Orora Glass has invested $200 million in its glass packaging facility in Gawler, Australia over the past five years. In an exclusive Glass Worldwide interview, Greg Savage, General Manager, details recent investment initiatives undertaken despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, including a furnace rebuild and the construction of an on-site, fully automated warehouse. The full version of this article appears in the January/February issue that has been mailed globally and is also now available free of charge in the digital archive*.


GW: What are the highlights of Orora’s performance since our last interview in 2017 and what is the company’s current standing in the local market?

Orora Glass’ market share has remained stable since our last discussion in 2017, although customer expectations around flexibility of supply, quality and on-time product delivery have continued to increase. To support this, Orora has invested over AUS $200 million [£110 million] in the glass business over the last five years.

Since 2017 we have completed the rebuild of G2 furnace, a capacity expansion upgrade, an inspection upgrade as part of the G2 rebuild to Tiama and a new fully automated 30,000m2 warehouse operated by E80 laser-guided vehicles (LGVs).
A key highlight throughout the period has been our people and the way they are supporting each other and our customers, especially through
the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Our people are the cornerstone of our business and I am incredibly proud and motivated by everything we have achieved.

GW: What was motivation for undertaking significant investment during 2020?

Reliable on time delivery to our customers is a key business driver, so we are always working to ensure our business is well invested and our furnaces are in good condition. We are pleased that prior to the rebuild, the G2 furnace achieved ~12,000 tonnes per square metre during its last campaign. Supply flexibility, cost reduction and quality control were the key drivers behind the construction of our new state-of-the-art warehouse, which has safety and quality built into the design.

GW: How will the upgrades assist Orora to achieve its goals?

The recent rebuild provides Orora with an upgraded and ‘as new’ furnace, forming machines and inspection equipment. All upgraded to the latest technology including furnace refractories, insulation, forming machine servo technology and state-of-the-art optical inspection equipment. As a result, customers have the comfort of reliable and consistent supply of the exceptional quality product for which Orora is known.

We are also well positioned to continue progressing our sustainability agenda. Orora’s furnaces are set up to utilise heat recovery within our processes and to maximise the use of recycled glass. We are currently working towards our goal to achieve 70% recycled content for Orora Glass.

GW: How challenging was it to complete a furnace rebuild during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Covid-19 has been a significant feature for all operating activity, including the recent G2 furnace rebuild. A comprehensive Covid management plan was implemented to look after the health and safety of all personnel working across Orora’s sites and on the rebuild project.

Throughout the project, we were well supported by
all our major equipment and technology partners.

Travel restrictions were a complicating factor, with overseas specialists prevented from entering Australia. These teams would normally oversee the detailed construction and commissioning. Pleasingly, using video technology combined with local expertise, Orora’s site operations, engineering teams and contractors filled the void to ensure the project was completed successfully. We are very proud of the efforts of all the on-site Orora employees involved in the project and incredibly grateful for the support of all our equipment and technology partners.

GW: And what are the capacities following the investment into your forming lines?

Our capacity sits around a billion bottles a year from the site, depending on product mix and colour schedules.

GW: How is the business benefitting from the investment last year into your warehousing facilities?

We invested around AUS $35 million [£19 million] in a fully automated 30,000m2 warehouse. The warehouse is equipped with autonomous E80 Laser Guided Vehicles (LGVs) that deliver optimal efficiency, accuracy and enhanced safety. Orora now holds significantly greater inventory on-site, reducing off-site storage and transportation costs, as well as enhancing responsiveness to customers.

GW: Who were the main equipment suppliers involved in all these investment projects and what were your reasons for selecting them?

The main equipment suppliers were Heye and ZIPPE, who are very long-term partners to the Orora business, as well as HORN, MSK and Tiama.

GW: Having additionally co-operated with international technology partners such as Bucher Emhart and Pennekamp in addition to Heye, HORN, MSK, Tiama and ZIPPE, how important are such suppliers to the realisation of your productivity goals?

Having strong relationships with world class suppliers plays a critical role in supporting our success. It’s especially important in Australia, as we are often in a different time zone from key suppliers and several days away from on-site support if something goes awry. We have a strong continuous improvement process on site and our key suppliers are vital to our ongoing success.

GW: In general, how successful has the significant investment programme proven over the past five years?

Very successful. It is a credit to our technology team and capital project managers that all projects have been delivered on time and within budget. We are very happy with the benefits being delivered by all our investments and believe this is thanks to thorough research, results focused investment and our highly skilled team.

GW: Are there any other important investment projects in the pipeline and if so, what is the main focus?

Our plant is very well invested and set up to service the glass packaging market reliably for many years. Potential future investments are likely to revolve around further automation, reducing manual handling risks, meeting any specific customer needs and achieving our sustainability targets.

