Australian glass packaging company Orora has completed a successful furnace rebuild – despite the challenges of the Covid pandemic.

The container glass manufacturer completed the G2 rebuild at its Gawler, South Australia site, earlier this year, just as the pandemic began to impact.

Due to changes in working conditions and lockdown, key vendors and commissioning engineers were unable to visit the site. Despite this, the rebuild was only delayed by two weeks and the furnace was successfully commissioned in spring this year.

A second, $10 million forming line was also upgraded, which will add 10 million bottles to its annual capacity.

Orora’s glass division manufactures bottles for all beverage types from beer, wine, cider and alcoholic ready-to-drink styles to carbonated soft drinks and juices.

The organisation has invested $200 million in the Gawler facility in the past five years, including the G2 furnace rebuild, capacity expansions, mould insourcing, system upgrades and an on-site, automated warehouse capacity.

It completed the $35 million warehouse in December last year. It means Orora can hold inventory onsite and reduce offsite pallet storage and transport costs.

Final commissioning of autonomous pallet stacking vehicles was completed earlier this year.

The investment is expected to deliver a return of approximately 15% by reducing the cost of offsite storage and cartage.

The group is also set to increase the amount of recycled glass it uses. It currently recycles approximately 80% of South Australia’s Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) glass volumes.

From October, it will recycle a high proportion of the Western Australian CDS glass volumes, transporting the recycled glass to South Australia.

This is expected to increase Orora’s recycled glass content from 25% to 35%.