This year's Best Process Factory lies just a stone's throw from last year's winner in the same category, Kimberly-Clark's Flint Mill. Delyn Mill is one of three separately managed business units which Kimberly-Clark owns on the same 80-acre site in Clwyd, North Wales. It is relatively new, having been constructed in 1988 for the manufacture of paper towels. Production now runs at over 3 billion individual towels per year - rolled and bundled - which adds up to about one-third of UK consumption. With a commodity product selling into an acutely price-sensitive market - consisting of local authorities, schools, industrial users and the like - the need for low-cost production is paramount.
Delyn Mill was designed to use 100% waste paper as its raw material. This, claims mill team leader Malcolm Wright, makes the factory unique in Britain - although it seems that competitors are now, belatedly, bolting on the appropriate pulping and sieving equipment to their own processes. The manufacturing technology is otherwise fairly standard. There is a 16,000-tonne capacity Fourdrinier papermaker, with on-line slitting, feeding vast rolls of material (of various colours and degrees of softness) to two folding machines and a reeler. These latter machines indicate a departure from the original conception of a single-product plant. However the need to cope with the changeovers imposed by a multi-product role demands a degree of flexibility that Delyn Mill has learned to exploit to startling effect.