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GWP Protective invest £100K in new manufacturing equipment

Matt Dobson: Last Updated 16th February 2024
Posted In: Company News | Investment xx 31179

New CNC Router Installed

Cutting edge foam conversion equipment enhances eco credentials

GWP Protective have invested over £100K in new CNC equipment at our Old Sarum (Salisbury) manufacturing facility.

The recently installed AXYZ Infinite 4000 router can operate at faster speeds than the equipment it replaces, improving productivity whilst maintaining the high quality of the finished foam inserts and packaging produced.

As such, the investment will ultimately enable increased capacity for the design and manufacture of specialist engineered foam inserts in house, whilst simultaneously allowing for improved management of quality and lead times.

A CNC router in a foam conversion factory
GWP have installed new AXYZ CNC routing equipment at our Salisbury site

Advantages of the new router

Having seen ongoing growth in the demand for foam inserts and reusable packaging solutions over the past 2 years, GWP identified that upgrading some of the manufacturing equipment at our Salisbury foam conversion facility could provide a number of benefits.

After much research, the AXYZ Infinite 4000 router was chosen and installed at GWP Protective’s production site in Old Sarum.

The main benefit of the new equipment is that it can operate at considerably faster speeds than the router it replaces, without sacrificing quality or accuracy of finish. This, in turn, allows for shorter lead times for customers.

There are a number of other benefits that the new equipment provides, however.

This includes decreased power consumption, lower ongoing maintenance costs, reduced noise levels, and enhanced safety features.

Richard Coombes, General Manager of GWP Protective, commented:

We have seen a strong level of growth over the past 18 months, even against the backdrop of uncertainty caused by the pandemic and ongoing supply chain issues.

He added:

The investment allows us to continue this trajectory of growth, whilst maintaining the high quality of packaging produced and short lead times that differentiates us from other foam converters.

High performance foam packaging products

Whilst GWP’s expertise lies in high performance foam inserts and packaging – with our protective cases being used to transport everything from F1 car parts to specialist equipment, product samples, prototypes and any sensitive, delicate, or expensive items – foam is increasingly being used in a number of other applications too.

New router delivery
The new router being delivered to GWP Protective's production facility

This included GWP helping with the manufacturing of, for example, a significant number of components for face visors used by the NHS during the CoronaVirus pandemic.

Richard added:

Whilst high performance, engineered foam for cases – alongside end caps and padding for cardboard transit packaging – makes up the majority of our output, foam is an incredibly versatile material. The new equipment will, alongside the ongoing growth we expect to see, also allow us to explore other avenues where we may be able to help businesses and organisations in the future.

Environmental Benefits

Although foam is often (and sometimes correctly) viewed as not being an eco-friendly material, at GWP Protective we take great care to provide sustainable, environmentally friendly sound solutions.

For example, the new router will be used for the production of foam inserts used exclusively in returnable packaging applications. The containers and protective cases that the manufactured foam will enhance are designed to last over many thousands of uses, helping to eliminate the use of single trip, disposable plastic packaging.

Foam Inserts
The use of foam in returnable / reusable packaging applications can be part of sustainable, long term strategy to help minimise waste

And, whilst the foam produced by the new equipment will be used to help businesses move away from “expendable” packaging, there are other strategies that GWP are offering to minimise our customers’ environmental impact too.

Richard commented:

Whilst many will switch to reusable packaging, GWP Group are also transitioning many customers away from plastics in favour of packaging manufactured from 100% recyclable materials. There is, however, a strong environmental case for returnable packaging in many manufacturing industries, with less packaging entering the waste stream and less energy consumed in the recycling process

More info on AXYZ Equipment

AXYZ is widely regarded as one of the leading suppliers of CNC routers and similar technologies. Headquartered in Canada but with offices in the UK, GWP have worked the company previously when installing other specialist CNC Routers and CNC Knife Cutting solutions at our Salisbury based foam conversion facility.

With experience of more than 9,000 CNC router installs (and growing), AXYZ systems offer excellent versatility alongside their renowned quality. In fact, AXYZ equipment is used by digital print finishers, construction industries, plastic fabricators, wood workers and many other industry sectors / applications.

With specific advantages for foam converters such as GWP – including extended tables, higher gantries, additional cutting tools and even allowing for custom table design – utilising AXYZ equipment was an easy choice.

Foam Conversion Equipment
GWP have previously installed AXYZ equipment for use in foam conversion

Ongoing investment and plans for growth

GWP Protective, being part of the larger GWP Group, was purchased by Macfarlane Packaging in February of 2021.

Ian Heskins, Group Business Development Director at GWP, said:

Macfarlane have been both receptive to and supportive of our plans for ongoing growth, which is a reflection of the success GWP has achieved over the last couple of years. This new equipment not only future proofs the manufacturing element of our foam business, but will enable us to exploit new opportunities moving into 2022

The overall GWP Group currently employs around 100 members of staff across two sites in Wiltshire (Cricklade and Salisbury), designing and manufacturing a wide range of bespoke packaging products. The wider Macfarlane Group comprises more than 1,000 employees, with annual sales of c£225m across the UK, Europe, and US.

Find out more...

For further information on the sustainable foam inserts / foam packaging products that the new CNC router will allow GWP to manufacture, please visit the GWP Protective section of our website by clicking here.

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About the Author

Matt Dobson, GWP Group Marketing Manager

Matt Dobson

Marketing Manager | GWP Group

Matt has worked in the packaging industry for approximately 9 years, having joined GWP Group as Marketing Executive in 2012. [Read full bio…]

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