Rachel Johnson, Operations Manager at Yorkshire Packaging Systems Rachel Johnson, Operations Manager at Yorkshire Packaging Systems Anti-flood door slatting system at Yorkshire Packaging Systems Anti-flood door slatting system at Yorkshire Packaging Systems A pallet of FloodSax at Yorkshire Packaging Systems A pallet of FloodSax at Yorkshire Packaging Systems

How alternative sandbags protect a high-tech food packaging company from the threat of flooding

A Yorkshire company that provides high technology machinery for the food industry is using an innovative ‘sandless’ sandbag to help protect it from flooding.

Yorkshire Packaging Systems – the leading UK supplier in shrink and stretch wrapping machinery - relocated from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, to larger premises in nearby Brighouse in October 2020 that have now been completely refurbished.

Their new 30,000sq ft base on the Armytage Road Industrial Estate is in a valley bottom and during times of torrential rain the water can pour down the hillside from the nearby Clifton Common and cascade onto the estate, potentially flooding the building.

There is also a flooding danger from the River Calder which runs next to the other side of the industrial estate.

The estate was hit hard by severe flooding during the notorious Boxing Day floods of 2015 when large parts of Brighouse and the wide Calderdale area were left badly damaged. The force of the water was so powerful that large bridges were wrecked and had to be rebuilt.

The estate was flooded again in February 2019 so Yorkshire Packaging Systems (https://www.yps.co.uk/) have made sure they are now doubly protected against the risk of floodwater damaging their premises.

They have an advanced slat system to keep the bulk of any floodwater from getting in through their warehouse doors but also have FloodSax alternative sandbags as a ‘safety net’ to make doubly sure. These can also be used inside – a FloodSax popped down a toilet can stop sewage floodwater from backing up into buildings.

FloodSax were invented by Yorkshire entrepreneur Richard Bailey and manufactured by his company Environmental Defence Systems Ltd, based less than 10 miles away in Huddersfield.

Yorkshire Packaging Systems Operations Manager Rachel Johnson said: “FloodSax provides us with that all important last line of defence should the worst happen.

“We provide machinery and shrink-wrap packaging for the food industry so we must have absolutely sterile conditions within the warehouse so no floodwater must ever get in. When it rains exceptionally heavily the speed, weight and volume of water that runs down the hillside towards the industrial estate is considerable.”

Yorkshire Packaging Systems has a phenomenal reputation in the food packaging industry and has a double A standard – the best it’s possible to get – from the British Retail Consortium.

It sells state-of-the-art shrink-wrapping machines which range in value from £20,000 to more than £100,000 so they must be fully protected from any risk of flooding at all times.

FloodSax saved a Yorkshire firm from disaster a few years ago when torrential rain threatened to flood a warehouse in Huddersfield and would have ruined high technology equipment worth £360,000. A previous flood at the premises had led to a £250,000 insurance claim but the FloodSax completely saved the warehouse the second time.

FloodSax resemble large pillowcases until they come into contact with water. The semi-porous inner liner within FloodSax contains a special gelling polymer with hundreds of absorbent crystals which absorbs up to 20 kilos of water. This causes them to expand until they resemble a traditional sandbag in less than five minutes but in their dry state 20 fit into a cardboard box that one person can carry.

They are multi-purpose and flexible because in their dry state they can also be used inside homes and businesses to soak up leaks and spills, often in hard-to-reach places (http://www.floodsax.co.uk/floodsax-indoors/).

Almost 3 million FloodSax have now been sold worldwide.