Al Khaznah Tannery open for business16 April 2007
On the strength of an initial feasibility study, BLC was selected to be the main process consultant. Using the in-house industrial experience at BLC, the critical aspects of the feasibility study were combined with the needs of the client to make the first or 'conceptual' design.
At this stage of the project development, the client elected to appoint Dr Abbas E Elansari as a project manager and, subsequently, architects and engineers were engaged to work along with the BLC process project manager to produce a detailed design for the new tannery. At each stage BLC ensured, through an established project management protocol, that process-related issues were observed by all the other project partners. A primary objective in the development of the project has been to incorporate the best of modern techniques and state of the art manufacturing principles to ensure quality and consistency of productive output. The same high ideal reinforces the approach to effluent and waste treatment issues, using good practice within the factory to reduce environmental loadings at source. This is of paramount importance for the long-term stability and sustainability of the company. Current status Operations commenced at the Al Khaznah Tannery, situated in the centre of the United Arab Emirates, almost equidistant from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain, at the beginning of July 2006. The management team was strengthened in October by the arrival of Stephen Johnson (previously of Pittards plc). Johnson has been appointed general manager of Al Khaznah Tannery and assumes overall responsibility working with Dr Abbas E Elansari, technical manager and Raj Rangarajan, head of the quality department. The tannery is modern and automated with the majority of the machinery supplied by leading Italian manufacturers. The machinery and plant layout has been designed to minimise handling and includes a multitude of conveyors and stacking systems. The design also includes a complete chrome recovery system and a specially designed municipality effluent treatment plant has been sited adjacent to the plant. The treatment plant includes ultra-filtration, biological treatment and reverse osmosis; the resulting treated water will be used for much needed irrigation. The tannery sets out to provide optimum conditions for both product and staff and is fully air conditioned throughout. The workforce is multicultural, with experienced and skilled leather workers from many countries, including Egypt, Sudan, Philippines, India and Iraq as well as local people from the United Arab Emirates. BLC has been involved in all phases of the design and construction, including equipment specifications and layout. The high level of automation included in the tannery design will help to control labour costs and improve competitiveness through manual handling efficiencies. Ongoing support is being provided by BLC personnel in the form of technical, managerial and development assistance for the first year's production. There is a good supply of local raw material consisting of cowhides, camel hides, Arabic sheep and goat, plus Somali sheep and goat, imported on the hoof and slaughtered for local consumption. The material supply has been assured initially by constructing the tannery close to an existing abattoir and by setting up a collection network, using refrigerated transport, with other local abattoirs. Production The capacity of the plant is 3,000 cattle per week (a mix of local cow and camel) plus 9,000 skins per week (a mix of Arabic and Somali sheep and goats). After the first three month period the skin proportion has already far exceeded initial expectations by around 6,000 skins per week. Management are tackling production using a step by step approach. Initially they are concentrating on wet-blue production, which will give time to fully understand the various qualities of the local materials and to determine the best way to market, either as wet-blue or finished leathers. A second phase of operation is now commencing as work nears completion on the commissioning of the drying and finishing equipment. With a constant stream of potential buyers from the main leather markets, including Italy, India and China, trials and development are currently underway to produce a variety of articles, mainly shoes and gloving, to service the world market. Optimism is high at the company that, with a well designed modern tannery and an abundance of quality raw material, Al Khaznah Tannery will soon have a permanent place within the world leather industry. For further information contact Stuart Booth on +44 1604 679956 or [email protected]