No compromise on quality
A more efficient process gives O-I many benefits
Chances are that you held an Owens-Illinois (O-I) product in your hands at some time. The originally American company is in fact the producer of the bottles of, among others, Heineken and Grolsch. On a yearly basis, a billion bottles of brown and green glass are produced at the production location in Leerdam, with the European beer market as their destination. These enormous numbers are accompanied by strict quality requirements on the part of the end customer and this, in turn, requires a tight production process. However, could there still be room for improvement in terms of efficiency? Together with Saint Gobain Abrasives and itsme, O-I rose to that challenge.
O-I and itsme share a long history when it comes to supplying electrotechnical components. This collaboration has been extended to the mechanical field for just under a year now. itsme is eager to look at the processes there as well, in order to always be able to offer the best solutions for a given situation.
Thus, it became clear that during the moulding process molten glass particles ended up on the hoses that control the moulds. Therefore, itsme suggested to apply stainless steel sleeves around the hoses, thus preventing early wear and tear. For O-I this resulted in savings both in replacement costs and in the hours needed by the Technical Service department for the replacement of the hoses.
Another improvement in the moulding process concerned the moulds themselves. It is evident that all the products from the same series are designed in an identical way. This is preceded by a strict and extensive quality process, because any minuscule deviation – outer dimensions, thickness of the glass, embossed logo, content – is visible. For major players such as Heineken, for which the Leerdam plant produces a few million bottles a day, this is unacceptable. O-I does everything it can to avoid deviations, for example by routinely checking and repairing the moulds in which the bottles are moulded.
A team of about 20 employees is constantly working on this. For this purpose, they have been using various sanding applications of the highest quality for years, so nothing much was to be gained there. But what if you can supply that same excellent quality on better terms? Being an independent organisation, it is possible for itsme to always search for the best brand for any customer-specific situation; in this case, they called on the expertise of Saint Gobain Abrasives, global leader in the production of abrasives that provide top quality together with innovative and affordable solutions for the user. Saint Gobain carries the Norton and Flexovit brands and it was precisely with these that an improvement could be made.
Efficiency and savings
To begin with, Saint Gobain focused on the production of an abrasive that exactly met O-I’s requirements. The product properties were refined for as long as needed until the lamellae pins possessed the exact same grit coarseness, rigidity and dimensions that O-I had already been used to for years. Subsequently, Saint Gobain took a critical look at the production process. This resulted in shorter delivery times, lower minimal order quantities and lower prices as well as a cost reduction for O-I of 40%.
Meanwhile, at O-I the new abrasives are already in use for a number of months to great satisfaction. To the team responsible for cleaning the moulds it seems as if it had never been any other way. And that is exactly what this collaboration between Saint Gobain, O-I and itsme is all about: the production process itself runs as smoothly as before, but in this case significant steps have been taken as for efficiency.
|The story of Owens-Illinois begins with a major innovation in industrial automation. In 1903 O-I was the first to introduce a groundbreaking machine for blowing glass bottles into the market. |
In 2004 BSN Glasspack was taken over, strengthening O-I’s position on a European level as well. The company has more than 22,000 employees worldwide in 79 factories, spread over 21 countries. In the Netherlands, O-I employs 300 people, divided over the product locations in Leerdam and Maastricht. The head office of the organisation is located in Perrysburg, Ohio (USA).