GW: What were the manufacturing capacities at the time of start-up?
Our first furnace is capable of producing over 300 million glass containers a year.
GW: How was progress affected by the Covid-19 pandemic?
We faced many challenges during the construction phase of the project, with some delays caused by Covid-19 but we persevered with the help of our suppliers and contractors to get the plant operational with minimum delay.
GW: Have you succeeded in the goal of developing the most environmentally-friendly plant in North America?
Yes, our plant is equipped with sophisticated environmental systems and controls including closed-loop water systems and best available emissions control technology.
The plant has been designed and equipped to be the most agile, versatile, flexible, efficient and sustainable glass container plant in the USA. We have invested heavily in automation and closed-loop systems, as well in continuous training for our team members.
GW: How important have partnerships with technology suppliers been to date?
Our partnerships with all technology suppliers (in glass technology, as well as in other fields) have been excellent as they have understood our ambitious technological goals and objectives. We will continue these partnerships into the future for continuous improvements.
GW: Do you have plans to develop and invest further in the plant?
Arglass Yamamura is committed to the US market and we have plans for further growth. Our priority for now is to get this first furnace working at top efficiency.
GW: What recycling initiatives are being undertaken to ensure the desired level of cullet?
Cullet in North America is a huge challenge that can only effectively be tackled with the active collaboration of all glass companies, our customers and local, state and federal authorities. We hope to be an active part of this necessary industry-wide effort. For our part, Arglass has designated an area of land next to our facility to eventually install our own sorting facility to get the cullet to the quality levels necessary for significantly increased use. Without higher quality cullet, the task of increasing its quantity will continue to be a tough challenge.
GW: How can the Glass Recycling Foundation (GRF) support your goals?
We plan to be an active participant in the GRF. We believe this is the right forum in which to develop industry-wide initiatives based on active collaboration of all members.
GW: What was the motivation for Arglass to join the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI)?
We believe that having more active members in GPI pushing together to communicate the strengths and benefits of glass is the only way to grow the US glass market for everyone.
GW: How is the customer base developing and what has been the reaction to your venture?
This project would not have been born without the confidence and active support of our customers and the excellent reaction from the market. I have to thank our founding customers and the market in general for the exceptional support and confidence they have deposited in Arglass Yamamura. We will work tirelessly to meet and exceed their expectations.
GW: Has the local community been welcoming?
The support of the Lowndes County, Valdosta and the State of Georgia has been exceptional. We are delighted to be in a community that has welcomed us and our team members with open arms.
GW: Have you reached the desired level of employees and necessary expertise?
Our project has attracted a team of talented, experienced and highly dedicated people. We are now at full force but we are always open to receive additional talented, enthusiastic and experienced people to be part of our success and our growth.
GW: Moving forward, how will Arglass invest in its workforce?
I strongly believe that continuous training is a key factor in the success of any company. Arglass has invested heavily in training for our team members and we will continue to do so. The continuous development of our team is a fundamental element of our business philosophy.
GW: What is your approach towards Industry 4.0?
The term Industry 4.0 seems a bit overused these days. We are investing in technology in all areas of our business, including by adopting technology from other industries into our operations. We are committed to continue to invest in technology that improves all aspects of our business to make us even more flexible, efficient and sustainable.
GW: How important has the partnership with Nihon Yamamura Glass (NYG) proven as the plant approaches commissioning?
The partnership with NYG is a critical element in the development of Arglass Yamamura. NYG is a fantastic partner and instrumental in our success.
GW: Could there be opportunities for further brownfield or greenfield ventures for Arglass in North America or globally?
For now, we are focused on getting this first furnace to operational efficiency quickly. After that, we will search for additional opportunities for growth. We have a long-term outlook and are committed to further growth in the American market as opportunities arise.
GW: How would you describe prevailing market conditions for the hollow glass sector in North America and what are the prospects for 2021?
We are seeing strong demand for hollow glass in many categories and especially for custom glass containers for craft products, high end brands and brands looking to differentiate their products in the market. We expect this trend to continue in 2021.
The North American market has suffered for too long operating as an oligopolistic market with old and underinvested plants and its focus on standard long-run products. This has created an opening for imports from all over the world. Arglass is poised to offer quality custom glass containers to customers that want to buy American-made products that meet their needs and the fast-changing demands and tastes of consumers.
GW: To summarise, what are the greatest challenges and opportunities facing Arglass?
Starting a greenfield project is always a challenge and especially so for a start-up company. We have overcome many obstacles and challenges to get the project off the ground but with the strong support of our customers and the market in general, our partnership with Yamamura and our very talented and experienced team, we are ready to succeed in creating a new reality in the US glass container industry.
With our state-of-the-art plant, focused on flexibility, efficiency and sustainability, Arglass sees great opportunities to grow beyond this first furnace. The launch of Arglass Biogenic, our proprietary glass formulation with its enhanced sustainability attributes has been exceptionally well received by customers and represents a great opportunity for growth.
Arglass Biogenic is a registered trademark of Arglass Yamamura