Posted: Tuesday 28th September 2010

Iron technology leader Saint-Gobain PAM UK has launched a new initiative highlighting its unrivalled ability to offer customers both local sourcing and sustainability in the area of access covers and gratings for highways applications.

‘Proud to be made in the UK’ showcases the company’s status as the UK’s largest manufacturer of ductile iron access covers, gratings and surface boxes for use on roads. These are produced from 97 per cent recycled material, all of which is sourced within the UK, at Saint-Gobain PAM UK’s foundry at Holwell, near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire.

Daniel Débois, Head of Marketing – Access Covers & Gratings for Saint-Gobain PAM UK, explained: “Quality, value for money and performance are of course key criteria in the purchasing process, but two other factors are increasingly important - sustainability and local sourcing. Sustainability relates not just to the materials from which the products are made, but the overall environmental costs, including transportation.

He continued: “Ductile iron access covers have the advantage of being formed almost entirely from recycled material and can themselves be recycled at the end of their service lives.

“Meanwhile, the financial and environmental costs of transporting access covers many thousands of miles from manufacturing plants in, for example, China or India, are considerable – and unnecessary when high-quality products are readily available in the UK or continental Europe.

“Indeed, the environmental costs are exacerbated by the fact that the scrap material used to make ductile iron access covers in Asia is often brought in from Europe – meaning it is transported across the world twice to get back to where it started!

“More and more frequently, customers are questioning this logistics circuit, and our customer base reflects the growing strength of opinion on this matter.

“As producers, we feel an absolute duty to commit ourselves regarding environment and sustainable development, and this is demonstrated by recent investments at Holwell including the installation of dry bag filter units on the cupola furnace – the largest of its kind in the UK – which are reducing particulate emissions by a factor of 10.

“The emissions are now less than 0.3kg of dust per tonne of castings, while the investment has also saved 63 tonnes per year of caustic soda, 28,000 m³ of water, and 655MWh of electricity – further enhancing our environmental credentials.

Daniel Débois continued: “Challenging economic times and construction sector difficulties have not altered our belief in the virtues and merits of manufacturing in the UK, especially in light of the growing difficulties faced by importers into the UK in terms of cost, currency exchange rates, tax, and guaranteeing availability.

“As a clear signal to Saint-Gobain PAM UK’s customers, and more generally to the market, all consignments dispatched from the Holwell plant are now labelled ‘Proud to be made in the UK’.

“We are immensely proud of our work in the design, production, stocking and delivery of premium product while always being mindful of safety at work, the environment, innovation, durability, and quality.

“Manufacturing in the UK also gives us a fundamental advantage of being sensitive to any local market changes and evolution in demand. To produce locally, to constantly adapt ourselves, to be alert to our customers’ changing needs is clearly what customers are more and more expecting.

“Labelling our products ‘Proud to be made in the UK’ is our way of saying that manufacturing industry is still thriving in this country.”

Saint-Gobain PAM UK’s aim is to develop value creation solutions, providing its clients with tangible and demonstrable contributions to whole life cost reduction. The move “from price to cost” that a growing proportion of our clients is making is a very positive tribute to our strategy of innovation and differentiation. The company’s range features products offering advanced performance in areas including ergonomics, water absorption, durability and safety.

Saint-Gobain PAM UK is also aware of public safety on roads, and has successfully introduced GripTop™, a range of access covers with an aggregate surface designed to reduce the risk of skidding in wet conditions, particularly among road users on two wheels. The GripTop™ range meets the requirements of the recently updated Highways Agency reference document HA 104/09.

Daniel Debois concluded: “Specifiers and procurement departments in highways companies, utilities and local authorities are all under increasing pressure to meet ever more stringent criteria in the area of sustainability as well as cost.

“Our role as market leader, is and will remain to offer premium performance, cost-effective solutions, combining durability and safety, and backed by unrivalled customer service and technical support.”

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