Harrier look to Britain for their silver lining

Harrier LLC is one of the UK’s leading photography printers working with photographs, posters, canvases, photobooks and merchandise. They print for some of the biggest brands in the world such as Tesco and Funky Pigeon. With a large and expanding customer base in Continental Europe adding extra pressure to their UK site, Harrier decided to open a new production facility near Prague, Czech Republic. Chris Hughes, Managing Director of Harrier, explains why the new facility was necessary: "This allows us to create a state-of-the-art production facility, in a location close to the major European markets, with excellent distribution networks and access to a highly skilled and enthusiastic talent pool."

The project – recycling silver from waste chemicals

Photos are processed by a photo-chemical reaction which records the impression of light on a surface coated with the chemical silver halide. Basically, this is the same process as it was 200 years ago when photographers used a darkroom lit by a red safety light and featuring a clothesline to peg the photographs onto. Now companies like Harrier produce photos on a commercial scale – the new processing site in Prague is producing approximately 450,000 prints per day.

One of the biggest changes that have occurred in the industry in the last two centuries is the increased focus on recycling and protecting the environment. Once the silver halide has been used and reused the silver can be extracted and the remaining compound chemical can be recycled. With such a huge-scale operation, producing millions of prints per week, Harrier required bulk chemical storage to stock the chemicals for transportation to the specialist recycling complex.

The challenge – from Britain to the Czech Republic in time for Christmas

To ensure the Prague site was able to meet the Christmas demands for photos and personalised goods Jeremy Rawley, Health, Safety & Facilities Manager at Harrier, stressed the tight deadlines of the project. In these circumstances purchasing from a manufacturer based in Britain might seem slightly bizarre. However, Jeremy explained that Harrier is a niche business and to ensure a seamless chemical tank installation he needed to work closely with the manufacturer to discuss the tanks’ requirements and specifications. He could not find the level of support he wanted in Continental Europe. Additionally, products manufactured within Britain must meet certain product and manufacturing standards which guarantees a quality which can’t always be found elsewhere. For Jeremy and Harrier, it was worth shopping further afield to get the right tank.

The tanks – adapted for the environment

To meet Harrier’s specifications we manufactured four 10,000 litre bunded chemical tanks. This is enough storage so the specialist tanker is only required to empty the waste chemicals every 6-12 weeks – keeping costs down to a minimum. Purchasing a bunded tank was also an important measure for Harrier. Bunded tanks have a secondary container able to contain any leaks and spills from the primary tank and acts as a measure to protect the environment from hazardous solutions. Although silver halide isn’t extremely toxic, it does create an environment where microorganisms cannot grow.

As the chemical tanks were due to be stored in a busy yard near working machinery they were fitted with Armco barriers before being delivered to the Czech Republic. Once on site Harrier also fit the tanks with a thick insulated jacket with a thermostat to keep the tank contents at a constant 15°C – the temperature around Prague can range from around -20°C to 40°C.

The result – new site operational

“The Tuffa tech team were very supportive and they were able to look through our datasheet and design a bunded chemical tank specific to our requirements. The tank was manufactured to our tight timescales and when we couldn’t find a haulage company to transport the bulk items to us in the Czech Republic, they organised that too.” Jeremy Rawley – Health, Safety & Facilities Manager at Harrier LLCThe chemical tanks are now operational and ready to meet the demand in production as Christmas approaches. The new site development will also decrease delivery times in Continental Europe while the new Armco-protected, bunded chemical tanks enable Harrier to meet strict environmental standards.

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