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:: THE ART OF FLAVOUR BLENDING

CREATIVE Flavours Fragrances' three factories all located within close proximity to each other. Each of them has a specific production focus. The largest of the 3 is set aside for production of vanilla powders. The third factory is a dedicated facility for liquid flavours. While the first two factories mentioned are leased by Creative, the last is wholly owned by the company.

Spacious is the most appropriate word to describe the vanilla powder factory as one steps into it. The total space taken up by the cube-tumblers is a mere 1,000 square feet when the total built-in space of the factory is 8,500 square feet. However, the excess factory space did not go unutilised. Rows of custom-made shelves took up almost half of the factory space. Drums of vanillin and other solvents are stacked onto these shelves. In addition, the top platform of this arrangement serves a storage space for empty drums and yet-to-be used cartons.

Blending is done via two cubetumblers. These are larger versions of a prototype which was purchased several years back by Creative. The original cube-tumbler from Japan can only produce in batches of 25 kilograms. When Creative's orders started piling up, it was immediately phased out and a similar machine with the production capacity of half a tonne was made to meet its orders. Finding itself up to its neck with orders, Creative had another machine with production capacity of 1 tonne custom-built.

Each of the cube tumbler-mixers has a small opening at one of its sides where all the necessary raw materials go in. To make vanilla powder, dextrose monohydrate, vanillin and other specialties will undergo a process where they are thoroughly blended. At a push of a button, the mixers will be rotated on bars. After the cube tumbler-mixer has rotated for several minutes, the machine is stopped and a large tank beneath the mixer will be placed into position. At another corner of the cube is an opening where the thoroughly mixed powder will be allowed to fall into the tank. As soon as the tank is three - quaters full, one of the workers will shut the vent to prevent more powder from exiting and packing of the powder begins.

In scoops, the workers will pack the white powder into each carton. To ensure that 25 kilograms of vanilla powder are packed into each carton, these are placed onto a weighing machine. Once full, the carton is sealed and then stacked systematically onto a pallet.

The factory space is only under lease and hence, Creative has ensured that its tumbler mixers are mobile rather than secured to the floor. Having to pack the finished flavour manually is a process which Creative is dissatisfied with ."We are looking into solving this kind of production problems," affirmed Victor Koh. Creative hopes that the factory will run continuously eventually and that the use of manual labour will be minimised. Overlooking the production area is a huge room which will be converted to an office and a laboratory in future when the factory is purchased by Creative.

In the other factory which produces liquid flavours, a large 5 tons mixing tank completely mobile stood on rollers in the centre. This mixing tank can hold up to 5 tons of fluid and has several different vents to allow for different methods of packing the finished liquid flavour, i.e. in drums or in containers. Nearby, two mobile silverson stirrers (10HP and 20HP) stand guard, ready for production anytime. APK Twin shell dry blender for powder is fixed onto the factory floor not far from the mixing tank. This blender can blend up to half a tonne of powder flavours. On the second storey, there is a fully-furnished office and a laboratory.

In both factories, the excess factory space is actually a sign of Creative's commitment to the future. Said Koh, " The extra space will make it easy for us to a few more blenders and tumbler-mixers should the need arise. These two factories are actually test models, giving us the clues as to how to run similar factories in other countries."




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