Consumers in the UK and other European countries will have noticed that Unilever’s signature deodorant Lynx/Axe is now available in a new package. Coster, a multinational provider of spray and aerosol dispensing systems headquartered in Italy, is among the lead suppliers chosen by Unilever for the relaunch of the world’s #1 male deodorant brand. The production of the new spray cap (codenamed “Dark Matter”) officially started in Coster’s state of the art Barlborough (Chesterfield) manufacturing facility.
Coster inaugurated its UK Barlborough site in 2014 starting with aerosol valve assembly in a 5000 sqm large production area. The operation, which is based on a fully automated production system, has become a benchmark for the aerosol industry, with over 1 billion valves already supplied into UK market.
Following the success of the valve assembly plant, Coster has moved quickly into the production of aerosol spray caps – a natural fit with the production range of the Coster Group. When Unilever, a long term and strategic partner to Coster decided to relaunch the Lynx/Axe deodorant range, the decision almost naturally fell on Coster as the partner of choice for the new spray cap.
There was one obstacle though: space, or a lack of it!
The success of the valve operation meant that the existing production space was fully utilised.
However, thanks to the foresight of the Coster Group, the original site was acquired with a surplus of land, and it was on this surplus of land that Coster embarked on phase 2 of the Barlborough success story.
Thanks to strength of the relationship between Coster and Unilever, this bold vision to expand the site and incorporate injection moulding could become a reality. And so it was, that in less than 12 months, a brand new state of the art production plant extension (4.000sqm) comprising 6 injection moulding machines and 2 assembly machines (with space for more!) was delivered on time and in full.
Supporting the local economy and drawing on resource from the surrounding areas, the new plant has seen the recruitment of a team of 10 new colleagues to run the production cells. Working in close collaboration with the Italian Coster moulding and assembly experts, the Italian teams have spent countless days training the new colleagues and forging close ties and building key relationships between Calceranica and Barlborough.
All of this resulted in the first production from the new facility being supplied into Unilever’s Leeds aerosol filling site on time and in full!
The new spray cap, codenamed “Dark Matter”, is an optimized version of its predecessor, maintaining the same functionalities of the current version with a lightweight design and fewer componentry. Coster participated in the whole development process, bringing its decade long expertise to design with Unilever the perfect packaging system.
As with all product development today, sustainability was at the core of the design principals behind Dark Matter.
Resin weight is significantly lower on Dark Matter than its predecessors which delivers a positive environmental impact without compromising on best in class functionality and performance.
Sustainability was also front of mind for Coster in designing the infrastructure necessary to make Dark Matter.
Each of the components of the spray cap are moulded with brand new, fully electric injection moulding machines that minimize energy consumption. The Barlborough facility also features high levels of environmental best practice in building design and construction, low energy LED lighting, roof windows that enable high levels of natural light and a heating system that re-utilizes air blown by the compressors rather than dispersing in the environment are some of the advances incorporated into the new building. The close proximity of Barlborough to Unilever Leeds also ensures minimal road travel, reducing associated carbon emissions.
Now that Dark Matter is fully implemented, the focus is set on successfully delivering millions of caps every week for the world’s most famous male deodorant brand – on time and in full, with highest quality standards.
If Dark Matter project is another success story, this can only be attributed to the people behind the project, from all involved sides: Unilever, Coster and all key equipment and service suppliers. But a special recognition must go to a man who was part of the Barlborough journey right from the beginning, when the first valves were made in 2014.
David Fearn will be always remembered as Barlborough’s first Operations Manager who built the production up from scratch. The whole Coster Group mourns his sudden and tragic passing on February 26th 2019, just a few short weeks after successfully delivering the Dark Matter project. David was part of the fabric of the Barlborough factory and his loss is sorely felt by everyone in the team.
However, David leaves a lasting legacy by ensuring that through his tireless work at Barlborough, millions of consumers everywhere can continue to use and enjoy one of the most famous deodorant brands in the world.