Verallia’s Vauxrot glass plant in Aisne, France celebrated the lighting of a new furnace in an ignition 'match' ceremony - a glassmaking tradition.

The furnace will supply the site’s three production lines that makes bottles for the wine, spirits and beer markets, the latter boosted by the trend in micro-breweries.

With the €24m investment, Verallia reaffirms its commitment to sustain and modernise its northern French site, a champion in the field of quick colour and model changes, thanks to its expertise in manufacturing complex glassware.

The major renovation work lasted three months and involved 600 people. Its end-port regenerative furnace meets energy-consumption and air-emission standards. It can now run on gas, unlike the previous, 100% fuel-powered installation.

Work has also been carried out on the hot and cold ends to improve working conditions: soundproofing of the hot-end cabin and wide use of hoists to reduce the carrying of heavy loads.

The Vauxrot plant is the Verallia group’s historical glassmaking facility and was opened in 1827.

In 2015, Verallia invested several hundreds of thousands of Euros to adapt its installations to the new dark amber colour.

Almost black with high density, it protects the contents from the effects of light and gives products an image of refinement and distinction.

With the Saint-Romain-le‑Puy facility in Loire, France, Vauxrot is one of only two Verallia plants in France that makes yellow and dark amber bottles, mainly for the beers and spirits markets.

The Vauxrot plant recycles very high quantities of cullet processed by Everglass in Rozet-Saint-Albin, 30km from the site.

Thomas Doudoux, Verallia Vauxrot plant manager, said: “We now have an extensively modernised manufacturing facility to continue improving quality and productivity, essential on highly competitive markets.

"We’ve also improved our teams’ working conditions using the 5S method which helps us to ensure safety, cleanliness and the organisation of the plant at all times.”

The match ceremony, which celebrates in both a festive and solemn way the lighting of a new furnace, dates back to the times when furnaces were religiously blessed. Though secular today, the event still features a ‘godmother’ - a member of the plant team.

The godmother of Vauxrot’s new furnace is Elisabeth Demuyt, the plant’s management assistant.

The Vauxrot facility employs 150 people and produces 600,000 bottles a day.