£1m+ investment fully operational at Crown Paints

Posted on 31 Mar 2014 by The Manufacturer

A new filling line at Crown Paints is now fully operational bringing efficiency improvements and energy savings to its Hull-based plant.

The new line represents a six figure investment for Crown Paints which has been manufacturing for over 200 years.

The investment was made to increase competitiveness and the high speed technology has increased filling rates by as much as 75%.

Filling rates have been increased by technology which segments the filling of larger container sizes into three steps and also through the use of a dual filling track.

“We found ourselves in a position where we had a lot of aging equipment in the plant,” said Dave McCombe, manufacturing director at Crown.

“While we could have replaced that kit like-for-like, we decided to take the opportunity to really push the envelope and redefine what ‘good’ looks like for our industry today and in the future.”

After an extensive scoping and development process the new line was installed with assistance from three industry partners in November and the first test batch was run over Christmas.

Since then, Crown has spent time with a dedicated team, fault finding and fine tuning the line to ensure staff are fully confident in its use and comfortable with its ergonomics.

Last week it ran its first full batch of paint.

The high speed line investment also includes new technology for palletising and distribution and has required new infrastructure to link the filling line to the paint mixing and manufacturing process.

A key automation benefit has come from the de-nesting technology on the line which has eliminated the time consuming, tedious and clumsy manual  process of unstacking paint container onto the line.

Mr McCombe estimates that this technology alone has brought a 50% increase to throughput compared to the old technology.

McCombe was responsible for developing the original business case for the high speed line investment which required approval from Crown’s parent company Hempel which acquired the firm in 2011.

An important element in winning approval for the investment was the forecast energy efficiency of the new line which has already shown 25% reductions in the use of both energy and compressed air.

These achievements will translate into long term costs savings as well as supporting Crown’s award winning Earthbalance® sustainability programme.

Crown’s managing director Joe Devitt, expressed his satisfaction with the high speed line investment as it produced its first full batch.

“As a leader in the UK decorative coatings market, it’s essential that we seek to continuously improve our manufacturing and operational efficiencies,” he said.

He also congratulated Crown’s engineering team for their work in optimising the technology.

“The engineering team played a vital role and worked tirelessly to prepare for the new high speed line. The project showcased an extremely high standard of workmanship and even involved members of staff travelling to the Netherlands and Belgium for acceptance testing of the new equipment at the suppliers’ premises.”

Mr Devitt concluded that he was “delighted” to be up and running so quickly.

Crown paints employs around 180 people in Hull and 1,250 nationwide.

Although the high speed line investment deep necessitate some redundancies Mr McCombe said he had been “humbled” by the way in which this difficult reality had been handled by the workforce who he commended for their enduring dedication to the company and its long term future.

Read more about Crown’s recent investment, including insight into the HR challenges and workforce development aspects of the project here.