Jul 07, 2016
Sheer dedication put Nippon Gohsei UK on record trail

Nippon Gohsei UK has said farewell to one of the key group of workers involved in setting up its factory at Saltend Chemicals Park, where world leading food packaging product Soarnol is produced.

Malcolm McNiven was the sixth employee to be recruited after the Japanese owners chose Hull as their European manufacturing and supply base.

The factory was still being built and there were many months of test runs ahead as Mr McNiven and Japanese engineers fine-tuned the plant for the start of commercial production in 2004.

As senior mechanical engineer, he was impressed by the sheer dedication of the Japanese in getting the factory up and running.

“Soarnol production is complex, requiring huge investment, and they were happy to give up holidays, even sleep in the offices, to get the job done as quickly possible.”

The plant he helped to create is now turning out record 17,000 tonnes of Soarnol a year for European markets.

It is distributed in pellet form for melting into film for food packaging and for many other uses. It provides an oxygen barrier preserving flavour and freshness.

Latterly, Mr McNiven has been involved in plans to cut the costly annual shutdowns that are a feature of chemicals industries to once every two years at Nippon Gohsei.

“It’s been very hard work during my time here, but I’ve had a good team around me,” he said. “I’ve made many friends, and now that I have retire I’m looking forward to visiting former colleagues who want to show me the sights of Japan.

“But I won’t be taking my hard hat and other safety gear which I feel like I’ve been wearing for ever.”

Mr McNiven, 66, joined Nippon Gohsei in early 2003 after working as a consultant engineer for Nobel Enterprises at Ardeer, Ayshire.

He previously spent 35 years at the Norsk Hydro fertiliser factory at Immingham, which closed in 2000.