Pilkington-Interpane: French float plant comes on stream

Pilkington plc and the German glass processor Interpane International Glas today started up their new French float glass plant at Freyming-Merlebach, in Lorraine near the German border.

Pilkington built the combined float glass manufacturing and laminating plant for the joint venture in less than 16 months, using the company's latest float glass technology.The plant, which will be operated by Pilkington on behalf of the joint venture, is the company's first in France.

The new float line will have a sales capacity of approximately 250,000 tonnes a year. Production from the joint venture will be shared between Pilkington and Interpane. Pilkington will sell direct into the French market through its existing sales operations, while Interpane will use its share of the output in its processing operations.

Full-scale production of glass is expected to begin in November. Output from the new plant will help to bridge a capacity gap expected in early 2002 when both Pilkington and its major competitors begin substantial float plant cold repair programmes in Europe, which will temporarily reduce glass capacity in the region.

Stuart Chambers, Pilkington Executive Director and President, Building Products Worldwide, who attended the furnace lightup, said: "I'm delighted this plant has been completed ahead of schedule in time for what is a traditionally busy time of the year. The new plant means that the companies can supply their customers much more efficiently, with a considerable reduction in transport costs. The capacity is well matched to local demand."

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