A £30m investment that will secure the long-term high quality glass supply in the UK is being made at Saint-Gobain’s glass manufacturing factory in Eggborough, East Yorkshire.
This is a major milestone in the company’s history and represents the largest industrial investment in the UK by the Saint-Gobain Group since the Eggborough plant was built in 2000. It is also one of the largest single investments made in manufacturing capability in the UK in the glass and window industries in 2021.
The complex engineering and construction programme will see the complete re-build and installation of a state-of the-art float glass furnace. The upgrade will provide greater automation and enhanced control systems, with the use of the very latest equipment and integrated digital technologies, while minimising both the energy used for glass production and emissions from the process. The enlarged capacity furnace will replace the existing furnace which has reached the end of its design life, after manufacturing a ‘ribbon of glass’ long enough to stretch the length of the UK from Lands End to John O’Groats more than 130 times.
Due to be completed by late summer, the investment programme also includes upgrades to other areas of the factory. The project will result in securing the long-term supply of high-performance glass that meets the stringent quality requirements of customers in the UK.
The project has been several years in development and planning to ensure continuity of supply for customers throughout the construction process. This has involved a high level of stock build-up in advance and imports of glass from Saint-Gobain’s sister plants in Europe which will help to fulfil orders throughout the project.
The glass coating line and lamination line continue to operate
In addition, the glass coating line and lamination line at Eggborough are continuing to operate as normal to produce the market leading PLANITHERM® range of products including PLANITHEM® TOTAL+ and PLANITHERM® ONE T.
Supply of solar controlled glass such as the SKN and XTREME ranges, as well as patterned glass, mirrored products, self-cleaning glass, tinted products, and lower-iron glass are also unaffected as these are already manufactured at Saint-Gobain Group plants across Europe.
Site preparation works have been underway at Eggborough for several months, creating a contractor village and making the site ready to receive the components and specialist equipment. The project requires 250 contractor personnel from 30 companies from the UK and across Europe who are working to dismantle the existing furnace and build and commission the new one.
The components for the new furnace are already on site and include more than 7000 tonnes of specialist ‘refractories’: the building blocks used in the construction of the furnace. Many of these refractories are manufactured by Saint-Gobain’s own manufacturing business, illustrating the expertise that exists within the group. Saint-Gobain has a long history of glass making, stretching back over 350 years. It is very experienced in delivering these complex high-value engineering projects, supported by highly skilled in-house technical and engineering teams, all of whom will be operating in a COVID-19 compliant way.
The new furnace will use less energy and will help the company to optimise manufacturing efficiency, increase production capacity, ensure consistent high quality glass manufacturing and further enhance Saint-Gobain’s already market-leading environmental and sustainability credentials.
This will contribute to the Saint-Gobain Group’s commitment to achieving ‘net-zero carbon’ of its global business operations, and deliver its global strategic purpose which the Group has recently defined as ‘Making the World a Better Home’, in recognition of the need to protect the planet and invent a more sustainable future.
The new facility is strategically important to support and serve the UK window industry with domestically manufactured high-performance products developed specifically to meet the needs of the UK window industry. It demonstrates Saint-Gobain’s commitment to the long-term future of glass manufacturing in the UK and confidence in the wider construction industry.