When Europe’s leading packaging manufacturer, Amcor Flexibles, needed to increase the storage capacity of one of its Bristol site’s it turned to Braby, the UK’s largest manufacturer of silos, tanks and specialist vessels, for the solution.
Amcor Flexibles manufacture medical film packaging at Winterbourne, near Bristol. As part of a facility upgrade and expansion the site required 360 tonnes of additional storage capacity. The site already had 18, 40 tonne aluminium silos. Due to site and factory restrictions it was not possible to manufacture an additional 9 silos to operate alongside the existing 18. Consequently, Braby suggested increasing the capacity of the original silos to 60 tonnes each, by adding a 4 metre cylindrical section to each silo.
The process of increasing silo capacity for Amcor Flexibles was not as simple as it first looked. There were complex design and structural considerations for the silos; as well as a considerable logistical task for both Amcor Flexibles, to ensure the silos were made available on schedule, and for Braby to ensure that the silos were modified and returned to Amcor Flexibles in the shortest possible time-frame.
A major obstacle was Amcor Flexibles’ requirement to modify all 18 silos, over 6 weeks with no factory down time – a potential logistical nightmare. All 18 silos had to be modified back at Braby’s factory a few miles away.
The 18 silos lie in a rectangle of 3 X 6 alongside the factory. Braby worked closely with Amcor Flexibles and arranged to remove the first 3 silos within one working day and then return the modified silos within a week. These silos were re-installed and at the same time another 3 silos were removed, again all within a working day. This meant that Amcor Flexibles would lose 1/3 of its storage capacity over the course of 6 weeks. It was vital that Amcor Flexibles and Braby worked to a tight and accurate time schedule to ensure that raw material continued to feed into their manufacturing process to maintain production. Both Braby and Amcor Flexibles managed to keep to this schedule and consequently Amcor Flexibles’ production was not disrupted, which is a fine testament to the production scheduling skills of both organisations.
Back at Braby’s manufacturing facility in the heart of Bristol, engineers used their 3D modelling and detailed design calculations to ensure that the modified silos would cope with the additional loads.
It was not possible to simply add a cylindrical section to the top of the silo as the silo base-section and the existing loadcells would not have been able to cope with the increased load. The base of a silo, which supports the majority of the weight, is a vital component of a silo’s design – consequently silos are manufactured using thicker material at the base than at the top. As it was not economical to replace the entire base section, Braby designed and welded into place a series of structural supports.
In addition, due to the additional load constraints, engineers could not add the 4 metre section to the top of the silo as the lower cylindrical section was not thick enough to take the increased load. Instead, the segment was inserted into the lower middle section of the silo where the additional design requirements were stiffening from the base section to the new sections, a repositioned man hole and an additional segment of fill pipe line.
The load cells supporting Amcor Flexibles’ silos also needed to be updated and replaced. Braby installed systems from Applied Weighing based in Reading who were also involved in recalibrating the new systems after completion of the site work.
After only 6 weeks, all 18 silo’s were fully operational with no down-time – as requested by Amcor Flexibles. The precision planning and logistics required by both Amcor Flexibles and Braby were immaculate and ensured that the project ran like clock work. Andreij Duma, Project Manager at Amcor Flexibles said “increasing the raw material capacity of the factory to 720 tonnes in such a short space of time was an amazing feat. We were able to work very closely with Braby to ensure the smooth installation and removal of 6 silos at a time. We were also very impressed with the cost effective and innovative designs developed by Braby’s in-house engineers, and look forward to working with them again in the future”.