HOUSTON, April 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Longhorn Glass in Houston resumes full production today after shutting down bottle making in late January to implement a $40 million capital upgrade. The project involves a re-bricking of the very heart of the plant – its furnace – and features expanded production capacity with one of the fastest glass-forming machines in the world.
The plant supplies bottles to Anheuser-Busch's Houston brewery, including those for Budweiser and Bud Light.
"The heart of the glass-making process is the furnace," said Vince Kozul, plant manager, "and we are doing a complete re-bricking and plant overhaul. In the furnace our raw materials – sand, soda ash, limestone and recycled glass – are heated to 2800 degrees Fahrenheit, liquefied, and then formed into beer bottles."
The factory stopped production on Jan. 24 and began a staggered start-up on March 20 before a complete return to full production this week.
Longhorn had been producing approximately 820 million beer bottles a year, Kozul said, and the project includes a production expansion raising the total capacity by 70 million bottles per year, or about 8.5 percent. The project represents a $40 million investment by Anheuser-Busch in Houston.
Kozul said the plant overhaul will enable it to increase production from 600 bottles per minute to 700 bottles per minute on one of the lines.
"It will be one of the largest and one of the fastest bottle-forming machines in the world," he said.
Longhorn supplies approximately 90 percent of the A-B Houston brewery's requirements for the standard 12 oz. bottle and supplies about 65 percent of the brewery's total glass requirements.
"A team of very dedicated employees has been engineering this project for more than two years to get us to this point," said Rick Wohlfarth, general manager of A-B's Houston brewery, which includes responsibility for the glass operation at Longhorn.
Longhorn Glass, 4202 Fidelity St. on the east side of Houston in Jacinto City, employs nearly 200 employees. There has been a glass plant on this site for more than 40 years. The plant was closed by the previous owners in 1997 and reopened by Anheuser-Busch in 2001.
Based in St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch is the leading American brewer, holding a 48.3 percent share of U.S. beer sales to retailers. The company brews the world's largest-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light. Anheuser-Busch also owns a 50 percent share in Grupo Modelo, Mexico's leading brewer. Anheuser-Busch is a major manufacturer of aluminum cans and has been a leading aluminum recycler for more than 30 years. The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the leading global brewer, and continues to operate under the Anheuser-Busch name and logo. For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com.