Rexam inaugurated its new beverage canmaking plant at Widnau in eastern Switzerland today.

The facility built adjacent to Rauch Trading, which fills cans for Red Bull, has taken 30 months to construct and represents an investment of £115 million (US$174m) over three years.

Today the first of three production lines was started up in the presence of Rexam’s chief executive Graham Chipchase. When completed the three lines will have capacity to produce 2.2 billion slim and sleek cans a year.

Chipchase commented: “We aim to build strong, sustainable relationships with our customers. Our investment in this cutting edge facility in Widnau epitomises that goal by supporting one of our major customers with their growth ambitions.

“In addition the location, wall-to-wall with the filling partner, illustrates our commitment to sustainable operations through minimising logistics, freight costs and environmental effects. Rexam are proud to have built this plant in the canton of St Gallen, Switzerland, and to welcome Widnau to our worldwide network.”

In a release Rexam said that due to challenges of space constraints and proximity to other businesses, it implemented innovative solutions to achieve effective, yet sustainable, operations. Examples include the plant washer being positioned on a mezzanine floor and the fully automated warehouse being installed on the plant’s roof. To restrict vibration from machinery, both the cupping press and bodymakers have been placed on 120 tonne blocks of concrete supported by large springs.

Iain Percival, sector director for Rexam Europe, added, “Throughout both the construction process and the training of the plant’s new employees, the team at Widnau has drawn on the experience of their Rexam colleagues at other plants and offices across Europe.

“Just as Rexam tries to foster a collaborative working relationship with customers, we do encourage collaborative working internally as well, working together as a One Rexam team. This shared experience has resulted in the delivery of a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that will deliver quality, speed and increased environmental efficiency, while maintaining focus on the safety of operations at all times.”

The Widnau beverage can plant is the first of its type to be built in Switzerland and is similar to the plant that Rexam operates at Ludesch in Austria, which also supplies cans from four lines to a Rauch canning plant.

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