Case Study - Automated Cooperage, Cambus

Project data

  • Value
  • £7 million
  • Area
  • 48,792 sq ft
  • Form of contract
  • JCT Standard Building Contract with Quantities
  • Programme duration
  • 65 weeks
  • Completion date
  • 01/06/2011
  • Project Manager
  • Blyth and Blyth
  • Architect
  • Blyth and Blyth
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Thomson Bethune
  • Structural Engineer
  • Blyth and Blyth
  • M&E Engineer
  • Blyth and Blyth


The customer required a modern cooperage facility to produce new whisky storage barrels and renovate old ones. In addition to increasing productivity the new plant significantly reduces the amount of labour intensive manual handling the coopers undertake. 

The new facility also allows adjustments to be made to the barrel charring process, which affects the colour and the flavour of the final product. This is the world’s first automated cooperage and is capable of producing 250,000 casks a year. The steel-framed building is single-storey in the operational area, and multi-storey in the office section.


The Project

Situated in an existing bonded warehouse, the new site for the cooperage was originally used for cask storage. Prior to commencement of the main structure, the site was lime stabilised to provide adequate load bearing. The building was designed to provide as much clear floor space as possible for the conveyor systems and plant, whilst being flexible for future modifications. The roof is load bearing and carries the weight of the services and suspended overhead conveyor lines. 

Challenging logistics meant that a high level of coordination was required to ensure that the drainage, ground floor construction and Mechanical & Engineering were advanced as far as possible prior to installation of specialist equipment. Over 40 floor pits of varying sizes were built to accommodate the plant. Externally service runs had to be installed through a live working bond.

The Added Value

The team developed an exceptional relationship with the customer, providing office space for them on site that allowed them to see the building during construction and make changes if required. 

ISG was highly commended on Health & Safety by both the customer and project manager. Weekly meetings were held for all relevant parties and innovations such as altering the permit to dig system were implemented. The project received a Gold RoSPA Award as recognition for the Health & Safety performance during construction.

One of the project priorities was to allow the Mechanical & Engineering to advance before the specialist equipment installation began. To accommodate this, the M&E works were commenced earlier than planned and coordinated to take place at the same time as the installation of drainage and the construction of the floor and pits.


“ISG was a good company to engage with for this nature of work, and we would have no issues working with them again on future projects” 

Mike Horner, Blyth and Blyth (Project Manager)