CATALOGUE PERNOD FILS
Let us tour this important factory. The main building measures 88 meters long by 20 meters wide. Before and behind it stand large halls covering more than 2,000 square meters, intended for shipping and receiving; they are equipped with docks and railways connecting the factory to the station.
Two vast warehouses, one east and the other west of the main buildings, and accessed in the same ways, are intended, one for the raw materials and provisions which require processing, and the other for goods packed for shipment; the eye sounds with pleasure the vast perspectives formed by the regular accumulations of bottles, the bundles of herbs and seeds, the cases prepared for the filling of orders.
Spacious, solidly vaulted cellars occupy the floor under the buildings.
The central structure which houses the distillery forms on the ground floor a single room 22 meters by 20 by 4-1/2 meters high; the ceiling is supported on strong iron crossbars supported by four cast iron columns.
The visitor is struck by the majestic aspect of this section, where 26 large stills and 22 colorators capable of producing twenty thousand liters of absinthe a day are symmetrically arranged.
Two steam generators supply the distillery; a third supplies the turbine which is turned by the Doubs (river), in case repairs are needed to the turbine or water is exceptionally low. The nominal force of these three generators is 250 horsepower.
Atop the distillery is the storeroom where the plants and seeds are measured out; using a carriage covered by a fabric sleeve and traveling on rails, they are easily distributed to the equipment. On the right and left sides of the storeroom are the stores of anise and fennel.
As we said, distillation is done using double boilers heated by steam. Through the years many modifications have been made to the distilling equipment; these perfections, now completed, make it possible to distill under the best conditions.
All these features of the production of the Pernod factory are carefully monitored; it is this full-time care, along with the scrupulous selection of raw materials, which brings the constantly growing fame enjoyed by its products in France and abroad.
The most stringent cleanliness, the most perfect order reign everywhere and when in the evening the vast distilling coppers are resplendent under the rays of the electrical lighting, the effect is truly magnificent.
If, after visiting the distillery, we make our way right or left, we enter two large well-lit rooms, the clamor of which contrasts with the calm laboratory where two workmen are sufficient to monitor the distillation and control the equipment. These are the workshops for preparing and shipping bottles.
The rinsing machines, manned by eight workers, make the bottles turn between fixed brushes, under hot water jets; they come out perfectly clear, drain on pivoting draining racks and pass to the filling machines which fill them at a rate of 20 a minute; this machine, a little marvel, is special at the Pernod house; it is the work of the technical director, Mr. Arthur Borel, who with meticulous care occupies himself with the improvement of the equipment.
The filled bottles come from there to the corkers, who only have to place them under their machines, which, driven by an ingenious mechanism, insert the stopper automatically.
The bottles then pass to the hands of the labelers, who affix labels gummed on the rubber cylinders of a special apparatus; then they are covered with tin foil which wraps the neck, and are deposited in cases fixed on a tricycle which conducts them to the place where they will be arranged by thousands, sealed, wrapped in paper, and placed into straw casing and boxes; these pass to the nailing machines which, with a single stroke, nail a whole side of the case, without noise and without jolting; these machines thus nail a hundred and fifty to two hundred cases per hour; two are enough to meet the needs of the factory.
Beside the nailing machines, which are of American origin, we admire a machine which marks the stoppers, accounting for 5,000 stoppers per hour, without requiring any attention other than to fill the hopper which feeds it from time to time.
The nailed cases are lined up in the vast halls of which we spoke before, there they are branded, rigged, and loaded onto the wagons that await them at the doorway. A hundred cases of 12 bottles can thus be finished in the space of an hour and the number could be well increased if not for the fact that this would make it necessary to enlarge the buildings.
From the handling of bottles, we descend into the cellars where new surprises await us.
Under these sonorous vaults are aligned in immense perspective the 230 tuns containing altogether millions of liters of fabricated absinthe; 19 large steel vats contain in their bellies the hundreds of millions of liters of proof spirit of wine. A simple move of the tap starts the flow of alcohol to the vats from tank cars brought from Languedoc and Rousillon.
Powerful pumps make the transfers, accumulating in a storage room the proof spirit needed to distill or to fill the bottle preparation vats; electric bells, acoustic tubes and whistles transmit commands at the speed of thought and the enormous handling required to move such considerable quantities of liquids is done, so to speak, without even realizing it, by four workers.
The temperature of the cellars is maintained at a constant level during the winter by means of steam pipes with fins.
From the cellars we climb to the workshop for packing barrels and carboys; both are covered with fir tree straw packing, in order to avoid, as far as possible, accidents en route; leads and wax seals, with the mark of the house, protect them from subtractions in the course of transport.
All transit between the workshops, the docks and the stores is accomplished using small Decauville railroads; manual labor is reduced to a minimum; therefore the impression with which one is left after having toured the vast factory is astonishment at how so few personnel can do so many things. All the same, the establishment employs a hundred and seventy workmen, including eighty women, not counting the coopers and woodworkers who work outdoors.
Ever since the cases have been supplied by a contractor exclusively occupied with their fabrication, there has been a workshop dependent on the factory; there sophisticated tools plane wood, cut it to size, cut the dovetails, groove the lids, nail the bottoms, etc; this workshop employs 30 workmen who deliver a hundred cases per hour; it is set up in a building formerly used as a paper mill and it excites a keen interest in all visitors to the Pernod factory.
The driving force which actuates the pumps; the machines for rinsing bottles, corking, labelling, and nailing, the elevators; the dynamoelectric machines; in a word the complex tools of the establishment, is provided by a turbine of 150 horsepower and a steam engine of 25 horsepower.
Translated by Artemis
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