Behind the scenes of the IKO Appley Bridge plant

Having just celebrated his 29th year work anniversary at IKO, Kevin Green, UK Manufacturing Manager for Bituminous Membranes, gives an insight into operations at our Appley Bridge plant.

With responsibility for managing 65 people as well as the production, engineering and warehouse departments, my role is varied, challenging yet very rewarding. It’s safe to say no two days are the same and over the years, there has been many changes to ensure IKO continues to meet customers’ demands.

At our Appley Bridge plant in Lancashire, we operate a continuous production line for the manufacture of bituminous roofing membranes. These include a wide range of products offering high performance waterproofing as well fire, thermal and environmental benefits for flat roofs.

The technologically advanced machinery can run for 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the capacity to produce up to 20 million sq. m of product per year for customers both in the UK and across the world.

Meeting the demand at IKO Appley Bridge plant

We operate in a fast-moving sector that has seen many shifts in demand and technology.

For example, in the early days, our products were usually required by customers the following week, and manufactured using traditional rag-based materials, so would last around 10 – 15 years.

Now, most customers need us to fulfil their order by the next day and we use advanced polymers to produce superior products that can last up to 40 years.

A key part of my job is ensuring our machinery can keep up with the pace of change as well as the needs of our business. Over the years, this has seen us adapt and innovate, designing and building equipment that improves safety, quality, and efficiencies.

This includes installing new production lines that have enhanced speed without affecting product quality and using high specification materials in the manufacturing process.

We’ve also responded to market need by making new products at Appley Bridge that can help give our customers a competitive edge.

One example is IKO Mach Two, an entirely flame-free application. With improved polyester membranes, this new product gives even more protection and peace of mind to both the building owner and installing contractor.

Raising the bar

IKO is a family-owned business with family values and a strong vision for the future. And as a global business, it has vast manufacturing knowledge and expertise. These strengths are reflected in all our factories and that really helps to set IKO apart.

Our bituminous membranes are manufactured with a focus on safety, quality, and innovation. As well as implementing systems that protect our employees, we are reducing our environment impact.

We have achieved the ISO 14001:2015 accreditation that requires the plant to have an effective environmental management system.

In 2019, this saw us divert 1,333 tonnes of waste away from landfill. This non-recyclable waste was converted into usable forms of energy, including heat and electricity, helping to significantly reduce carbon emissions.

We have also put measures in place that minimise disruption to our neighbours, aiming to go above and beyond our legislative requirements. This includes proactively reducing the number of vehicles entering and exiting the site at certain parts of the day.

Leaving a legacy

It’s been 47 years since I first began my career, and the vast majority of that time has been spent at IKO. Starting in the laboratory when I was 17 years old, I worked my way up the ranks into production and took on my first management role in 1996.

However, being appointed UK Manufacturing Manager for Bituminous Membranes in 2007 has been the highlight of my career and a real honour.

I feel very lucky to work with such a strong team at Appley Bridge. Together we meet the daily challenges of manufacturing and I’m really pleased to have played a key part in improving efficiency through innovation and investing in our future.

I’ve particularly enjoyed helping to recruit apprentices, so the business will have highly skilled and motivated staff to cope with future demands.

It’s been a long journey and I’m proud to be part of the IKO family. I also appreciate the support of the Koschitzky family without whom none of the investment and innovation would have been possible.

My aim is to leave a positive stamp on the business with a successful plant featuring a well-trained, flexible workforce all supported by a robust structure that will take our business to the next level.

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