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Zanesville Mould plant crafts frames to make glass bottles

Post Time:Sep 16,2013Classify:Industry NewsView:1136

ZANESVILLE — Did you ever wonder where glass bottles come from or why they look the way they do?

 

The answer to that question is a lot more interesting than you might think. The process, which involves carefully constructed molds, also has a long history of highly skilled manufacturing in Muskingum County.

 

The Zanesville Mould Division of the Ardagh Group, at 1555 Fairview Road, manufactures molds for glass bottles that are distributed to the company’s nine glass manufacturing plants. The molds give glass bottles their shape and durability for many consumer packaging needs.

 

The company was formerly owned by Anchor Glass Container and became part of the Unimould Division of the Ardagh Group earlier this year.

 

Just about anything that is in glass in the grocery store, we make the mold for it,” said Shane McLoughlin, operations manager at the Zanesville plant.

 

The glass bottle molds that are made at the plant are sent to the Ardagh Group glass plants to produce bottles of many shapes and sizes that eventually end up containing everything from food to juice to beer.

 

McLoughlin said the company is the oldest mold facility in the country, and of the top three glass manufacturers in the market, Ardagh is the only one with its own mold shop.

 

We feel that we have a competitive advantage by having the resources to make the molds that are then distributed to our glass manufacturing plants,” he said.

 

Mike Emmert is union president for the plant and has been an employee at the mold shop for more than 25 years. He followed in the footsteps of his father, who worked for the company for 41 years.

 

Emmert is somewhat of a historian when it comes to the company. The original plant was founded by W.T. Barnes in 1900 as Zanesville Mould and was located on Second Street, he said. The company moved to 126 Muskingum Ave. after the first plant was destroyed by the flood of 1913.

 

It’s a very rich history in the area,” Emmert said.

 

After Barnes’ death, the plant was purchased by E.A. Bryson and Chris Roessler in 1921. Roessler bought Bryson’s portion of the company in 1926 and expanded the plant throughout the years.

 

Upon Roesller’s death in 1962, longtime customer Anchor Hocking purchased the plant, and in 1983, privately owned Anchor Glass Container began operating the mold plant.

 

In 1988, the Muskingum County Port Authority initiated the deal that placed the company at the current, updated 202,000-square-foot facility in the North Point Industrial Park at a time when several locations throughout the country were bidding to relocate the company.

 

This facility is the original location for the roll-out program of the port authority in 1988,” Emmert said. “We wouldn’t be here without them and have benefited greatly from community support.”

 

After other various restructuring during the following 25 years, European company the Ardagh Group purchased Anchor in 2012.

 

The Ardagh Group’s goal is to become a global leader,” McLoughlin said. “They had just one glass plant in the United States prior to the purchase of Anchor. They now have nine glass plants and a mold plant. It’s a huge deal.”

 

Making glass bottle molds at the Zanesville mold shop begins with customer requests that go to the on-staff engineers for tweaking and improving. Computer numerical control programming and machine tool manufacturing has helped to modernize the industry, McLoughlin said.

 

Before that technology existed, manual and conventional lathes and mills were used,” he said.

 

The company began transitioning to the new computer-driven technology in the 1970s.

 

This is what is considered a tech-based career,” McLoughlin said. “We’ve got 33 of our 50 mold makers who have associate’s degrees or the equivalent in computerized machine tool. We are pretty proud of that.”

 

The computer numerical control programming and machine tooling have made a difference when it comes to etching special designs and logos into glass bottles, McLoughlin said. A process that once took mold makers weeks to complete by chiseling a design by hand is now completed in several hours by computerized machines.

 

We didn’t take the human element out of the process, but technology has helped with productivity,” he said.

 

The plant’s 89 employees each do their parts to turn alloyed material or cast iron into the bottle-making molds they are destined to become, from the initial measurements to the milling process to the final steps of polishing, buffing and inspecting.

 

Even part of the inspection process uses a computerized machine for precision and accuracy.

 

Each bottle that is made requires two molds: one that processes the raw glass called “gob” and the other that shapes and blows the glass into bottle form.

 

The job is always something different, always changing,” said Rick Huffman, who has been an employee at the mold plant for 45 years.

 

Huffman operates the contouring machine that helps put the bottle shape into the molds.

 

I enjoy working on the CNC machines,” he said. “The job used to be done by hand. It is much more efficient now.”

 

The Ardagh Group’s Zanesville plant has a highly skilled staff with an average of 25 years of experience per employee, Emmert said.

 

Obviously, our skill sets have evolved since the 1900s, with the advancement of the manufacturing process and the use of computerized machine tool,” he said. “This place actually is still what you call a craft trade. It takes a very specialized set of skills to make the molds.”

 

Safety also goes hand in hand with the mold manufacturing process, a policy that Emmert said the employees take seriously.

 

We have logged 1,000,000 hours without any loss-time injuries,” he said.

 

As the Ardagh Group works through the transitional period, McLoughlin said, the company is ready to continue growing and meeting the needs of businesses that depend on glass bottles.

 

The industry continually changes, which is good in our business,” he said. As new designs and new customers come on board, we make new molds to fit their needs,” he said.

Source: http://www.zanesvilletimesrecorder.com/article/201Author: shangyi

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