Case Histories

Case Histories


OTHER SERVICES FOR FOOD & BEVERAGE MANUFACTURERS

In addition to auditing and assessing the ability of glass manufacturing plants in China, Taiwan, Asia and the Middle East to manufacture glass containers for Western companies, GLASSPLANT CONFIDENTIAL is frequently requested to undertake special assignments on behalf of food and beverage manufacturers. These projects are wide and varied, however usually have the same objectives:

  1. To further improve the quality of the glass containers being used by the plants
  2. To create ‘cost-savings’ opportunities.

If your business is looking for assistance with any special project – whether this simply be finding a new supplier, or working with your current supplier to improve the quality of your glass vessels, GPC can help! Read the following ‘case histories’ to see the types of projects GPC has been engaged to undertake:

Case #1 - Large-scale food manufacturer undertakes major cost-saving initiatives.
Case #2 - Baby-food manufacturer moves production of jars to Taiwan to improve overall quality.
Case #3 - Major Australasian beverage manufacturer seeks cost-reductions offshore.
Case #4 - Western Glass Trader supplying Asian-manufactured beer bottles to large craft-brewery requires significant improvement in quality.

Case #5 - Beer and Beverage bottler seeks secondary (offshore) supplier of amber beer & beverage bottles.

 

 

Case #1 - Large-scale food manufacturer undertakes major cost-saving initiatives.

Project: Large-scale food manufacturer undertakes major cost-saving initiatives.
 
Objective:To transfer production of all food-jars offshore (to an Asian-based glass manufacturer).
 
Action: The food-manufacturer had already negotiated prices with an Asian-based glass manufacturer, and engaged the services of GPC to audit the plant to assess its ability to manufacture a range of low and medium-capacity food-jars to western quality standards.

GPC undertook a comprehensive audit of facilities – incorporating batching operations (raw materials), forming procedures, quality inspection processes, palletising and warehousing. The plant was found to have robust quality procedures in place, however specifications on a range of existing tests needed to be tightened and additional manual checks were required to ensure wall and base-thicknesses were more efficiently monitored.

A lack of automatic inspection equipment – specifically to inspect the finishes of the vessels for ‘splits’ and ‘checks’, also raised concerns. GPC recommended the plant consider installing suitable inspection equipment prior to manufacturing jars for the food manufacturer. General improvements in ‘housekeeping’ procedures were also required to remove the risks of foreign contaminants entering the glass containers.
 
Result: The plant was given an extended period to introduce the required upgrades. GPC was re-engaged by the food manufacturer to undertake a second audit, to ensure the required improvements had been made. The glass-manufacturer had increased testing frequencies and introduced tighter specifications as recommended by GPC. Covers were introduced to the line to eliminate contamination risks, and the plant invested heavily in new European-manufactured inspection machines to ensure full automated inspection of the glass vessels. All parties were satisfied with the end result, and the plant became the major supplier of glass vessels to the western food manufacturer.

 

 

Case #2 - Baby-food manufacturer moves production of jars to Taiwan to improve overall quality.

Project: Baby-food manufacturer moves production of jars to Taiwan to improve overall quality
 
Objective:Reduce the number of impact-breakages occurring on the filling-line due to erratic sidewall thickness with current supplier.
 
Action: The baby-food manufacturer made a major decision to move production of its ‘press & twist’ food-jars to Taiwan. The company had already confirmed the ability of the Taiwan-based plant to manufacture ‘press & blow’ ware, however required the services of an independent expert to monitor production and ensure all required quality procedures were in place. GPC was engaged as the companies representative, and duly undertook independent monitoring of the glass vessels during their manufacture. The glass-plant was found to have very limited automatic ‘finish’ and ‘base’ inspection, and GPC was quick to implement additional manual checking-procedures to ensure these important aspects of the container were sufficiently monitored. Due to the previous issues with impact-breakage at the baby-food manufacturing plant, GPC requested daily impact-testing (a procedure that should have been routine), and daily sectioning of a full set of containers so that glass-distribution could be closely monitored. Full metrologies (physical measurements) were also requested (rather than simply relying on ‘go/no-go’ gauges to monitor dimensions). The glass-plant treated the baby-food jars in the same way as other standard food-jars, thus there was an acceptable limit (‘AQL’) of ‘functional’ defects that were permitted in the ware. One of these defects was ‘split-finish’ and the plant proceeded to pass pallets of jars that they knowingly contained a low level of this defect. Due to the sensitive nature of the product (baby-food), GPC requested the pallets be quarantined, and introduced a policy that ensured all defects associated with ‘splits’ and ‘checks’ were classified as ‘critical’ defects, and thus could not be packed.
 
Result: The vessels were shipped to the western food manufacturer and provided optimum performance on the filling-line, with significantly lower failure rates than the previously supplied (western) ware. The glass-manufacturing facility was elevated to frontrunner for future manufacturing runs (with the additional quality requirements introduced by GPC to be implemented during each run).

 

 

Case #3 - Major Australasian beverage manufacturer seeks cost-reductions offshore.

