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Weston Group has opened a factory in Braintree to build kitchens, bathrooms and other fittings for its house-building sites. Weston’s new factory has capacity to receive 1,200 container shipments of materials a year and to supply components for 5,000 new homes a year.

The computerised complex can also assemble bespoke customer orders – up to 60 plots per day – typically a kitchen pack, bathroom pack, and other fittings and finishes. Weston forecasts that within the next 10 years technology will allow for new homes to be fully manufactured off-site by robots and computer-assisted engineering tools.

Weston’s £12m Braintree Logistics Centre is a 75,000 sq.ft distribution and build-off-site complex, standing 10 meters high. Designed by PRC Architects with supply chain consultant Gideon Hillman, it took 18 months to build.

The new complex has 60,000 sq ft of warehousing space, a 10,000 sq ft of manufacturing and assembly space and 5,000 sq ft of offices. Manufacturing and assembly is designed around a series of conveyor belts and stillages on wheels that transport items to processing machines, tool stations and assembly plants. A barcode system tracks specific customer orders as buyers are offered a choice of units, surfaces and floorings in their bathrooms and kitchens.

Bob Weston, chief executive of Weston Group said: “The new Braintree Logistics Centre is a highly advanced distribution and build-off-site centre and represents the future of the volume housebuilding industry. Within the next 10 years technology will allow for new homes to be fully manufactured off-site by robots and computer-assisted engineering tools; customer specification choices fully automated, with factory-made components then built on-site using machines like a highly advanced lego-system. This step change will help enhance site safety, quality control and automotive-like precision. Our blue-chip factory at Braintree is another pioneering part of the process.”

Shaun Weston, managing director of Weston Logistics said: “This new Braintree Logistics Centre transforms Weston Group’s logistics and off-site manufacturing capacity and enhances our ability to control our supply chain, improve the delivery of customer specification choices and ensure the quality of the products that form the specification of the homes we sell. Weston Group has a £2 billion development pipeline of 6,000 new homes and this new complex helps us manage this expansion. Streamlined processing and inventory also allows for significant cost efficiencies and reducing the processing time for customer orders.”