It was a lot of work for Gloucester Engineering Co. Inc. just building the huge blown film line - with a die diameter of 86 inches. Then the company had to move it from coastal Massachusetts all the way to Lima, Peru.
By late June or early July, the customer, Polytex SA, will begin making three-layer geomembrane liners and winding it onto rolls of more than 23 feet wide. The production line blows the bubble, collapses it, then opens up the bubble to create a single, very wide, sheet.
The winder itself measures 365 inches wide - more than 30 feet. German Laverde, head of marketing, said it is the widest winder ever made by Gloucester Engineering. Company officials also believe it is the widest-ever in overall blown film history.
Gloucester Engineering began the daunting move in late March. It cost nearly $400,000 to move the equipment from Gloucester, Mass., to Lima.
Polytex will make geomembranes for lining solid-separation pools at copper mines in Peru. The new factory in Lima is the third plant for the Chile-based Polytex.
The giant line is the third Polytex has purchased from Gloucester Engineering. The main extruder has a screw diameter of 8 inches, driven by a 1,000-horsepower motor. Two other extruders, each one 3.5 inches in diameter, will product the skin layers.
Gloucester built the extruders, the die and the special winder.
The blown film line can run geomembrane liners with gauges from 0.2 inch to .98 inches. Polytex will run smooth and textured liners on the line.
``This is the first geomembrane line of this size in Peru,'' Polytex President Alfredo Abujatum said.
But what a delivery job!
At the Gloucester plant, it tool more than six hours to load the crated-up components into trucks. One crate was 11 feet high and weighed 36,000 pounds.
The die, massive at 10 feet in diameter and weighing 85,000 pounds - had to be manufactured at another facility over the bridge in nearby Westminster, Mass. The reason: the bridge on Route 128 that connects Gloucester to the mainland can only support up to 80,000 pounds.
Transporting the oversized crates required police escorts all the way to the port in Newark, N.J., where they were loaded onto a container ship bound for Peru, via the Panama Canal.
The sale to Peru reflects the global nature of Gloucester Engineering, said vice chairman Dick Murphy. More than half of total sales come from outside the United States, he said.
Business is growing in China. Gloucester Engineering already generates about 25 percent of its business from Asian countries, Murphy said in an interview at the company's booth at the Chinaplas trade show in Shanghai in April.
``Strategically, we recognized that the rest of the world needs to be a much bigger part of our business. If you look at China, and Asia in general, it needs to be one-third of our business, and it's the fastest-growing segment of the world,'' Murphy said. Eastern Europe also is a growing market, he said.