Nestle Suisse's Broc, Switzerland, plant blends 21st-century flexibility and efficiency with traditional artisan care and quality
In the heart of the Gruyeres Valley, at the foot of the majestic Swiss Alps, a tradition encompassing nearly two centuries of chocolate-making dovetails with the latest 21st century technology. This melange of artistry and automation -- in the French-speaking town of Broc -- answers the production demands of Nestle Suisse SA, which reach 14,000 tons annually.
"We have a combination of old equipment and new," says Elizabeth Widmer, one of the most experienced employees at Nestle Suisse's Broc, Switzerland plant, the sole manufacturing facility for the company's line of CAILLER premium chocolate products. "It all works together very well."
In fact, production in the 90,000-square-meter plant flows incredibly efficiently, despite the complicated and vast array of production lines arranged to accommodate more than 1,500 SKUs of CAILLER and other Nestle chocolate products. Amazingly, throughout the entire facility, there is only one production line -- the CAILLER Branch line -- which begins the process on one end and actually completes it at the other. The line manufactures 3-in. to 6-in. cylindrical tubes of solid chocolate and is engineered to combine simplicity with efficiency. Turning out 600 branches a minute, the line features a Bepex extruder, and a SIG Sapal wrapping machine.
But at Broc, production entails more than just efficiency. Quality and flexiblity play key roles in assuring the facility meets artisan standards established centuries ago. Thus, the two co-exist in testimony that art and science can meet, albeit …