GW: How have customers reacted to your recent upgrades and the opportunities they present?

Orora is a customer-focused business, which means that we always ensure our investments in the business set us up well for meeting current and future customer needs. Customers have been very supportive of the investments to support their businesses with reliable quality supply of glass packaging.

GW: In terms of Industry 4.0, what is your automation/digitisation strategy and what goals have been set?

The digital evolution is well underway in Australian manufacturing and to make the most of ‘Industry 4.0’, Orora partnered with Swinburne University in Victoria to recruit and train industry cadets.

Under the programme, cadets shared their time between Orora and the university, completing a tertiary qualification, while also working in the business.

Orora also has a strong and well embedded continuous improvement process based on Lean principles. We see the use of data from Industry 4.0 as fundamental to supporting our teams with this improvement process. Our initial work has been around energy, although we are currently working with our technology partners on data capture and analysis across the balance of the manufacturing process.

GW: How important is the workforce in Orora’s progress?

Our people and our culture are the backbone of our business. We bring this to life through our Enterprise Excellence programme and support this with wellbeing, inclusion and diversity, graduate, cadets, apprentices, scholarship programmes and certificate IV accreditation for all our operations team. Our people are the cornerstone of our business and
I am incredibly proud and motivated by everything we achieve together.

GW: What is the company’s approach to increasing recycled glass content?

Orora Glass is committed to reducing the impact of our operations through sustainability initiatives. Increasing our use of recycled glass is a core initiative and something we believe is a strategic imperative for closed loop sustainable glass packaging manufacture.

Orora currently recycles over 80% of all glass collected through South Australia’s container deposit scheme. From October 2020, Orora commenced collecting waste glass from WA’s container deposit scheme, boosting our available cullet. We also source recycled material from New South Wales. One hundred percent of the cullet we receive goes into the furnace at Orora Glass, where it is melted down and made into new products.

We are also creating closed loop systems with customers to improve glass collection rates and reduce waste going to landfill. By working closely with one customer, 350 tonnes of waste glass has been diverted from landfill since the programme began in 2019. Our recycled content is currently 35% and our goal is to drive recycled content above 70%.

There are geographic constraints in Australia that affect access to available cullet, although Orora continues to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to find solutions.

GW: How can further significant improvements be realised to the glass container manufacturing process and the products made by the industry?

Flexibility around run lengths, lightweighting and sustainability work around low CO2 glass manufacturing are all important initiatives for the industry. Orora is an International Partners in Glass Research (IPGR) member and we see our involvement with IPGR as a key to ongoing investment in research and development and collaboration on achieving a sustainable industry.

GW: Are further major product launches planned for 2021 and if so, in which sectors?

We continue to work on projects with multiple customers in the wine segment who realise the power of glass packaging in enhancing their brands. We have numerous proprietary bottles in the pipeline, which will make for some exciting product launches for our customers in the coming year.

GW: In general, how would you describe prevailing market conditions in your region?

2020 was a challenging year for many of our customers, with Covid-19 impacting routes to market through cellar doors, restaurants and cafes as a result of various government restrictions being put in place to combat the risk of Covid-19. The mainstream beer market continues to rationalise and this provides both challenges and opportunities.

GW: Are any market sectors performing better than any others and if so, what is the driving force?

As mentioned previously, Covid-19 has impacted many of our customers. As a result, we are seeing mainstream beer brands perform very well and the sub $15 (£8) segment in wine also hold up well.

GW: What are your hopes and expectations for the business moving forward?

We continue to focus on delivering our strategic game plan according to our four key objectives: Be valued by our customers; Be our Best by being involved and growing together; Deliver quality by ensuring reliable and consistent supply; and Be efficient with all inputs and outputs.

We will continue to improve safety by eliminating high risk tasks from our business, as well as reducing risks through manual handling, predominantly around our IS machines. Digital enablement and industry 4.0 are also key initiatives that will further enhance our customer offering and service levels, as well as ongoing investment in automation.

Environmental sustainability remains a significant focus for Orora and the glass industry more broadly, as we continue to invest in technology, as well as research and development to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase recycled content. Sustainability will continue to be a key driver into the future and we are actively looking at ways to further invest in this area and deliver against our objectives.

Further Information: 

Orora Glass, Gawler, a division of Orora Beverage, Kingsford, South Australia
tel: +61 8 8521 4600
web: www.ororagroup.com


* The full version of this article appears in the January/February issue that has been mailed globally. To increase accessibility in the current environment, the digital version of this issue can be read free of charge in its entirety alongside back copies in the Digital Archive (sponsored by FIC) at https://www.glassworldwide.co.uk/Digital-Issues. To receive the paper copy, all future issues and a free copy of the Who’s Who / Annual Review yearbook, subscribe now at https://www.glassworldwide.co.uk/subscription-choice

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