United Glass has launched the UK glass industry's "first flexible production facility", at its Alloa plant in Scotland.
Following a £4.5m rebuild of the plant’s 84 shop furnace, with forming machines re-engineered and investment in custom-designed cold end equipment and conveying and palletising operations, up to four different jobs can now be run simultaneously from two machines. This allows spirits customers to benefit from flexible planning and lower minimum manufacturing runs – as low as 10,000 units – for special containers, enables reduced stockholding requirements and allows distillers to trial NPD items faster and without incurring significant mould costs.
The two six-section, single gob machines can now run up to four different jobs simultaneously, each feeding its own dedicated cold end inspection and palletising facility. Items can be manufactured using a combination of the 12 available machine sections, the only limitation being that each machine can only produce jobs of the same glass weight at any one time. The third machine will continue operating as an eight-section, dual/single-item line.
Each machine feeds its output to a dedicated lehr from which the two or three different containers emerge to be separated into their own packing lines. Automatic separators analyse the shape of each container to decide which one goes down which line.
Bill Churchley, UG’s sales manager, Scotland, adds: “UG can now ensure the UK spirits market can obtain supplies of low volume items efficiently and trial new containers more quickly. This in turn reduces the risk of customers being left with aged or obsolescent stock.”