A trip to Milton Keynes
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting my first can plant – Rexam in Milton Keynes.
What an eye opener it was I have to say. Having just joined the industry, everything has now clicked into place following my visit to their operation.
The first thing that struck me was just how organised things are within the plant itself. Staff are highly efficient and seem to move around and operate as if everything they do has been carefully rehearsed.
However, as you will all no doubt be aware, no two days are ever the same within an operation such as this.
On the day they were producing cans for the beer industry – Carlsberg as it turned out – but plant manager Ian Clayton told me that tomorrow it could be energy drinks, or even an order for Coca-Cola, who are just next door to them.
The process involved in producing the cans was fascinating, and the speed with which they progress down the line was incredible to see.
Ian remarked that safety is their number one priority in Milton Keynes, as it is at all Rexam facilities, and the training their operators receive instils into each person a mindset that they may otherwise not adopt in day to day life.
“As an example,” said Ian, “if you’re drilling into a wall at home, do you wear safety glasses? Or if you’re climbing a ladder, do you wear a harness and clip on to something safe? I’m guessing the answer is no.”
Everyone is expected to leave the plant in exactly the same way they arrived – in one piece and very much unharmed – and it is a policy that is taken very seriously.
Behaviours are monitored and checked where necessary and no stone is left unturned where safety is concerned.
Also interesting to note was the way in which the cans are tracked. I now know that you can tell at a glance which body maker produced the can, which machine applied the lacquer and what time of the day the can was made. This has its advantages, as if there are issues with dents etc. you can isolate the offending machine and deal with the issue straight away.
All in all a very enlightening visit, and a big thanks must to go Ian Clayton for kindly taking time out to educate me on the day.