A-B InBev builds European distribution strategy with Herchenbach

Anheuser-Busch InBev (A-B InBev) is the world’s leading brewer and one of the world’s top five consumer products companies. Over the past 10 years, A-B InBev has grown its global distribution network using a tried and tested strategy which goes against the grain for traditional brewery specifications. In place of cost and time intensive permanent structures, A-B InBev adopts a design-driven approach in partnership with Herchenbach – a market leading manufacturer of temporary buildings and semi-permanent warehouses.

Distribution Building Designed and Delivered to Brewery

Having previously commissioned Herchenbach on over a dozen distribution projects across Europe, A-B InBev consulted its trusted partner when evaluating growth plans for its UK site in Magor, South Wales – a distribution hub destined to support European development plans. After conducting a feasibility study which confirmed the suitability of a semi-permanent structure on the existing site, Tobias Raeber, Managing Director at Herchenbach, worked with his experienced team to take the project from design through to installation.

Building a brand… from the ground up

As a globally respected brand, A-B InBev seeks to protect its image in every aspect of operations – including its warehousing and distribution facilities. At the same time, the company strives to minimise environmental impact while maximising cost efficiency. To help achieve these objectives within its growth strategy, AB-InBev consulted Herchenbach on semi-permanent building solutions – resulting in its high-grade aluminium structures becoming the preferred specification.

“The off-site building approach which our systems support deliver significant sustainable advantages. Unlike traditional build techniques where there are high volumes of transport required for materials, our deliveries to site are minimal which helps to reduce the carbon footprint on every project,” explains Tobias.

Manufactured and installed by Herchenbach, all components of the modular system are designed to deliver the highest quality for the lifetime of the structure. For example, the roof materials undergo a unique manufacturing process which prevents discolouring over time. Moreover, quality standards are tightly managed throughout every aspect of production and installation, ensured by Herchenbach as the manufacturer having direct control of the full supply chain. This includes interfacing with the groundworkers and consulting engineers at design stage to ensure the correct load bearing performance is achieved for the building specification.

Rhodri Williams, Site Manager for Andrew Scott, groundworkers on the Magor project, shares his thoughts: “Having worked with Herchenbach on previous projects, we’ve consistently been impressed by their interfacing on-site with our own project teams and have found them to be expert and knowledgeable in terms of how our works need to integrate with the Herchenbach system construction. They are flexible and professional and a real pleasure to work with.”

Convenient, compliant, consistent

The design and construction of a semi-permanent structure makes it an ideal specification choice for warehousing and distribution centres. For example, at A-B InBev the ambient light and temperature of Herchenbach buildings contribute to a reduction in operational spend while the cost savings realised by the initial build process equate to approximately fifty percent. A-B InBev also benefits from increased flexibility when developing new sites, as the systems can be installed on a wide range of ground types, including asphalt and composite paving.

Financial savings aside, which are a clear commercial advantage; it is the speed of build which emerges as one of the biggest benefits for A-B InBev when rolling out its global distribution expansion strategy. Once the design details were approved for the Magor site, Herchenbach successfully constructed a 10,000m2 semi-permanent structure, complete with service lines, doors, gates and lighting, all in under five weeks.

This was despite a design modification part way through the project when Part B compliance was introduced as part of the planning conditions. Drawing on an existing range of fire tested solutions for use within the standard Herchenbach systems, the building design was easily updated with no delays to installation.

“We’ve developed our systems over many years which means we are able to meet local building standards without having to manufacture or source bespoke solutions. Herchenbach systems are truly modular, including any specialist fire protection which may be required. This offers our customers greater peace of mind that we can fast track projects to a quality standard – even where there are some unexpected compliance demands,” continues Tobias.

The impressive implementation programme was largely due to Herchenbach being able to closely coordinate manufacture, the efficient sourcing of supplier products and ‘just-in-time’ delivery in line with on-site programmes. Precision manufactured to almost exact tolerances resulted in efficiency gains during construction as the build could run exactly to plan while the Herchenbach contracting team interfaced efficiently and effectively with follow-on trades.

From feasibility to finance – the partnership approach

The tried and tested development model which A-B InBev has pioneered is a best practice example of how a partnership approach with the system manufacturer can pay dividends. Not only does A-B InBev benefit from expert technical guidance during feasibility study stages, the global brewing giant can access a range of flexible financing options which Herchenbach provides. “As the manufacturer we’re in a unique position which allows us to work with our customers to build a solution that best fits their needs. Finance is just one way that we can support companies with ambitious growth strategies, but it is increasingly popular for rolling development programmes,” concludes Tobias.

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