A unique opportunity to see how advanced lubricants are made in Canada, for Canadians.
On March 3, Autosphere had a rare opportunity to tour the Wakefield Canada manufacturing facility in Long Branch, west of Toronto. Tony Fallico, Quality Service & CI Manager with Wakefield Canada, gave us an exclusive rundown of the facility, providing us with a fascinating insight into this Canadian lubricant manufacturing success story.
The Long Branch facility was originally completed in 1956, by what was then, Burmah Castrol. In the 1970s, it was renamed as a Castrol Canada manufacturing plant. In 2000, Fallico explained, Castrol Canada was acquired by BP Amoco (known simply today as BP).
From distribution to manufacturing
“BP acquired Castrol because they wanted to acquire a global lubricants brand.” In 2010, Wakefield Canada, which was originally the distribution, sales and marketing arm for Castrol products in Canada, acquired the plant.
This acquisition placed Wakefield Canada directly in the lubricant manufacturing business and today, the plant is the only manufacturing facility operated by Wakefield in the country. It currently supplies six distribution locations, in Vancouver, B.C.; Edmonton, Alta., Winnipeg, Man., Toronto, as well as Laval, Que., and Moncton, N.B., respectively.
The facility currently produces around 45 million litres of oil each year and most of that product is shipped by rail cars to the distribution facilities. “When the products arrive at our remote distribution locations, they are then shipped locally by road, via trucks that run from the warehouses to the customer’s location,” Fallico explained.
Passenger vehicle and heavy-duty offerings
Passenger car and light truck lubricants constitute the bulk of production from the Long Branch facility, though additional lubricants are produced for the heavy-duty vehicle side under the Wakefield Canada brand, with the aim of ramping up volume in this sector of the market.
From the street (in this case Lakeshore Boulevard West) it is perhaps hard to imagine that this 66,000 square foot facility has 4 million litres of available storage capacity (primarily for raw materials, including base oils and additives). There’s also approximately 1.5 million litres of finished product storage onsite–these are blended and packaged final products that are waiting to be shipped. A 100,000 square foot warehouse is also located adjacent to the main manufacturing facility.
Bulk or package deliveries
Fallico explained that product from the Long Branch plant can be supplied either in bulk delivery or packaged form, depending on customer requirements. On the package side, there has been a trend toward larger jugs and pails in recent years, due to declines in DIY lubricant replacement and continued growth in the professional automotive service sector. This has been reflected in investments in new state-of-the-art manufacturing lines within the facility.
Some smaller distributors, who might not have onsite tanks for bulk storage, also request packaged lubricants which they offer to their end customers.
For bulk deliveries, Wakefield Canada has its own fleet of trucks, and a unique and very efficient delivery model that enables customers to receive the exact volume and type of lubricant when they need it.
An onsite laboratory facility also allows Wakefield Canada’s engineers and technicians to constantly test and monitor every aspect of lubricant manufacturing, from the raw material to finished product.
The end result is a complete in-house manufacturing and distribution operation—one that provides Wakefield Canada with the ability to ensure full control of product quality and logistics, enabling customers to receive the exact lubricants they require, in the right volume, and at the right frequency (especially important in today’s automotive sector where increasingly specialized oils and lubricants are required by most workshops).
Having had the chance to visit, Autosphere can say the Long Branch facility of Wakefield Canada is truly a marvel of engineering and process, offering uniquely Canadian solutions for uniquely Canadian market requirements.