Cashing in on Malta

Crane Currency: creating a fortress to protect the world's economic engine

Crane Currency: When Resilience is a Necessity

Crane Currency: When Resilience is a Necessity

See how logistical hurdles were overcome to develop Malta's first HPR facility.

It's what makes the world go around. Almost everyone agrees that it can't buy happiness, and we all know it doesn't grow on trees.

But for many people around the world, it now comes from a tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.

Crane Currency, one of the leading producers of bank note paper in the world, has built a US$100-million, state-of-the-art production facility on the island nation of Malta, off the coast of Sicily, Italy. The unique characteristics of the island make it an ideal, and safe, place to print currency for nations around the globe. And when you literally have a license to print money, security and safety take on a whole new meaning.

It's one of the reasons Crane Currency has been an FM Global client since 2001 and the company's CFO mission statement mandates all new construction be done to FM Global standards. For the company that pioneered security measures in U.S. currency, having secure, highly protected risk (HPR) facilities is not only a goal, it's a necessity.

"We are dealing with the sovereign wealth of nations," explains Tim Golden, Crane Currency's risk manager. "We provide currency solutions to more than 80 central banks and have been the sole provider of bank note paper to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing since 1879. These countries are putting their faith in us, so we have to be resilient."

A safe haven
That need for resiliency is what drew Crane to the island of Malta.

For centuries, the island has attracted invaders and conquerors. Its location in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea has made it a magnet for military forces looking to enforce their dominance over Europe and Africa. As a British colony, Malta served as a strategic base for British and Allied forces during World War II. Malta earned its independence in 1964. Today, its casinos, nightlife and mild climate attract 2 million vacationers a year, while government incentives and its membership in the European Union have lured businesses of all types.

For Crane, the island proved to have the perfect blend of expertise and protection. Thanks to previous bank note printing on the island, Malta has an experienced workforce. And with the nearest land mass 50 miles (80 kilometers) away, the isolated island provides a level of security not many other places can offer. The country has minimal exposure to natural disasters, and the new facility is just a few miles (kilometers) from the airport and the shipping port, which is one of the largest ports in Europe. The island sits along a major transportation route and is close to many of Crane's customers in Africa and the Middle East.

"Malta is like a little village," says Matthew Calascione, Crane's Malta project manager. "It has a population of about 400,000 people. English is the second language, understood and spoken by literally everybody, and we have 10 months of sunshine a year. It's a friendly, safe, little island."

Small island, big challenges
But building on Malta was not without its challenges. Crane's mandate to build to FM Global standards, its desire to use FM Approved products and the need to import nearly all the construction material added to the complexity of the project. A lack of water provided a major hurdle to building an adequate fire protection system.

The island of Malta has no streams, lakes or rivers and relies on desalination plants for most of its water. The limited water supply proved to be a challenge in designing a fire protection system for Crane Currency's entire 270,000-square-foot (25,000-square-meter) complex.

"You can't put in a sprinkler system without a good water supply, and local building codes don't allow aboveground tanks for fire protection water storage," explains Scott Strickling, FM Global senior account manager. "So, they had to dig caverns in the limestone to get the water underground. Crane really overcame every obstacle to have the first HPR plant on Malta."

And in typical fashion, Crane didn't just build one cistern to hold the water, it built two. Crane will now be able to transfer the water to the second cistern while doing maintenance and repairs. This allows Crane to conserve water and maintain its sprinkler protection during maintenance.

For Crane, building an HPR facility remained a priority despite the challenges.

"We have made significant investments in state-of-the-art printing equipment," Golden says. "It only makes sense to put it in a highly protected facility."

The Crane facility on Malta is the first new bank note production facility constructed anywhere in several decades. It features four buildings, including a main production hall the size of two U.S. football fields that holds three printing lines. The second building houses the finishing and design departments, and a third the administrative offices. The final building, still under construction, will house a three-floor customer experience center.

"Every piece of equipment in this facility is brand-new," Golden adds. "We have all the latest technology, all the gadgets, all the bells and whistles. This will be the most productive, quality-conscious bank note production facility in the world."

