Alcan Rolled Products in Glasgow produces 'silver foil' in a variety of forms such as milk bottle tops and cigarette wrappers, also the heavier gauge used by, for example, Chinese takeaways. Large coils of aluminium strip 350 microns thick are sequentially rolled down to a thickness of - in the case of cigarette wrappers - just 61/2 microns. After rolling, the now attenuated strip is channelled in one of a number of directions depending on its intended end-use: printing, lacquering, waxing, paper laminating, polythene coating, and so on. The range of processes is considerable. So too are the potential problems.
Not so long ago the problems tended to predominate. To bring about the necessary performance improvements in surroundings adapted from Britain's industrial heritage called for exceptional effort. The spur was the will to survive, as works director Bill Morris admits. Multinational Alcan was rationalising its UK operations and Morris's previous factory, Alcan's only other Scottish works, did not survive.