic work has always been good, but now I realise just how much more the company can offer.  They have been able to source all sorts of odd parts for me.   One of the most useful has been pneumatic cylinders used in the packing process. I just have to phone Pirtek Milton Keynes and they find me what I want, and usually have it on site within the hour - you can’t complain about that sort of service.” McMillan says that Pirtek has proved particularly adept at finding parts and spares for equipment manufactured outside the UK.   “We have machinery from Denmark, Italy and all over Europe.   Finding parts for them would be a nightmare if it wasn’t for Pirtek,” he asserts.   “They hold all my hydraulic materials and fittings so I don’t have to keep a massive spares stock, which lowers my overheads.”

McMillan reports that the Milton Keynes facility processes natural products such as grass, straw, nuts, molasses, garlic, peas, carrots, wheat, and oats.   These are cut, mixed with supplements and pressed into pellets before packing. The entire process is automated and computerised, so that out of the 70 staff on site, only four permanent and three maintenance staff work on the packing side.   “We process 30 to 40 lorries a day and produce 1,300 tonnes of feed a week for up to 50 products and a lot of specials and trials as well.   Because the process is so heavily automated, any machine failure could be a real problem, so preventive maintenance and the support of Pirtek is essential,” Dave McMillan concludes.    “They are a very useful and reliable supplier.   They take a lot of the worry out of maintaining the plant for me.”

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