Esteemed representatives from the Maidstone community attended today’s opening of a new state-of-the-art manufacturing plant set to bring work opportunities and a positive environmental impact to the local area.
Distinguished guests included Faversham and Mid Kent MP, Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) Helen Whately and The Worshipful the Deputy Mayor of Maidstone Martin Cox.
The factory, owned by global indoor climate solutions manufacturer Zehnder Group, is in the Hollingbourne area of Maidstone, with easy access to major transportation routes and infrastructure providing improved logistics hub and delivery capabilities for Zehnder customers throughout the UK.
The guests were warmly received by Dr Hans-Peter Zehnder, chairman of the board of directors for the 120-year-old Zehnder Group, as well as Zehnder UK managing director Tony Twohig. Together, they performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was followed by an exclusive tour.
The new factory site has been designed to meet the highest standards of quality and sustainability, and will incorporate the latest energy-efficient technologies to minimise its environmental impact.
The new building operates at the highest energy efficiency level, BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) Class A, through the implementation of solar panels, LED low energy lighting, which is light sensitive and self-adjusting, and heat recovery heating and cooling systems in the office areas.
Brand new machinery, such as plastic moulding machines, cooling systems and a fully electric vehicle fleet, including forklift trucks, also work to the latest energy efficiency ratings, lowering Zehnder’s carbon footprint and becoming a key part of its journey to carbon neutral.
The sustainability credentials of the new factory don’t end there. The new site is set up to recycle the energy from cooling water to heat or cool the machines, and then in the winter, reuse the heat from the compressed air system to warm the building, meaning the site is in a constant process of reuse and recycle, putting less strain on the local grid and surrounding amenities.
Zehnder has committed to remaining and investing in the Maidstone area. Most of the staff live within 12 miles of the site, including the factory’s operations manager, and every employee has access to a local free electric bus service to help them get to work.
The launch will also open up job opportunities for local residents, with a focus on skilled and experienced professionals in the manufacturing and engineering fields.
The operations team will use local businesses, such as packaging suppliers, facilities management companies, hospitality suppliers (for example local hotels and caterers), subcontractors (toolmakers, and materials suppliers) and logistics providers to help with external requirements.
Helen Whately MP said: “It’s great to have Zehnder in Maidstone and continuing to invest in our local economy. Its new factory is impressive, combining innovative technology with sustainability.
“Investments like this are just what our area needs. They bring good jobs and opportunities, and mark Kent out as a place to do business. I wish Zehnder every success for the future.”