Plastipack, a leading manufacturer of specialist covering materials for swimming pools, had a special guest to open its new test and research facility last week.
The new facility, at the firm's headquarters in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, was officially opened by energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd, who is also the MP for Hastings and Rye.
Rudd was given a tour of the £100,000 test site, which comprises five outdoor eight metre x four metre swimming pools, before being shown round the firm's manufacturing operations.
The test facility allows Plastipack to accurately measure and compare the performance of different types of cover materials, while monitoring real-time water temperature and environmental conditions. The firm uses polyethylene for its products.
Plastipack managing director Peter Adlington, said: “Our new outdoor laboratory will be invaluable in the development, analysis and comparison of high performance cover materials for pools.
“It increases our understanding of how products perform on real pools and will help Plastipack maintain market leadership through technical expertise.
“It adds credibility to product claims with publishable results and greater environmental monitoring which sets us and our products apart from other manufacturers. It also helps raise the importance and industry awareness of credible performance data.”
The test facility was designed and developed in collaboration with the Knowledge Transfer Partnership at the University of Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute and Department of Physics. The project is co-funded by the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK.
The company has invested more than £3m in its manufacturing and distribution capability since it was formed in 1999.
Rudd said: “This sector of employment is so attractive for people. It's great that there's really interesting businesses like this. Small, niche businesses that are very exciting for people to be a part of.”
Plastipack currently exports to 34 countries throughout the world, with around 75% of its business in the European Union (EU).
Rudd also asked Adlington on the consequences if the UK left the EU, with the Plastipack boss revealing the firm would suffer “competitive problems”.