The Altajir glass factory (Jebel Ali Container Glass Factory) in Jebel Ali industrial zone, Dubai, completed a third bottle production line installation in mid-2003 in just 85 days, but the state-of-the-art facility has since continued an aggressive expansion programme based upon continuing increased demand for their products in the Middle East and worldwide. Overall demand across the gulf is 300,000 tons (t) per year and 70% of production is exported to the Gulf and across the world.

The second phase of expansion began in late 2003 and was completed by late 2005. The phase 1 expansion, which entailed the installation of a third bottle production line, cost the company Dh100m ($27.2m). The investment for phase 2 was Dh550m ($150m), taking total investment in the plant since it was first constructed in 1996 to over Dh1.1bn ($300m).

“The phase 1 expansion cost the company Dh100m ($27.2m).”

The first phase of expansion increased production capacity from 1.5 million to 2.25 million bottles per day and allowed 540t/d of melting capacity. The more ambitious phase 2 expansion has doubled the plant’s output capacity again to allow the production of 4.5 million bottles per day. The new expanded facilities have also meant that the plant can produce a wider range of bottles, they have extended their range to include heavier bottles and wide mouth food jars.

The expansion also included a new facility as part of the plant for the production of decorated refillable bottles. This additional line increased the decorated bottle production capacity from 500,000 per day to over one million.

Contractors and Construction

The construction of the building expansion – including steel construction, cladding, general construction and electrical and mechanical engineering – was awarded to various companies in Dubai. Engineering consultants included Al Nibras Management (project management), ECG Engineering Consultants Group and Veth Consultants. General construction was carried out by Al Ummah Contracting, and Yerevan Steel Construction Company erected the steel super structure of the expansion building. Al Shirawi Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Company installed the necessary electrical and utility infrastructure.

Owens Brockway Glass Containers of the US was retained as an advisor, as they were responsible for the outfitting of the original plant in 1996. All Glass of Italy provided some of the moulding equipment for one of the three new manufacturing lines.

Super Furnace Works of India constructed two new energy-efficient vertical loading electric arc furnaces (with easy maintenance facility), each with a production capacity of 250t. Zippe Industrieanlagen of Germany provided cullet preparation equipment and batch processing equipment to produce raw material for the furnaces.

“Emhart Glass developed new systems to monitor temperature along the entire process.”

Siemens Energy and Automation were involved in the installation of electrical power plants to run the furnaces. Horn Glassanlagen of Germany was involved in the supply of some of the moulding equipment for the smaller volume glass containers to be produced. Struts of the US provided equipment for the decorated bottle facility. Nils and Abbas Trading of Dubai provided the compressed air systems for the bottle blowing lines.

Computer Network Systems of Dubai provided the IT infrastructure for the new expansion. AGR International of the US provided inspection and integrity testing equipment for the new plant to test bottles produced for quality. Kawasaki provided the palletising equipment for the packaging end of the operation.

Emhart Glass of Switzerland is providing three 340 Forehearth systems (200t capacity), gob forming systems, container forming systems (three IS 6 1/4 machines, 12 section triple gob, capable of producing bottles at a rate of 200 per minute), hot-end equipment, cold-end equipment and networked control systems for the facility.

The Forehearth is a long, narrow chamber where the temperature of the melted glass is adjusted and precisely controlled. The gob is a ball of melted glass that is punched out of the melted stream and transferred into a mould where the bottle or other product is formed. All of the processes along the mould line require careful temperature control to make a product that is consistent in thickness, strength and quality.

Emhart Glass had developed new state-of-the-art control systems to precisely monitor temperature along the entire manufacturing process to ensure optimum production conditions from the melt to the final bottle. The plant will be able to extend the range of bottle sizes it can produce from 150ml up to 2.5-litre capacity.

Narrow neck press and blow technology

“The new NNPB-made bottles are much stronger because they have better glass distribution.”

The facility uses a narrow neck press and blow (NNPB) technology, which allows bottles to be made much lighter with up to 25% less glass in each container (thus saving on the cost of materials). It also allows glass containers to be made with much higher accuracy, i.e. fewer defects on internal surfaces and a lower reject rate. The new lighter-weight NNPB-made bottles are much stronger because they have better glass distribution.

The technology uses a metal plunger to form the internal cavity in the bottle during blank formation rather than an air bubble as in older methods. The gob enters the mould at a temperature of 1,200°C, the mould closes and the plunger, driven by a pneumatic piston, pushes the molten glass all the way into the mould. The plunger then withdraws and the mould opens while the blank is transferred to the next stage of production.

CSR Edmonds

In 2005 the glass plant had a problem with its main ridge ventilator above the melt furnaces. This ventilator was not allowing sufficient heat to escape and wind was causing a backdraft problem. CSR Edmonds provided and installed 16 H900 Hurricane Turbine Ventilators which were installed along the ridge (eight each side). The situation improved markedly after that and now the company is considering the adoption of Hurricane Turbine ventilators across the whole plant.