Viridian: investment to regenerate construction industry

New Zealand“s Viridian Glass has completed the first of a series of significant investments, scheduled to be carried out over the next few years, to allow the manufacturing and construction industry …

New Zealand“s Viridian Glass has completed the first of a series of significant investments, scheduled to be carried out over the next few years, to allow the manufacturing and construction industry to take advantage of the increasing demand for energy efficient glass products, with the opening of its new innovative glass processing factory at Highbrook. The new Highbrook glassworks of Viridian is the only purpose built, fully automated glass processing factory in New Zealand, as well as being the most advanced factory of its type in the world, thanks to the use of technology software to manage continuous glass production. According to Alan Westwood, Viridian New Zealand general manager, “The factory represents a significant investment in New Zealand and is stage one of a planned investment programme which will include new factories and equipment throughout the country.” Viridian has also scheduled to develop the adjacent site at Highbrook in the next three years to keep up with the expected demand for energy efficient glass in commercial buildings. The company is also proposing to open another factory in Wellington, to start construction in 2010. “Despite a difficult economy, we“ve invested in and are committed to the New Zealand market,” saysWestwood. The software used by the glassworks combines all variations of production requirements with speeds, programmes and timings; thereby supplying a continuous flow of work, as well as identifying The software also identifies where each piece of glass is in the system, thus enabling Viridian“s factory to handle very large volumes of glass of different sizes. Another benefit from the software is the reduction in handling: in fact, glass was previously handled up to 50 times, from manufacturing, to the time it arrived with the customer. Now, glass at Viridian is handled only once providing greater efficiency, quality and workplace safety. “The skills required to operate the factory is another major change for the industry. The technology involved means that we are investing in up skilling our operators – this is good for the labour force and for the economy We are also working closely with the industry body JITO (Joiner Industry Training Organisation) to address the current skills shortage,” says Westwood. According to Maurice Williamson, Minister for Building and Construction, “This new factory provides unique employment opportunities for skilled technicians to ensure a top-quality product. This Government welcomes such initiatives to improve market conditions and to spark innovation. We are seeking to help the building industry by reducing regulations, cutting red tape and creating an environment in which business can prosper. I commend Viridian for working closely with the Joinery Industry Training Organisation.”