The final site visit of the year took a group from the Scottish Ayrshire region to Diageo's bottling and distribution facility at Shieldhall, near Glasgow.


Now almost 40 years old, the facility layout is still considered the optimum configuration for maximising efficient production. It produces 28 million cases of whisky each year.

Cask strength spirit is delivered daily to the plant, with each of the 30 bulk tankers containing 30,000 litres of spirit. It is then filtered and mixed to the correct ABV and colour for the various brands. Seven bottling lines each produce up to 280 bottles per minute, with the fastest line producing 600 bottles per minute. Each line must be flexible for different bottle sizes, labels and caps, which are all market dependant.

The group was shown the new £6 million pallet handling system which efficiently feeds the production lines. Downtime is the biggest challenge for any production line, and one lost minute on a Diageo line can result in 2,300 bottles lost production.

Diageo has employed the Malcolm Group, specialists in warehouse management, material control, stock supply and logistics on despatch, to work closely with the production team of Diageo. The visiting group were given an overview on how the parties work together, and how they continually look for greater efficiencies for the ‘just in time’ operation.

Some 75% of all production at Shieldhall is exported, so the facility must deal with a large amount of customs documentation. Respecting core values of safety, employee satisfaction, quality and uptime are also part of the philosophy, the audience were told.