HPR state of mind
And it will be one of the best protected. Crane has long been committed to having HPR status. Its production facilities in western Massachusetts, USA, have all reached HPR status even though they are all located in flood zones. Crane invested in a new fire pump and reinforced its sprinkler system in Nashua, New Hampshire, USA, to get it up to HPR standards. And in Sweden, the company is adding sprinklers to an entire plant it recently acquired.

"Everybody that we deal with is a proponent of the risk management philosophy and the resilience model that Crane embodies," says Scott Strickling, FM Global senior account manager. "From the top, through all aspects of the organization, that message is clear. It makes an account manager's job easy."

That shared philosophy is one of the reasons insurance broker Marsh brought the two companies together 17 years ago. Following 9/11, Crane's insurer no longer had the capacity to continue providing coverage. Marsh needed to find a new insurer, and FM Global's capacity and engineering services made it a perfect fit.

"Clients need to have a passion and commitment to loss prevention, otherwise they are not going to fit with FM Global," explains Marsh Senior Vice President Chris Curry.

"Crane is a true fit because they want the services that fm global can provide."

Chris Curry, Senior vice president, Marsh

So, when Crane started discussing its new facility in Malta, there was no question that it would be built to HPR standards. Crane spared no expense. It has invested in cutting-edge security systems and data centers, added redundancies to many of its mechanical systems and has sprung for the very best throughout the facility.

"It's always an issue of quality versus costs, and we strongly believe that good quality actually costs less when you consider all the additional costs a business incurs because of poor quality," says Crane Currency's Malta Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Cortis.

"In malta, we had a healthy budget, a greenfield site where we could do anything and a commitment to be best in breed."

Kenneth Cortis, Malta CFO, Crane Currency

Archaeological finds and slow-curing cement
But it wasn't always easy.

The project was almost derailed before it started. Excavation work revealed existing structures, which fortunately turned out to be from the World War II era. Archaeological finds can often stall modern construction projects on the island that has been inhabited since 5200 B.C.

At times, it was also hard to get materials to the island. The project was delayed several weeks while the proper slow-curing cement was shipped in for the foundation. Crane also wanted the project built using only FM Approved products, but they weren't always available.

"FM Approved products for us mean peace of mind," Calascione says. "We feel very comfortable that the likelihood of failure is significantly reduced and the products are of a certain standard. When we couldn't get what we needed, we went a step above and used products with higher specs to compensate for the fact they weren't FM Approved."

Crane also faced hurdles building to FM Global standards. Most contractors that work on the island follow British or European standards, so FM Global standards were new to many of them.

"All the standards have their merits, and I believe they all work well," says Paul Fenech, Crane's engineering manager on the Malta project. "It was just a matter of everyone learning the FM Global standards. What I like most about the FM Global standards is the element of research that goes into them and the amount of information and data sheets that are available. Sometimes the FM Global standards were a little bit challenging, but we always managed to find a solution."

And the FM Global solution didn't always end up being the most expensive. Local codes required Crane to install two fire pumps for its fire protection system. Through its expertise and FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheets, FM Global demonstrated to local building officials that one pump was sufficient, resulting in significant savings.

Most advanced facility in the world
Crane unveiled its new digs in February. And when you throw a party on the island of Malta, everyone comes. The prime minister, U.S. ambassador, other local dignitaries and the media were all on hand to tour the immaculate production hall. The finished facility, without question, lives up to its billing as the most advanced bank note production facility in the world.

The fire protection network, the redundant mechanical systems and dual underground cisterns went largely unnoticed during the opening ceremonies. But for the risk manager, those items are vital to the success of the project.

"Intrinsically, we know that if you don't have a loss, you can spend your capital and your time on productive things," Golden concludes. "I'm passionate about not having a loss because so many good things come out of not having a loss."

"The only good claim is no claim."

Tim Golden, Risk manager, Crane Currency

Watch how Crane Currency overcame logistical hurdles to develop Malta's first HPR facility.