Formerly part of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Rome can plant was purchased by Ball Corp. from the beer-brewing giant in 2010 as part of a four-plant deal, and since that time the business of making cans has started to shift.
Plant Manager Bill Walton spoke to the Rome Rotary Club during their weekly Thursday meeting that the standard 12-ounce soft drink and beer can that has been the stalwart of the industry for years is now giving way to 16-ounce cans. Part of that has come about with the growing popularity of energy drinks, which come in the larger cans.
“It’s all about keeping up with what’s hot and what’s not,” Walton said. “We’re trying to maximize the value of our business by continuing to be diverse in many products.”
The Rome plant is one of the many plants who provide 16-ounce cans to energy drink makers like Monster and Rockstar. However, many of the four billion cans that the plant produces a year are still in the 12-ounce size.
“We’ve gone through different types of packaging over the years,” Walton said. “But our ability to change and adapt over 130 years is the reason why we’re a Fortune 300 company.”
Of the 14,500 employees in the Ball Corp. worldwide, 162 of them are hourly workers at the Rome plant. The plant runs three lines that are able to produce an average of 3,000 cans per minute. One of the production lines alone is the fastest in the world, able to produce upward of 3,800 12-ounce beverage cans per minute.
For the most part, the cans manufactured here are purchased by beverage makers in the southeast, which Walton said was great for keeping down shipping costs for the plant, which prides itself on being as environmentally conscious as possible.
“Because we’re shipping basically thousands of cans that weigh nothing, having most of our customers close by helps keep down fuel costs,” he said.
Founded in 1880, Ball Corp. makes a variety of can products, but was once famous for making Mason glass canning jars. The company no longer produces the jars themselves, but continues to make aluminum food packaging. Ball also produces cans for household products and aerosol cans.
Walton said the company has plants all over the world, including Western Europe, China and Brazil. The company also is active in the aerospace industry, mainly focusing their efforts on satellites.