Nairn Lino – Post war production plans

This document describes, among other things plans for the Greenwich Plant after World War II.


Investigation of the probable raw material situation immediately after the war has brought to light the almost certain shortage of Jute for a probable period of two years. Assuming this to be correct, we will have to rely almost entirely on felt base products in the printed floor covering trade for one year if not for longer. Supposing small quantities of Jute are available, it would appear that they should be reserved for the production of heavy quality Marbles, Jaspes, Cork, Carpet and possibly some Inlaid. Plain Linoleum could continue to be made in substitute with a felt base.
In the year ending 18th October 1999 a total of 20 million square yards of floor coverings were made in Kirkaldy in addition to which some million yards of Jaspe was made at Greenwich. For the year ended 18th October 1939 we sold Printed floor coverings made up as follows- Printed Linoleum 7,177,161 Congoleum 8,087,888 Brunofelt .844,158 floorcloth? Taking the above figures for a guide an optimistic forecast would predict a post-war demand for printed floor coverings amounting to 80,000,000 sq, yards per year. This is a large quantity, particularly if it has to be satisfied entirely with felt base. Assuming the continued shortage of Jute, a further 5,000,000 square yards of felt might be required for backing Linoleum, malting a total estimated felt requirement of 80,000,000 square yards per annum.

Felt Mill.
Unfortunately, it would not appear a though the Paper Mill is capable of satisfying more than a portion of this demand. In the year to 18th October 1939 it turned out a total of 18,751,808 square yards of felt. It is doubtful if that figure can be improved upon with the plant as it stands today, particularly when consideration is given to the considerable wear and tear of the war years. As that figure, however, does not nearly approach the original estimate of the mill’s capacity, serious consideration of the bottle-necks that have existed might produce some solution. According to original estimates, the possible output should be £83 tons per week of 120 hours. Our actual Tonnage over the year was only 130 tons per week. A separate memo on the subject made up by Mr. Robb is attached. Breaks at the felt works have always been a deterrent to increased speed of saturate- suggestion for improving the quality of our Felt would be a policy of buying higher grade rags, and offset the increased raw cost by using Defibrated Wood Pulp. This would mean a defibrating plant such as is made by Asplund. Preliminary enquiries from the Forestry Commission tend to show that suitable home wood up to quantities of 8/3,000 tons per year should be available round 3/4 per ton (Pre-war our annual consumption of rags; was 6,540 tons and waste paper was 1,587 tons). Our theoretical requirement of rags or other raw materials liquid be rags 18,000 tons and waste paper 8,800 tons. This appears a formidable figure and one, which it will probably be difficult to attain for some years. Wood fibre as an alternative raw material might prove an answer for making up the shortage. Enquiries from Sweden have elicited the information that Asplunds are willing to accept orders for now for delivery after the war. (Mr. Maxwell has file with complete information.) The principle of buying higher grade rags and using defibrated wood pulp should lead to a more constant grade of felt, and help, to eliminate roughness which would be advantageous in helping towards a better finish in our printed Congoleum.

Weight of felt
By running constantly on a single weight of felt considerable saving of time is attained and output proportionately increasing, ‘Pre-war Silver Star Congoleum was run on 16 oz. Dry felt, and Brunofelt on an 18oz. felt, In addition to these two weights, we ran wrapping covers and Chip Board. As a wartime measure, we reduced the weight of our Star Congoleum felt to 13 ozs in order to procure a greater leverage under our Paper Licence. It is suggested that this practice should be continued in the post-war period, at least until such time as our mill capacity is capable of outstripping demand. It is further if thought that we should agree the principle so far as possible of buying for saturating capacity. At the moment this is estimated to be around 875,000 square yards per week (13,750,000 square yards per year). One controlling factor in the past has been the moisture content of our felt, particularly when it has stood in stock for some time and not gone direct from the Paper machine on to the Saturating plant. It is suggested that the practice of storing dry felt in Dunnikier is a serious draw-back from this point of view, and that a decision to utilise an air-dried store for this purpose might result in a material increase in speed at the Saturating Plant. Mr. Maxwell has shown how seriously moisture content affects saturating capacity. Further research on improving saturation at high speed should produce results, for we know that this operation is done by Congoleum-Nairn at 840 feet per minute compared to our 60/80 feet per minute. The two major troubles that face us are (a) strength of felt. and (b) heating capacity for maintaining temperature of saturant.

