Ball marks 40th anniversary of its Bristol, Virginia, plant, which pioneered the stay-on tab, latest design can end, and laser-etching of logos on drink cans, now a big part of facility's workload

LOS ANGELES , October 17, 2011 () – Broomfield, Colorado-based Ball Corp. celebrated the 40th anniversary of its pioneering can manufacturing plant in Bristol, Virginia, last week, reported TriCities.com on Oct. 11.

The plant is responsible for introducing the stay-on tab for cans, the laser-etching of company logos on drink cans, and the latest design for Ball’s can ends, according to officials at the facility.

Ball acquired the plant from Reynolds Metals Co. in 1999, completely revamped it between 1985 and 1990, and installed a new line in 1998, according to John Bolling, the plant’s engineer responsible for building and grounds, TriCities.com reported.

The facility, which operates around the clock all year, caters to the specialty market, according to Chuck Perdue, the facility’s human resources director.

The operation does a variety of colors, color tabs and lasering, Perdue said. It generates revenue of about US$6 billion annually.

Laser-etching is not done at most plants and is not offered at any of Ball’s other facilities worldwide. It accounts for a significant part of the Bristol plant’s workload, Bolling said, TriCities.com reported.

The laser-etching imprints company logos on the outside of drink can lids or tabs or inside the can for contests or promotions.

Currently, 218 employees at the Bristol plant make the ends of aluminum beverage cans in five different sizes, two of which are not produced elsewhere. The sizes range from the 5-ounce juice cans to the 32-ounce or ¾ liter beer and energy drink cans, TriCities.com reported.

The metal gauge of the cans is down to .008 from .020 in 1976, said Ray Johnson, an end technician.

The plant has a high retention rate for employees, with four who have been there since 1971 and 20 with 35 or more years of service, said Perdue.

Ball has 19 beverage plants in North America and employs 14,000 globally, reported TriCities.com.

The primary source of this article is TriCities.com, Johnson City, Tennessee, on Oct. 11, 2011.

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