Roof tile manufacturer officially opens £2 million upgraded plant

Bruce Laidlaw and Andrew Hayward

PITCHED roof tile manufacturer Russell Roof Tiles (RRT) has officially unveiled its new £2 million upgraded utility plant at its site at Lochmaben.

The project was started in 2020 but faced delays due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The facility uses robotic technology – the firm’s first robotic packer – from Vortex Hydra, which has been tipped to improve production speeds, efficiencies, and future-proof the site for the next 20 years.

Russell Roof Tiles described the investment as the ‘most substantial update’ to the site for many years and will ensure continued 24-hour output.

Bruce Laidlaw, operations director, led the project. He said, “Working closely with Vortex Hydra, the original machine suppliers, the specification focused on overhauling and upgrading all key machines required to manufacture the roof tiles. Part of this was focused on increasing the speed of the production line, and installing robots in the packing system, a first for us.”

With orders placed in 2020, then equipment ready for delivery, the pandemic hit and the project timeline was delayed. The Vortex Hydra team was then impacted by issues in getting the required Italian engineers to site due to travel restrictions.

Bruce added, “Eventually, towards the end of 2021 when vaccinations allowed travel to recommence, we committed to the installation programme, on a very tight schedule to meet ongoing sales demands. With excellent teamwork between Vortex Hydra and local contractors, we completed commissioning in April and we immediately returned to 24-hour production.

“We have very quickly seen benefits with much improved efficiencies at the higher speeds, which in turn has helped service the high ongoing demand for our products in our key markets of Scotland and north England.”

Andrew Hayward, MD at Russell Roof Tiles, added, “These major improvements will allow us to increase the capacity. This is an important milestone in Russell Roof Tiles’ long term capital improvement plan to further enhance quality across the business, utilising the latest innovations in manufacturing.”

Russell Roof Tiles CEO Juan Prestamo officially opened the facility.