The 320,000 square-foot manufacturing center for Niagara Bottling in Upper Macungie has a problem – its break room is too small.
Michelle Smith, regional human resource manager for Niagara, said the plant opened with 170 employees and is now at 219. And with interior improvements to increase production, Smith expects to add another 24 hourly employees and three or four full-time salaried employees.
With about 250 workers, Smith said the plant will need a bigger break room, new rest rooms and a training room. The plan is to add an 8,700 square-foot addition to the southern corner of the building.
In January, Niagara had submitted plans for adding a rear driveway, but in February the planning commission denied those plans because of concerns of truck traffic on Schantz Road.
The plans submitted Wednesday did not include that driveway, and planners specifically excluded the driveway as a condition of approval for the addition.
Planners also had concerns about the traffic coming out of Industrial Drive. Commissioner Sam Ashmar, who is also a township supervisor, said he noticed a traffic buildup coming out of the plant onto Rote 100 lately.
Smith said the traffic has happened because the company has just initiated a new automated storage system that hasn’t yet been fully integrated into its existing communication systems.
“We’ve brought in 10 more people to alleviate the issue,” Smith said. “When the system is fully in place, it will make things run much better.”
Niagara operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and runs two shifts, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
What makes this bottling operation different, Smith said, is that the bottles and the bottle caps are made on site. And those bottles are filled with spring water that is trucked in and local municipal water processed on site.
Planners unanimously approved the plans for the addition.