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Lawson Mardon Can's success.

Lawson Mardon Can's Success

The UK can-making industry produces more than 6000 million cans a year for both the human food and pet food industries. Lawson Mardon Can, formerly Mardon Illingworth Open Top Can, started making open top can ten years ago. That was when the first two piece draw and wall-iron food can line in Europe was installed at their factory in Sutton-in-Ashfield.

Lawson Mardon Can are now a major supplier of open top cans to the UK food market. They have consistently invested in new equipment and developments to reduce costs and maintain a competitive edge, combined with quality and service.

The company specializes in 73mm diameter two piece DWI cans and 99mm diameter three piece cans. Since the DWI plant was commissioned, it has made 3300 million cans and not one has been rejected by a customer for a manufacturing fault.

The two piece cans are made from DWI quality tinplate by the draw and wall ironing process thus ensuring the most economical use of metal and the optimum relationship between can base and wall thickness. All the cans receive an epoxy wash coat to increase mobility and provide resistance to external corrosion before they are beaded and internally lacquered.

Body beading adds strength to sidewalls, allowing the can to withstand external pressures considerably in excess of one bar when containing either liquid or solid products. This ensures that, during cooking, product remains undamaged.

Every single can must, within narrow tolerances, be 0.137mm thick, 110mm tall and 73mm in diameter. It must also have a flange width of 2.64mm so that it is fully interchangeable with any end, whether it is made by Lawson Mardon Can or another manufacturer. Standard ends are produced from tin-free steel and coated on both sides with a lacquer that is suitable for meat products and pet food. Alternative lacquers can be applied and the can ends can be made from tinplate.

At Sutton-in-Ashfield they make 90,000 such cans an hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At that pace there is no such thing as a small mistake - quality has to be right first time, every time. The dimensions and integrity of each can are controlled by sampling at key points during the process. Then measurements are plotted using standard statistical process control techniques.

The success of this two piece line has led to further investment in three piece cans. Five years ago a line to make A2.5 cans was put in and more recently a line to produce 1.25kg cans has been installed.

Both the three piece A2.5 and 1.25kg cans are manufactured from double reduced tinplate utilizing a Soudronic Superwima resistance welder. These can be supplied either lacquered or plain with or without an internal or external sidestripe.

Since 1978 the fundamentals of quality at Lawson Mardon Can have remained constant but their techniques and practices have made great progress. Process capability has improved, allowing narrower tolerances and faster line speeds to be achieved. Computers are now more widely used. Analysis techniques have been refined and vendor quality assurance has improved even further.

As Mr Richard Blake, the commercial director explains: `We expect our suppliers to take the same attitude as we do to quality. They are becoming much more aware of it. Our lacquer suppliers are already approved to BS5750 and we are looking for certification to ISO9000 from our steel suppliers in future. With greater confidence in the consistent quality of our steel and its delivery we could reduce our stocks and get closer to a Just In Time system.'

As a pioneer in statistical quality control, the company's success has been based on high standards of quality and service. This, together with concentration on a limited range of cans, has resulted in a highly efficient operation that now supplies more than one third of all the cans used by UK pet food manufacturers.

PHOTO : Flanged cans passing to the beading unit

PHOTO : Cans emerging from the final bake oven
COPYRIGHT 1989 Food Trade Press Ltd.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Aug 1, 1989
Previous Article:Mandarins for princes.
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