AN Ellesmere Port plant opened last year is to undergo a £20 million expansion.

Progroup has been operating its £80 million corrugated sheetfeeder plant in Ellesmere Port since it opened in January 2019.

The company is now investing in the infrastructure at its site and the packaging manufacturer Krystals is investing in production facilities.

A total of £20 million is being invested in expanding the site to create a packaging park.

The packaging park will combine Progroup’s corrugated board plant with the specialist packaging production that Krystals provides.

This will deliver the maximum level of efficiency in the production processes.

In addition, the two cooperation partners are consistently implementing their sustainability strategy by using technology that conserves resources and reducing CO2 emissions.

CEO of Progroup Jürgen Heindl said: "With the packaging parks model, Progroup's objective is to grow together with its customers in order to further expand its position in the market.

"We are absolutely delighted that we are able to continue this success story at the Ellesmere Port site with our long-standing partner Krystals.”

The packaging park is being constructed over a total area of around 16,000 square metres and will be completed in the second half of 2020. The production and IT systems of the two partners will be interconnected.

Arron Shingdia, managing director of Krystals, said: “Carefully co-ordinated technical equipment and tried-and-tested warehousing and logistics management deliver maximum reliability of supply.

"We can handle urgent needs at short notice more easily and with a quicker response through flexible interaction.

"Thanks to our co-operation with Progroup, we will be able to strengthen Ellesmere Port as an important production site. Our head office will remain in Lincoln."

The corrugated board grades which are manufactured in Ellesmere Port are what are known as Next-Generation products, which are manufactured entirely from recovered paper.

They are noted for having a lower weight while retaining the same strength. This means that warehousing costs can be kept low and fewer shipments by truck to customers outside the packaging park are necessary.

With a working width of 3.35 metres, the corrugated sheetfeeder plant is able to manufacture 235,000 tonnes of corrugated board per year. A series of new developments delivers a very high and constant working speed of 400 metres a minute.

This speed is possible thanks to the highly automated control system for the whole plant. The high-bay warehouse with 14,500 storage spaces is operated virtually autonomously for example with four automatic storage and retrieval machines.

The employees receive the latest operating information live on wearables that resemble smartwatches – either presented as graphics or via the headset.

A total of 45 staff work at the plant.