Narrow Web Europe

Narrow Web Europe

March 27, 2007

Raflatac's chief reinforces a sustainable pledge

Narrow Web Europe

Raflatac’s chief reinforces a sustainable pledge

By Barry Hunt

Manufacturers of paper products, plastics films and labeling materials have good reasons to take a positive attitude toward reducing pollution, encouraging sustainability and making processes more energy efficient. The Finnish conglomerate UPM Raflatac — which has always claimed strong ecological credentials — plans to place the issue of sustainable development ever higher up the agenda. This was announced by Heikki Pikkarainen, president, speaking at the opening ceremony of a new PSA factory in Changshu, China.

“Environmental compliance is a matter of rising importance throughout the whole labeling value chain. Therefore, we have decided to take an active role in developing the sustainability of self-adhesive labeling technology. Moving forward, we will continue to search for new eco-friendly solutions to exceed our customers’ expectations while reducing environmental impact. We’re aiming for a sustainable future.”

UPM Raflatac is currently implementing the environmental ISO 14001 certification process across its factories globally. In effect, it extends a policy of environmental management which has been a corporate priority since the company’s formation in the early 1970s. Pikkarainen said the group had set the benchmark for the entire labeling industry: “We’re continuously researching new ways of reducing waste at all stages of our products’ life cycles, from the use of raw materials to our customers’ processes.” A product that typified this approach was UPM ProFi, a wood-plastic composite manufactured mainly from surplus materials from laminate production.

The Changshu factory is located next to a UPM paper mill on the River Yangtze, about 60 miles west of Shanghai. It will supply paper and film label materials for markets in China and the Asia Pacific region. It has its own power plant, effluent treatment plant and a harbor. The company says the US$40 million it cost to develop and build the factory forms part of a global growth and investment strategy. This includes a new facility under construction in Dixon, IL, USA, and the doubling of film production capacity in Europe carried out in 2006.

Edale mum on landmark converting concept

Companies like to spread the word about their latest equipment, especially when it opens up new opportunities. Problem is, if it is really that great the customers would often prefer that everyone buttoned their lips about it. Of course, secrecy may be important where some security-related application is involved. One supplier who can identify with this problem is Edale Ltd., a flexo press manufacturer based in Hampshire, England. It announced that it has gained its first UK order for its Lambda machine, but cannot say who the customer is.

The fact is that the Lambda is not a press, but a clever piece of converting kit. It was launched to much interest at the Chicago Labelexpo, shown combined with Tamarack’s P500 RFID tag inserting technology. Available in three web widths, the servo driven series allows full customization of various converting functions using “plug and play” technology with an open architecture design. Units can be reconfigured and upgraded and there is a choice of single or multiple web paths.

Jeremy Westcott, Lambda sales engineer, says the company has already sold two versions outside the UK. But again, can reveal only that one went to a large German label converter, while the other went to a Russian security printer. The UK order, he can reveal, is the largest configuration the company has worked on. It has four base units, double the size of the launch machine, and is claimed to be at the cutting edge of technology. Delivery is scheduled for August. Oh, and no RFID tags will be harmed in the process.

Further boosts for Finnish RFID technology

Two further signs of the industrial and retail penetration of HF and UHF RFID tags, tickets and smart labels, have come from Finland (which for a small country has the enviable knack of pushing boundaries in niche, high technology products). The RFID division of UPM Raflatac recently doubled the production capacity of tags and inlays at its Jyväskylä production plant in the center of the country. The group also has a thriving RFID production plant in North Carolina serving global markets.

Another major Finnish producer is the Confidex Group, headquartered in Nokia (famous for its cell phones). It has attracted €5 million (US$6.66 million) of venture capital funding from Logispring, with offices in Geneva and New York, and a local investor Aura Capital. As Confidex’s first institutional round of equity, the investment will be spent on strengthening its sales and boosting manufacturing.

The group has operations in Europe, the USA and China. It specializes in contactless identification technology for industrial processes, supply chains, mass transit networks and retail pricing. It includes XinTag, a designer and manufacturer of RFID transponders for high volume systems. Last year Confidex began a five-year contract to supply 125 million RFID contactless limited use tickets for Guangshen Railway, run by the Chinese railways ministry. It was the largest single order for this type of RFID ticketing ever placed. The company subsequently established a XinTag subsidiary in Guangzhou.

New European showcase for Mark Andy presses

Mark Andy has a new European showroom and demonstration facility located in Basel, Switzerland. Named as the Advanced Technology Centre, it has 10,763 square feet of space, which includes a spare parts department and administration offices. At the official opening, president Paul Brauss said the facility marked an important beginning of many initiatives as part of a priority toward global growth. “With a solid foundation of people and products, a showcase like this will allow us to build relationships and support web flexo throughout Europe.”

Dieter Huck, managing director of Mark Andy Europe, said that during May 7-11 the building will host a week of machine demonstrations and print trials. Presses shown comprise a servo driven XP5000, a model from the revised 2200 series, and a Comco ProGlide MSP. The company’s VSRD inspection/rewinder 2 also will be demonstrated.

German coater plans to triple PSA production

Herma is well under way with a new self-adhesive coating plant under construction in Filderstadt Bonlanden, Germany. The project, which costs some €30 million (US$39.95 million), is scheduled for completion later this year. The Stuttgart-based company supplies 70 percent of its adhesive material to global customers and retains the rest for internal company processes.

The new coating plant will allow Herma the potential to triple annual production capacity for adhesive material from 250 to 750 million square meters. “We are also set to achieve a breakthrough in terms of coating speed, with production rates increasing from 800 meters per minute to 1,100 to 1,200 meters per minute,” says Thomas Baumgärtner, managing director. “We will achieve the higher speeds by introducing new types of adhesive curtain coaters, as opposed to roller application.”

Part of the plant’s space saving and energy saving initiatives include a heat recovery system and gas fired heating to dry the paper webs directly. The material flow system is designed to increase speed and efficiency by reducing manual transportation routes between the coater and interim storage facilities for raw materials and finished products.

Besides self-adhesive materials, Herma produces primary labels and labeling machines. It has about 800 employees at three production locations. In the 2005 financial year it achieved total sales of €182.7 million (US$239 million), of which some 53 percent were exports.