Container glass furnaces have a minimum life span of approximately 12 years. After this time, the furnace walls start to become very thin, causing them to become less safe to use. It is for this reason that we are replacing all four glass furnaces at our Elton, Cheshire and Derrylin, Northern Ireland sites over the next four years. The new furnaces, which Vidrala is investing £100m in, will be rebuilt to accept natural gas, which will be piped to Derrylin through the Gas to the West initiative.
The furnace rebuilds will deliver a multitude of benefits, one of these being their longevity. The new furnaces will secure container glass making in Elton and Derrylin until 2030 and beyond. More defects will be prevented when the furnaces are up and running, significantly improving operational efficiency. Energy efficiency will also be improved. All in all these benefits mean that the new furnaces will be far more sustainable, and will have a less harmful impact on our environment.
Additionally, more than 800 direct jobs will be safeguarded in the Cheshire area and over 500 in Derrylin. The new furnaces will also secure at least £317 million of value added in the UK each year.
The furnace rebuilds commenced in Elton on furnace B in January this year. This furnace has now been officially lit up, enabling us to reach a key milestone in the rebuild process. The full Elton project also saw a range of other equipment replaced and upgraded including, the ISS machines, cold end inspection equipment and forehearths. All furnace rebuilds will be carried out using the latest manufacturing technologies.
Here’s what our furnace rebuild plan looks like:
· January - March 2018: Elton furnace B
· 2019: Derrylin Furnace F
· 2020: Elton Furnace A
· 2021: Derrylin Furnace C