UK glass container manufacturer and bottler, Encirc, is set to boost glass production capacity at its site in Elton, Cheshire by building a world-first ‘Industry 4.0-Ready’ glass production line.
The new line at Encirc will have cutting edge technology installed and will see the plant’s hot end (where bottles are produced) digitally connected to the cold end (where bottles are inspected).
Once operational in Q2 2020, Encirc’s new line will make use of in-built intelligent swabbing, laser identification marking and inspection machines, which will be fully integrated to work alongside human operators.
The technology will improve health and safety for operators while also increasing the plant’s manufacturing capabilities.
With closed loop technology linking the hot end to the cold end, via instant digital information, the line’s efficiency will be unparalleled within the industry.
Encirc is part of the Vidrala group which is investing a total of €500 million across its plants in Europe with more than £140 million of that being invested in Encirc’s two UK-based plants (Cheshire and County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland).
Encirc’s four-year plan involves rebuilding all four furnaces in these two sites.
This particular project will include the rebuilding of one of Elton’s two furnaces, which are among the largest of their kind in the global container glass industry.
The new furnace’s increased melting capacity will supply the new production line with glass, increasing the plant’s bottle production output.
This activity, which also includes a significant investment in emissions reduction and abatement, comes as part of Encirc’s commitment to continuous improvement and reduction of the carbon footprint of its supply chain.
It is also at a time where demand for glass in the UK market is strong, boosted by changes in how imported beverages reach UK consumers with Encirc’s 360 supply model driving an increase in UK bottling.
Adrian Curry, Managing Director, Encirc, said: “Glass is a fantastic material, with remarkable sustainability benefits.
"As more people begin to acknowledge this and choose glass packaging, there is, of course, an enormous pressure on the UK’s glass sector to respond and supply more containers.
"This is why Encirc and our parent company, Vidrala, are always investing in the most advanced technologies to ensure we produce more with less waste.
“Continuous improvement is what makes Encirc great. In 2018, we rebuilt a record-breaking container glass-melting furnace, the largest in existence.
"We didn’t stop there though, as from next year we’ll be the first glass manufacturer in the world to take advantage of an ‘Industry-4.0 Ready’ production line.
"Not only will these new cobotic processes help us further strengthen our market position, they will also support us in safeguarding and future proofing our current workforce.”
Emhart Glass, a world-leading supplier of glassmaking equipment, have been contracted to supply key equipment for the project.
Dr Thomas Bewer, Senior Project Manager, Emhart Glass, added: “There are a number of challenges to address in the glass sector, such as increasing quality requirements and remaining competitive while also boosting safety and keeping up with demand.
"By using this new line, Encirc will be able to ensure that glass production is safer, easier and more efficient than ever before."