The 1,000sqft ‘JJA Snack’ facility is an initiative by JJA Pack – a global supplier of industrial chocolate-handling equipment based in South Yorkshire, which supplies the likes of Mondelez and Premier Foods.
Siemens has created an advanced, commercially viable chocolate manufacturing line for the facility, to give hands-on experience with technologies used to manufacture chocolate bars in a hope to inspire the next generation of UK manufacturing engineers.
Thousands of school kids will now have the opportunity to learn about where chocolate comes from and how its harvested, with pupils able to design a bar and create it on the JJA Snack production line. A group from Outwood Academy Shafton will be among the first to visit the site in Barnsley.
Meanwhile, engineering students will be able to learn about data capture, streamlining manufacturing processes and energy efficiency.
Commenting on the opening, Jamie Ashpole, director at JJA Snack, emphasised the importance of creating opportunity for students of all ages.
“It’s so important that we inspire more young people to pursue careers in manufacturing to enable the sector’s future success,” he added.
The timing of the new factory also coincides with the new release of ‘Wonka’ based on the beloved Roald Dahl character of ‘Willy Wonka’; and while the modern chocolate factory looks worlds apart from any Dahl creation, as Andy Lane, business development manager at Siemens said, it’s equally exciting.
“Chocolate can be an extremely difficult substance to handle due to its inclination to set and become solid. This can damage equipment and bring down-time to production lines, causing big brands millions-of-pounds in losses a week,” Lane noted.
“This is just one of the engineering challenges that budding Wonkas at JJA Snack will learn about - alongside how manufacturers are using smart digital technologies to spot and remedy problems before they occur.”
The facility will be manufacturing chocolate under its own name, along with customer-branded bars.