Clayton Glass gears up for factory move

At some point over the next year or so Clayton Glass will be relocating a couple of miles away, as the site we are currently on is developed for housing. Well that move seems a little closer now as we have now agreed to formally rent the new building in the interim period whist the various legal and planning processes run their course. For the last few weeks we have therefore had access to the new site and are busy clearing and fixing in preparation for this hugely exciting move.

New Factory Fit outThe 75,000 square foot layout has long since been planned from scratch, so unlike our current site the work will flow in a logical and orderly fashion through the 200 metre long factory. This site will house both SMARTGLASSTM and IG production under one roof, although to allow room for growth we are retaining our North Shields roof site even after the move is completed.

Most excitingly however, as the services and new substation are being installed we are finally able to commit to purchases on equipment.  This is an area where we have put in a great amount of thought and research in order to engineer out many of the problems we naturally get from some of the equipment that is ready for an update. In total we will be investing in excess of £1.5M in new plant and machinery including –

Cutting table – Hegla Autoloader

Picture1Similar to the two tried and tested models we’ve purchased over the past few years, with auto-load carriage,  a choice of 8 glass racks, high speed cutting and edge deletion. But as this machine will primarily feed to toughening plant it has built in laser etching meaning the kite marks no longer need manually applying so will always be clear and smudge free. With the sequence numbers also being laser’d on rather than by hand in special pen, both of these significantly remove the potential for glass contamination.  Because the table knows the orientation of the finished pane and its partner, the Kite marks can be applied so as to be assembled in matching corners in the finished unit.

 Furnace 4.2 x 2.5 TBC

We’re in the final process of making our choice here, but given the latest convection techniques and enhanced zonal control either of the two contenders represent a leap in toughening speeds and visual quality. The new machine will be able to attain throughput volumes of around twice the speed of our current furnace, with optically clearer and flatter glass.

IG Line, Bystronic

Picture2

As we saw at Glasstech Dusseldorf, this new high speed IG line has many new features which just weren’t available when we purchased our current Lisec lines. The main body of the 45m long vertical line abandons rollers in favour of air flotation to support the glass in transport, so the potential for the internal roller and dust marks we see from time to time is eradicated. The line has inbuilt glass and coating side detection, so a unit can’t be assembled the wrong way around and the glass is scanned for defects in 3 separate ways before assembly. Perhaps for us one of the best advances is the way the glass is transported during the gunning stage, historically fully automated IG lines have used tracks to grip and support the side of the units whilst the wet seal is applied,  whilst in our new model the glass sits in a ‘V Belt’. This means there is no direct contact with the face of the glass at any point, so less risk of surface contamination and a naturally cleaner unit is produced.

 

At Clayton Glass we continually strive to improve the value of what we offer to the market as a company – in terms of customer service, value for money and the quality of our product. We’re determined then that in this latest investment cycle there are some absolute clear wins for us in terms quality engineering our product, ensuring that we remain ahead of our competitors as a large part of our manufacturing problems can literally be consigned to the history bin with these new technologies.

Whilst the timescale for the move is yet to be pinned down exactly, the equipment above we expect to have installed by the end of summer this year. Given it’s all brand new high performance kit, these 3 items alone will be able to fulfill around 70% of our current IG demand and will be fully installed, commissioned and in full flow before we so much as unplug a kettle here. This together with a 12 month window from the point the legals are completed we hope will ensure the move goes as smoothly as these things can, most probably over the quiet Christmas period into early winter 2016.

Factory aside, from the office perspective we’ll have much more space to grow into and we aim to markedly improve the welfare facilities for both factory and office staff alike, with improved restrooms, staff canteen and extended welfare facilities. Our aim for the move is not just a physical one, but to offer a class leading working environment on which we can build an even stronger company culture, enhance the brand especially of our roof products, and cement our futures for decades to come. On this new platform we’re confident we can build a £25M manufacturing facility, in the North East over the next few years, and we will keep you closely informed as we progress.

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