The old Wade Ceramics Ltd manufacturing site, situated in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, was known to locals as the ‘Hilltop’ factory, and later renamed to The Royal Victoria Pottery that was originally built back in 1811 and renovated in 1814. During these early years, production had taken place within the factory using predominantly traditional methods that were labour intensive.
Fettling and sponging belts were operated by hand, making it a time consuming process. Modern technology and robotic machinery did not fit well within the old building that was set over several different levels, so innovative production techniques required to keep the company ahead of its competitors could not be fully exploited.
Building on Wade’s prior business success, and to ensure a substantial bright future, the decision was made in 2007 to construct a brand new fully advanced ceramics manufacturing site in Etruria Valley, Stoke-on-Trent, which could embrace the very latest kiln firing machines, robotic handling and pressure casting manufacturing technology, and decoration facilities.
Automation of the clay casting process using state-of-the-art robotics was introduced in the new factory, taking away much of the physical strains and repetitive actions traditionally associated with hand casting, sponging and fettling operations.
Further automated conveyor systems with pick and place devices significantly reduced the requirement for ware trucks and associated manual handling of the product, which, in turn, significantly decreased the risk of Work Related Upper Limb Disorders that historically remains a problem within the ceramics industry.
The factory has been efficiently operating since 2010, and we are continually striving to further enhance production facilities to meet the demands of our customers. At present, we are currently looking to invest in a second kiln machine, and are also assembling a new decorating facility.