Project: Major Australasian beverage manufacturer seeks cost-reductions offshore.
 
Objective:Engage an international Procurement Company to investigate offshore sourcing opportunities for the majority of its glass bottles, with the proviso that glass quality was not compromised.
 
Action: The procurement company selected a Middle-Eastern glass manufacturer as the preferred candidate, and negotiated satisfactory pricing. The beverage company had received good quality glass containers in the past, and engaged the services of GPC to audit the selected manufacturing plant to satisfy itself that the quality of the glass vessels would match that of the existing western supplier.

The audit of the plant duly found sound quality practices were in place, and a level of technology present that ensured 100% inspection of all vessels through automated inspection machines. GPC detected a number of ‘non-quality’ issues that raised concerns with the western beverage-filler. The glass-manufacturer had limited flexibility with the configuration of the final pack, which meant more labour at the filling-plant to remove shrouds from the pallets. In addition, the location of strapping on the outside of the shroud meant straps had to be cut to remove remaining packaging materials (whereas the filling-plant required straps to be located within the plastic shroud so that they could remain in place whilst conveying the pallets into automatic depalletisers).

A second issue was the lack of undercover storage facilities, meaning pallets of final product would be stored outdoors in the (often) extreme temperatures. This event was likely to cause quality issues with both packaging and bottles.
 
Result: The beverage manufacturer could not facilitate the pack-changes on their filling line, and the potential quality issues that might have resulted from outdoor storage were not compatible with the original brief that quality should not be compromised. The beverage manufacturer decided against proceeding with that particular glass plant, and continued sourcing from the local manufacturer (who faced with the prospect of losing the business, negotiated more favourable pricing arrangements with the filler).

 

 

Case #4 - Western Glass Trader supplying Asian-manufactured beer bottles to large craft-brewery requires significant improvement in quality.

Project: Western Glass Trader supplying Asian-manufactured beer bottles to large craft-brewery requires significant improvement in quality.
 
Objective:The craft-brewery is one of the Traders major customers and has issued a significant number of complaints relating to the quality of the imported bottles. The trader has no hesitation to engage the services of GPC to assess the Asian glass-plant for the purposes of improving the overall quality of the bottles.
 
Action: GPC’s assessment of the glass-plant was less than encouraging, and the findings surprised the trading company itself.

The first impression when arriving at the plant was one of gold statues and an impressive administration building. Once proceeding through the administration building to the manufacturing area, a very different picture emerged. Window panes in the factory were broken and general fittings were in a poor state of repair. The most revealing feature that reflected the poor quality of bottles being delivered to the brewery was the fact that there was no automatic inspection equipment in the plant. The glass bottles were 100% inspected by staff manning two sight-screens which were both cracked and grubby, providing a less-than-ideal backdrop to view the bottles for manufacturing defects. No ‘base’ inspection and only limited ‘finish’ inspection were possible (both of these areas featured heavily in the list of complaints from the brewery).

Staff at the glass-plant were allowed to consume food on the manufacturing lines, and it was noted that during breaks only one sighter would be present on the line, and often no sighters would be present for lengthy periods.

As there were no alternative manufacturing plants, and stock was required urgently by the brewery, GPC implemented a large range of makeshift measures to ensure bottles were manufactured as best as possible in the circumstances. Manual checks were significantly increased to ensure a regular picture of overall quality was on record.
 
Result: The ware was shipped to the brewery and showed a marked improvement in performance when compared to previous production runs. However it was GPC’s recommendation to the western trader that an alternative manufacturing facility be found to produce the bottles in future, as it was clear that senior staff at the glass-plant showed no inclination to improve their processes and procedures. The trader acted on GPC’s recommendations and future production runs were moved to an alternative manufacturer.

 

 

Case #5 - Beer and Beverage bottler seeks secondary (offshore) supplier of amber beer & beverage bottles.

Project: Beer and Beverage bottler seeks secondary (offshore) supplier of amber beer & beverage bottles.
 
Objective:To establish a dual supply arrangement for amber bottles to ensure continued supply during periods of downtime at either glass-plant (e.g. furnace rebuilds, etc).
 
Action: This was the first time the bottler had chosen to source from Asian-based glass suppliers, and after initial investigation decided on an Indonesian-based glass plant that was a major supplier of amber bottles throughout the South-East Asian region.

The bottler engaged the services of GPC to conduct a combined ‘auditing’ and ‘monitoring’ exercise during the first production run of a 330ml non-returnable pressure-container. The plant was found to have very good quality systems in place, and new automatic inspection machines had recently been installed on a number of the production lines.

Some of the plants in-house bottle-specifications were more suited to non-pressure containers, and GPC introduced a number of minor adjustments to ensure the ware was compatible with the carbonated products for which it was destined. These changes also made it conform more closely to the bottle currently being provided by the western glass manufacturer.
 
Result: The bottles performed extremely well on the beer/beverage manufacturers filling-line, and the glass-plant further established itself as a regular supplier to a number of western bottlers and trading companies.