Coating Capacity.
Silver Star. The existing 5-yard coating-stoves -. 6 and 7 South Factory – are capable of yielding 8,400,000 square yards per year. This is considerably below our printing capacity. Fifty per cent additional output can be gained by taking in 5 Stove presently allocated for 3 and 4 yard Linoleum. (It is unlikely that this will be required for its original purpose immediately after the war owing to the shortage of Canvas.) Further capacity could be gained by increasing the heat available in these stoves. At present minimum heat obtained i.e. from 110 to 180° P. At that temperature drying time for the first face is 4 hours, and the second face 84 in the Floorcloth Works where a temperature of 140° T. is reached. By increasing the heat in the South Factory Stove, either by the addition of further steam pipes or the introduction of a hot air system with the object of obtaining temperatures of around 150° F., it should be possible to attain an increased output over all. Fairly ample capacity exists for 8 yards meantime. It is suggested that a considerably improved face for printing could be attained by additional filtering of coating paints. Very careful attention is paid to this point at Marcus Hook where they have introduced Isolator fillers beside each coating machine. The colour is fed to than by gravity and passes direct to the coating through. The over-flow is pumped back, and passed through the Purolator along with the fresh colour.

Printed floor coverings.
Before considering printing capacity it has to be decided which type of article is most required, and which will be the most suitable to Manufacture in the maximum quantity in the minimum of time. Points that arise are- (a) Goods of all kinds are going to be in short supply; (b) A larger number of customers can be supplied by offering Squares rather than 8/4 (because 8/4 is fitted in most cases to cover the whole floor). (c) From the traders point of view squares are more easily handled and require no labour in fitting. This may be an important point immediately after the war when experienced labour-is likely to be scarce (d) In the factory 8/4 requires less labour for packing, handling and despatch, also less packing material. (e) If it is granted that there is going to be difficulty in making heavy qualities of Linoleum owing to shortage of Canvas, it is obvious that we will have difficulty in making our usual standard of profit. In the past our profit per yard on Squares has been considerably higher than on 8/4. Government price control may affect this situation, but it should be borne in mind when considering the articles on which we intend to concentrate (f) Owing to shortage of Canvas, printed Linoleum would appear to be out of the question in the immediate post-war period. In addition to the Canvas shortage, we will be handicapped in calendaring Linoleum for printing owing to the loss of 4 and 5 Mixing Systems. In the light of these considerations it is suggested that the following should be the priority sequence we should adopt for Printed floor- coverings of all classes-
(1) Silver Star Congoleum Squares. (2) 8/4 (3) Brunofelt.
For the purpose and new North Factory Mixing Systems have been installed. Plant for these systems is already on order, negotiations in train with the Board of Trade for the necessary licence where applicable lifting capacity.

Carpet Square.
At the Moment there are two Carpet printing machine, in existence although only one of them was used to any ‘to great extent in the immediate pre-war years. With our existing sieving capacity they are capable of producing respectively-
North Factory 5,000,000 sq yds, per year
South 8,850,000
The only drawback to the North Factory machine is that it has 88 head in place of the 84 of the new South Factory machine, and is slightly less versatile for dealing with fancy borders. I am quite sure, however, that (with proper attention to design this) difficulty can be overcome and factory patterns produced without undue difficulty. The two existing guillotines, one Shellacing machine and two Carpet rolling-up machines are more than adequate to deal with the Carpet printing capacity, quality of Silver Star Congoleun; Without trying to disparage our pre-war Congoleum, it is felt that it would be to our material advantage to aim at attaining a higher and flatter finish to our goods – something more than that attained by the American manufacturers. In the Dominion markets where direct competition with the United States is met, unfavourable comparisons on this score, as well as on that of design and colouring, were not unknown in pre-war years. A smoother Felt leading to smoother coating combined with the adoption of American technique in printing would be a bull point in post-war sales. Not only in the export market but also for home trade as well.

