Milbank Concrete Products Ltd. renewes its production process in Colchester, UK

Milbank Concrete Products Ltd., based in Colchester/Essex (UK), talked to several potential suppliers of batching plants about renewing its production process. MCT Italy was the only company able to offer a complete solution meeting all the requirements specified by Milbank.

Hollow-core slabs are the core products Milbank Concrete Products Ltd, operating in Colchester Essex from 3 large factories over an 8 acres site. It is a family run business that prides itself on a strong reputation for reliability. The company currently employs 164 full time personnel 44 of which make up 11 teams of directly employed highly skilled fixing teams that have a wealth of experience and training, this along with it’s engineering and contracting departments make sure that all of its projects are carried out by in house personnel.

Milbank embarked on a study of how to modernise and improve their processes to make the manufacture and distribution of the concrete as efficient as possible and minimize the down time experienced with the old plant. This consequently led to a significant investment throughout the entire factory including mould re-design and replacement and, after many months of deliberation it was decided the start this investment process should be the concrete plant, namely the concrete distribution system. However once discussion started it soon became apparent that the best course of action was to embark on the complete upgrading / replacement of the batching plant.

MCT Italy preferred supplier of choice

After years of service their existing plant was out-dated and there were far more advanced ways of improving the consistency and quality of the concrete, along with their distribution system, which was problematical in Milbank’s factory. It was also imperative to upgrade the whole system to fall in line with the further investment plans with the intended new and additional moulds. The task of replacing the key structures and the major pieces of crucial production machinery without losing production itself was of primary importance to Milbank as it had a full order book and didn’t want to let its clients down.

Milbank spoke to several potential suppliers of batching plants and MCT Italy were the only company able to offer a complete solution to meet all the demands and requests given by Milbank. It was this flexibility of approach and solution offered that allowed Milbank to select MCT Italy as their preferred supplier of choice.

The package MCT worked out to fulfil the complex request, this included the engineering of the aggregates section of the batching plant, with the replacement of the hoppers which were integrated in a concreted structure (to be re–used) the replacement of the aggregate weigh batcher with a complete new mixing section engineered to fit within the existing building space available. Also within this scope it required planetary mixer, skip hoist, mixer platform and all associated equipment furthermore a complete new distribution system replacing their single flying bucket with dual flying buckets which were to serve the proposed 13 x 100m beds of the production building along with removing the inclined tracks, which constituted one of the biggest issues in the previous configuration.

Minimum factory closure for the retrofit

The challenge on the project development was even harder since the production demand at Milbank couldn’t allow the smallest amount of downtime to the factory for the comprehensive retrofit. Here MCT came up with a very flexible solution which involved the supply of MCT’s very own smart mobile plant type MCR ‘on the road’ to ensure the concrete production manufactured/batched alongside their existing factory and then moved by conveyor belt into the existing flying bucket over the 8 week period allocated  for the removal and retrofit of the plant and distribution system.

This allowed Milbank to fulfil their production programme and to avoid purchasing concrete from ANY external sources, where no doubt some control would be lost and be able to create some great savings in the process.

After the quick installation of the MCR plant and integration into the ‘old’ distribution system, Milbank within days switched off the main batching plant, commenced  the dismantling and safe removal of the ‘old’ plant and associated equipment.

A massive advantage of the MCR was that the mixer operators were initially trained on the operation of the MCT ‘Compumat’ automation software and this was a great advantage as ALL MCT plants operate on the same structure and this saved an enormous amount of time, once the commissioning of the main plant got underway.

True partnership with the customer

In this provisional layout, the MCR mobile plant was engineered to feed the existing flying bucket in phase 1, while MCT crews were installing the first of the 2 new ‘lines’ feeding the production hall whilst the main plant was also being erected. Then, in phase 2 the MCR mobile plant and feeding system was switched to the new flying bucket line, while dismantling the old one and re-install the second new line, before finally switching to the new plant. Once the commissioning of the new fixed batching plant was completed and all its parts operating, the ensured a great level of confidence on the processes and without any possible blackout.

During this process the MCT crews dismantled the existing plant and re-installed the new equipment, which was customized by MCT technical departments upon the layout available and in true partnership with the customer to optimize the times involved for the removal of existing components and structures Milbank had in place. The plant was designed around the new planetary mixer of 1.5 m3 output, feeding 2 lines of flying buckets which are then respectively feeding 7 hollow core beds and 6 T-beams beds, although theoretically either product can now be made on any bed being fed by either flying bucket giving total manufacturing flexibility. The integration of the rail supports allowed MCT to demonstrate its engineering skills and the ability of the technical department being able to design customized and tailor made solutions.

Opportunity to upgrade

The plant not only had the mixing group and concrete distribution system replaced, Milbank also took the opportunity to comprehensively upgrade the entire plant: new aggregate extractions, dosing systems for aggregates, cement, admixtures and water along with a complete automatic washout system for mixer and flying buckets. They also had a customized control room, and the integration of Milbank’s existing water recycling plant into the new software. The final upgrade was the cement silos layout, this has been redesigned to meet with the new demands and regulations, this included the replacement of 2 silos and the refurbishment of 3rd existing one with new accessories.

The complete installation is operated by the MCT ‘Compumat’ platform that integrates both the batching plant and concrete distribution in the same control system. This is can be run from the main control room and or via a remote station in the production building from where the operators can run the whole system and call concrete directly from the anywhere in the production beds area, access is via a system that was developed by MCT’s software department that allows Milbank to allow different personal different levels of access and control of the system via ‘swipe cards’ issued to individual members of staff, this again demonstrated the willingness to tailor make the plants to suit individual customer requests.

Optimum utilization of production sheds

“Concrete consistency and quality exceeded all our expectations, and this was apparent within a couple of days of the mobile plant starting and has continued with the completion of the main plant,” says Andy Mayne, Milbank’s Managing Director.  “The flexibility of the MCT system ensures optimum utilization of our production sheds. Automation and plasticity control have enabled us to significantly reduce cycle times and increase finished concrete strength with no additional cement or admixtures.”

MCT Italy are represented in the UK & Ireland by PUK Services who also worked closely with Milbank and assisted with project management during the design and installation phases of this complex project and continue to support with aftersales and parts from their offices and warehouse in the UK.


MCT Italy S.R.L.

Via Perugia, 105

06084 Bettona (PG)/Italy

Milbank Concrete Products Ltd

Earls Colne Business Park

Earls Colne

Colchester, Essex

CO6 2NS/United Kingdom


PUK Limited

Unit 1, Stratford Agri-Park

Clifford Chambers

Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire

CV37 8LP/United Kingdom

+44 (0) 1789 721 655

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