Fertiliser packing at ICI Billingham is located at two plants on the Portrack Site. Prilled Ammonium Nitrate (‘NITRAM’). from two production units with a total capacity in excess of 1.0 million tonnes/year is packed direct using four integrated packing lines into a packed product store. Granulated NPK Compound fertiliser, from two plants with a total capacity of over 400,000 tonnes/year, is packed from bulk silos in the second packing plant using two packing lines into a different packed product store. The standard package is a 50kg nett polythene sack. All fertiliser is packed and stored on wooden pallets. There are 30 bags a pallet with 6 layers x 5 pattern a layer. A large proportion of packed material is shrink- wrapped.
After extensive trails, evaluation and development of packing equipment at Billingham in the 1970’s, the decision was taken to automate and rationalise the entire packing area at Portrack. In 1979 the second of the ‘NITRAM’ production plants at Billingham was commissioned with an entirely automatic packing facility. An extensive and progressive programme of automating all packing facilities was completed by the end of 1980.
Automation of the packing plants on the Portrack Site has made significant improvements to productivity, packing costs and the working environment. Package quality has improved as traditional methods of quality control have had to be changed.
Management of the changes resulting from automation and rationalisation was a major industrial relations exercise. Benefits from these changes, for operating staff, can be demonstrated.