Agricultural manufacturer to invest £700,000 in production line

A Wiltshire manufacturer, specialising in agricultural drying and processing equipment, is driving down its cost of production and delivering on growth potential with an investment into the largest bending machine of its kind in the UK.

Alvan Blanch, based in Chelworth, has over 70 years of experience developing and manufacturing large-scale equipment for the post-harvest agricultural industry.

Its products, which offer farmers and agro-businesses a reduction in post-harvest losses and improved value addition of their crops, are exported to customers across six continents. Their best-selling product, the continuous drier, is responsible for the drying of everything from grain and bananas to woodchip and seaweed.

The new automatic bending cell robot, which was acquired with the support of a near £700,000 loan from Lloyds Bank, will allow the firm to speed up, and reduce cost of, production and prevent backlogs.

The firm predicts that the investment will be instrumental in its ambitions to double production in future. The new equipment offers a greater level of automation, with pre-punched steel sheets being fed-in by the machine itself, allowing for unattended operation to the very highest precision. Wireless laser sensors automatically control the bending, delivering a perfect bend every time.

It is also able to run overnight, meaning that tasks that previously could have taken days can be completed much quicker.

The new acquisition comes as part of a broader strategy of investment in automation to improve productivity and thereby to enable the business to realise its goals of continued growth in exceptionally competitive global markets. For the past few years, this approach has radically altered the business.

Andrew Blanch, managing director at Alvan Blanch, said: “Automation has been transformative to this business over recent years and despite how far we have come on this journey there is so much more yet for us to achieve”.

 As part of its wider cost-cutting and sustainability drive, the company has also invested in a new heat-insulated roof for the factory, with mounted solar panels, as well as a new air source heat pump. Their latest investment this Spring has been to plant up a woodland strip with over 1000 trees, to create a sheltered corridor for wildlife to pass by the production facility in peace.

Further new investments in automation of production are due to follow in the autumn.

Amey Green, associate director at Lloyds Bank said: “Across its seven decades, Alvan Blanch has never been a business to rest on its laurels. A consistently forward-looking attitude has helped to drive the firm to its position as a market leader and major exporter. This new investment will help them to drive new efficiencies and maintain its edge in what is a competitive marketplace.

“We’re proud to be able to support Alvan Blanch’s continued growth, both here in the UK and in export markets around the world.”