Eco-friendly vacuum forming is saving cash as well as the planet

A fast-growing company which specialises in producing bespoke packaging solutions is helping businesses to save cash – as well as the planet.

County Durham firm Plastic Mouldings Northern (PMN) says half of its business is now made up of vacuum forming after investing in a state-of-the-art machine two years ago.

PMN’s German-made Geiss machine can mould products 3.5m by 1.5m using material up to 12mm thick.

Sales director Freddy Bourdais says it’s this investment which is enabling other firms to save thousands of pounds as well as reducing their carbon footprint.

“A lot of companies we work with are ISO 14001 accredited, which means they’re committed to environmental responsibilities,” says Bourdais.

“So they’re constantly looking for ways of trying to reduce the tonnage of products going into landfill.

“We invested in the Geiss machine a couple of years ago so we could accommodate large products. There are only seven of them in the UK, the nearest to us being down in Leicester, so locally it really gives us an edge.

“We also invested in a large 5-axis CNC machine so we could trim moulded products quicker and more accurately.”

PMN produces a range of returnable packaging solutions for clients in electronic, engineering, automotive, medical and aerospace industries.

Returnable packaging products include Eurostacking containers, pallets and pallet boxes, attached lid containers and ‘stack and nest’ solutions, as well as bespoke vacuum forming products.

Bourdais added: “We produce packaging for any car or engine part which needs to be transported from the manufacturer or supplier into the automotive manufacturer (OEM), and on to the manufacturing lines.

“We’ll take a CAD drawing of the part and design a 3D drawing of a tray to accommodate that part. Then we’ll make a tool and mould it – and that tool might be used for 10 years or more.

“We tend to assume everyone knows about this kind of packaging, but they don’t. One of our clients was spending £12,000 a year on cardboard boxes, but by supplying them with plastic re-usable packaging they’ll be saving that cash after about 14 months – which over five years will save them £60,000.

“Returnable packaging now makes up about 50% of our business and it’s growing.”

PMN, based at South Church Enterprise Park in Bishop Auckland, was founded by Bourdais and business partner Mark Rigg with two staff in 2002, and this year has seen turnover grow by more than 10% to £2.3m, up from just over £2m in 2016.

The firm is planning a £1m expansion later this year with the aim of doubling staff numbers and sales.

PMN has built up an industry reputation for supplying Jouplast adjustable risers, which ensure decking and paving slabs sit even, having previously gained an exclusivity agreement to distribute the equipment across Britain.

The firm supplies DIY chains including Homebase, B&Q and Wickes, and it also manufactures parts for the automotive industry, with clients including Bentley, Jaguar Land Rover, JCB and Rolls Royce, while it has also recently supplied reusable packaging solutions to Hitachi Rail Europe in Newton Aycliffe.

The company aims to expand its new premises and eventually consolidate all operations into the new headquarters, and take its workforce to around the 40 mark over the next five years.

More details about Plastic Mouldings Northern can be found at, or you can give the team a call on 01388 777 700.