Mediation of Qualities.
It is suggested that this is the time to standardise gauges in the varying types of Linoleum. It has not been felt necessary to make a detailed list f the capacity for the production of Plains and Inlaids in view of the fact that this has not in any way been reduced by the events of the war, and it would appear likely that it is completely adequate for marketing our post-war demand. There is one exception to this, however, and that is connected with the supply of Fourth Jaspes, which have always been made at Greenwich. Our capacity there enabled us to produce prewar approximately 8 million yards of this type of goods. At the present time our Substitute Jaspe is being made at South Fife where we are running at the rate of approximately 8 million yards a year. In ordinary times when we make all qualities of Marble down to Third, the Fife capacity is only about one million yards of mixed qualities owing to limited stoving capacity. It is obvious that the South Fife Calender can only take care of one or other of these classes of goods, and arrangements must be made as soon as possible to enable us to get back into both classes of trade. There are two alternative suggestions; one is that the Greenwich Calender and its own Mixing System or a new one be installed in Kirkaldy, possibly in the Floorcloth Works. The otter would be to start up the Greenwich plant again. From several points of view this is not very desirable, as it entails considerable expense in supervision, and, in any case, a new Transformer would have to be installed, the original one having been last in the Blitz. The Stoves in which the sticky-coat operation was carried out at Greenwich were also damaged, and it is doubtful whether they could be used without quite considerable structural renovation. The decision to adopt either of these two suggestions would appear to be governed largely by the time factor. If it should prove possible to bring the Greenwich Calender, etc here, in six months, it would seem that that would be the right policy. If. However, the change-over would be likely to take a year or more, it might be desirable to face the extra running expenses entailed by operating the Greenwich Factory, and start up there again for a period of time.
Drastic reduction on the number of patterns that were made pre-war is essential it real economy in manufacture is to be attained. A study of the type of pattern and colouring put up for selection can ensure a well-balanced range and at the same time give a good selection. Redundancy in type of design within our own range should be avoided. Correlation of colours in the different ranges of Sheet goods is essential for the building up of a first-class “Personalised Floor.” trade. The following suggestions are put forward to meet these recommendations. These should be confined to three qualities
In the past certain overlapping has taken place in the patterns, offered in the Kirkaldy and Greenwich ranges. This overlapping kept on being perpetrated because of the realisation that some customers liked “Nairn” goods whilst other, preferred “Greenwich”. Difficulty could be largely overcome by the incorporation of the good points of both products into one article. Presupposing the satisfactory solution of the above point, it is suggested that a broad division should be made. Defining the “Nairn” and “Greenwich” spheres, viz; – In the past these types of linoleum fell into two broad categories, according to the general purpose for which they were used, (a) Domestic use. (b) Contract work. Roughly speaking, the thin qualities wore used for the former purpose and the thicker qualities for the latter.
Correlation of colouring was quite haphazard, and had only been studied to a small extent for contract work. The suggestions for development on the “personalised” type of floor contained in under heading “Pattern books” can only be successful if colour correlation is taken to its fullest extent, which ensures harmony not only between colours of each individual range but between those of all ranges. It should therefore be our aim to treat these all in the same way, and put the responsibility for their colour control in the hands of one branch of the design department. Plain colours must be included with the other sheet goods, for they play an essential port in “Personalised” types of floors. The schedule of Plain Linoleum allows for the manufacture of nine different thicknesses. This is all right for Plain Brown, but to ensure the maintenance of a satisfactory stock of colours it is essential that they be made in a few thicknesses only. It is realised that standardisation should correspond to the existing ranges of sheets. One composite pattern book should be produced which contains illustrations of all our patterned good. T
This pattern book could be augmented by a limited issue of Colder, or swatches for sheet, goods. In the past we have spent a lot on producing patterns a vast number of which were never looked at by anyone. –The reason is that there were far too many of them and they were too big and clumsy. From the shop salesman’s point of view the American type of pattern book. Which contains illustrations of new flooring is a lot easier to handle and for this reason would be much more frequently consulted. In addition to our one consolidated pattern, high-class literature, well illustrated. should be distributed particularly to those customers who deal in the “Personalised” type of floor. Home sales should be set up be treated on a national basis rather than locally.
Our Linoleum warehouses and Travellers are going to be faced with an extremely difficult position immediately no Printed Linoleum is available for them to sell.

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