Bottles as precious as the perfume
The Gerresheimer glassworks, formerly ‘Verreries de Momignies’, supply bottles to the biggest cosmetic brands, such as L’Oréal Paris, Lancôme, Vichy, Biotherm, Clarins, L’Occitane, etc. As precious as the perfume or cream, the perfect bottle adds to the beauty of the product. Do you know that these bottles often come from the south of Charleroi Métropole?
After a few difficult years in 1980-90, the Momignies glassworks were finally turned around by the German pharmaceutical and cosmetic packaging company Gerresheimer. By keeping the historic expertise of the place, the group is continuing to invest in the company by focusing more on cosmetic products.
The traditional bottle is made at the customer’s request
Before casting the glass, the company Gerresheimer makes the mould. ‘We offer the customer a standard mould or make a custom-made one depending on his request. Our teams design the bottle and then design the mould in a cast iron block,’ explains Antoine Goffin, area sales manager for Gerresheimer. Although large groups call on the expertise of Gerresheimer, artisan perfumers like Guy Delforge, established in Namur, have also had their perfume bottles made here.
The bottles are custom-made depending on the customer’s request
The mould is made in the factory. Welder, moulder, polisher… the work requires the specific technical skills of experienced people. Everything is made using traditional methods. ‘It’s only after 5 years that you have a good amount of experience in manual polishing’ a 50-year-old polisher tells us.
When the moulds have been designed, made and checked, the glass prototypes can start to be made.
Outstanding glass, a source of pride for the company
The place where the bottles are made is magical: the glass which is still warm and liquid flows into the mould, then appears on the conveyor belt – the heat of the glass emits an impressive red colour – and gradually cools.
The bottles are checked a number of times so that not one defect is missed
Two large ovens feed the moulds: on one side, the transparent glass and on the other, the opaque glass. ‘There are two manufacturers of white opaque glass left in the world, we are proud to be one of them.’ The ovens, which heat the glass to 1,400 degrees, are on 24/7 in order to keep them working at an optimum level.
Once the bottle is made, it goes to the cold area. ‘We have a number of quality checks: when it comes out of the oven, when the bottle has cooled, when it’s varnished, etc. No scratches, no marks, no dents, no defects, it has to be flawless,’ says Antoine Goffin. These checks demand a high level of knowledge of glass defects and excellent eyesight. ‘It’s a complex job, few people can do it, it requires excellent eyesight and a high level of concentration.’
Screen printing down to the smallest detail
After being heated and cooled, the bottles are then taken to the part of the factory where they are customised. They will be varnished first. ‘Several coats can be applied to the bottle, with different effects (metallic, pearlescent, shaded, etc.),’ he says.
The text will then be put on it, like screen printing. ‘Look at this bottle, the text is clear and accurate which shows the quality of the work. Note that after each stage, the glass is returned to the oven to solidify the process.’
Despite the factory enjoying a good reputation and the high-quality glass that it produces, Gerresheimer sometimes has difficulty recruiting staff that are sufficiently qualified. Being tucked away in the south of Charleroi Métropole, in the middle of the countryside, doesn’t prevent this company from being the region’s top employer. A high-quality, economic gem that the Charleroi Métropole residents can be proud of.
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