Mark Jolliffe - Plant Manager Queensferry, UK

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Mark Jolliffe, Knauf Insulation UK, Queensferry

Mark has been our Queensferry plant manager in the UK since 2016. The UK is a highly developed Rock Mineral Wool market and Queensferry offers an opportunity to develop in key market areas such as Prefabricated Building Elements (PBE) and Fire Resistant Products. Queensferry is the group’s key Horticultural Slab manufacturer for our Green Solutions.

Highlights? Breaking the Queensferry production record in 2018 was a great achievement. It had stood for more than 10 years. We broke the record again 2019.
Mark Jolliffe, Plant Manager Queensferry, UK

What were you doing before working for Knauf Insulation?

I was working for Knauf Gypsum in the UK. I have been working for Knauf for nearly 25 years!

What have been the greatest challenges of 2020? 

COVID-19. The UK was badly affected in the early months of the pandemic, the country was forced into lockdown and our market dried up so we had to develop even greater agility to react to massive changes in demand. In line with all other plants we also had to implement controls to combat the spread of COVID-19 which we have done successfully. I really appreciate the cooperation and commitment of everyone that works at Queensferry without which we would not have been able to achieve all of the changes required.

How did your plant overcome the challenges facing the plant?

We worked as a team to develop and implement the strategy and physical requirements. We brief the workforce regularly and make sure everyone is fully aware of what we are doing and why. Everyone that comes on site is given an updated induction and instructed on the latest site rules. We are looking after each other which is the best way to look after ourselves.

What important learnings would you like to share?

Communication is always important but in times of almost constant change it is vital.

How has your plant environment been changed by post-COVID safety requirements?

Most of the changes are now routine, and while we are following the guidance on social distancing as a close-knit team it will probably never be comfortable to talk to colleagues through a screen, wearing a mask or from a distance of two metres — as required by local law. We are looking forward to returning to normal in that respect.

What measures were introduced to keep your team As Safe As Home?

We implemented comprehensive measures following the DASH — distance, air, surface and hygiene — guidance as outlined by the Group which was incredibly helpful.

What is your ambition for the site?

To improve in every way, we have made significant strides in the past two or three years but it is a journey and we still have a long way to go. First, we need to improve our Health and Safety performance. We have got good systems in place and our culture is improving, however our statistics need to reflect all our hard work. Our efficiency is improving all the time and we are keen to take that to the next level with new melting technology. Obviously we have to optimise where possible and we fully support the company’s drive to digitalisation, all within the Continuous Improvement (CI) framework and culture.

What have been your career highlights?

There have been many, but breaking the Queensferry production record in 2018 was a great achievement. It had stood for more than 10 years and we broke that record again in 2019. This is a team achievement involving everyone at Queensferry.

How has Continuous Improvement transformed your plant?

Visually we have seen a transformation with our version of the CI corridor, display screens and other communication boards. We have transformed specific areas by completing projects and improving them and we have created processes for collecting and actioning ideas that everyone has. Obviously it was a key factor in improving output, but it’s much more than that — it’s teamwork, it’s ownership, it’s recognition, it’s a way of life.

Which examples showcase the teamwork at your plant?

A recent example is how everyone pulled together to get the plant up and running when the switch room for the raw materials area was destroyed in an incident where a tipper lorry fell on it and stopped production. Due to everyone’s effort, commitment and flexibility we were back on line in less than 36 hours. What looked pretty catastrophic was quickly managed through the combined efforts of the whole team.

What safety successes would you like to highlight?

We are on a journey and we will not be happy until we have zero incidents, however as a result of the work we are doing we have been instrumental in setting standards that have been adopted by the group, for example, fork lift safety and scaffolding.

How does your plant contribute to the local community?

We provide local employment directly and indirectly; 95% of our raw materials are sourced locally and we are active participants in local business groups. 

What sustainability successes have been important in terms of waste management, energy savings or emission reduction?

We are always working to reduce our environmental impact, our most recent project was the installation of new fans for the extraction in the fiberising process. Not only have we increased our fan capacity but we have also reduced our energy usage by up to 30%.

What messages would you have for neighbours who are concerned about the environmental impact of your plant?

We are a key part of the UK’s ability to achieve its carbon emissions targets. At the Knauf Insulation plant in Queensferry, we manufacture Rock Mineral Wool products for insulating all types of buildings. Our products also provide fire protection and sound absorbing properties. The products we make are distributed to customers in the UK and Europe. The manufacturing process, which operates continuously 24 hours a day requires the melting of rock in a cupola furnace to produce insulation fibre. Knauf Insulation has been awarded a permit to operate the Queensferry plant by Natural Resources Wales. In short, Knauf Insulation carries out activities in accordance with its Environmental Permit, without harm to the environment or human health.


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