Canadian Plastics

Packaging Solutions Around the World

By Mark Stephen, managing editor   

HUSKY IN COLOMBIA: solution helps products stand out

HUSKY IN COLOMBIA: solution helps products stand out

THE CHALLENGE: It sounds like the same old story: Grasyplast SA, a leading plastic packaging company situated in Colombia, wanted to differentiate their product on the grocery store shelves with attractive, yet complex new packaging. Adding to the problem, Grasyplast — which had previously been using external suppliers to manufacture their margarine containers — wanted to begin manufacturing these containers in-house. Their existing thermoforming solution was very limiting, however, and produced containers with flimsy walls, as well as poorly printed labels.

THE SOLUTION: The existing product may have looked run-of-the-mill, but the company didn’t want the solution to be. They turned to Husky Injection Molding Systems for help.

Working with other suppliers, Husky provided Grasyplast with a complete integrated solution that included hot runner, mold, machine, in-mold labeling (IML), and auxiliaries, and also offered suggestions to streamline the entire manufacturing process.

Husky’s system provided interchangeable modules for lids and containers that significantly reduced the amount of downtime between every mold change, and resulted in faster cycles: the container system now runs between 5.5 and 6.5 seconds, while the lid system is running between 4.8 and 5.5 seconds. Also, the containers were significantly lightweighted, one container by as much as five grams. Finally, the difficult application of the two label oval container — one wraparound container and one label on the bottom — demanded that the placement of the labels needed to be perfectly synchronized.


THE RESULT: Grasyplast is currently producing four containers of various sizes ranging from 125 grams, 250 grams, 500 grams, and 1,000 grams. The old-style thermoformed containers and lids have been replaced by lighter, better-looking packages that incorporate eye-catching labeling with more dynamic colors and graphics. “Not only did Husky help our product to better stand out on store shelves, but they helped us to run a more efficient, leaner operation,” said Gustavo Barrera, Grasyplast’s general manager.

Husky Injection Molding Systems (Bolton, Ont.);; 905-951-5000

WITTMANN IN AMERICA: Cultivating growth with high speed robot

THE CHALLENGE: McConkey & Co., a Sumner, Wash.-based supplier of disposable plastic planter pots to the horticultural industry, wanted to increase capacity to satisfy new orders without having to purchase another injection molding machine.

THE SOLUTION: The company called on Wittmann, who took a close look at the operations on the 72,000 square foot facility. They decided that the existing robots, not the parts, limited the machine cycles of McConkey’s two 550-ton injection machines. One of the molds, a four-cavity mold for planter pots, was running a 7.1 second cycle, but was limited by the robot’s speed. To make matters worse, parts often fell off the existing end-of-arm-tooling (EOAT) during removal, meaning that the robots had to be even further slowed down in an effort to hold the parts. The end result: significantly lower output than the molds and machines were capable of.

Wittmann proposed their W732 UHSS (Ultra High Speed Servo) robot, and recommended specialized EOAT from SAS Automation suitable for high speed applications.

Critical to the success of the project would be the speed of the robot, and the ability of the EOAT to hold parts during robot motion. No worries, according to Erind Condon, McConkey’s maintenance supervisor. “We haven’t even come close to taxing the robot, and are looking at what other operations it might perform,” he said. “Also, the robot interfaces with the conveyor like a glove, eliminating the need for our operators to run around the machine to clear the conveyor.”

THE RESULT: The W732 UHSS robot allowed McConkey & Co. to gain 1.85 seconds per cycle for just one machine, resulting in approximately 1,250 hours of extra machine time per year, or more than a 25 per cent reduction in cycle time. Also important is what the shop didn’t have to gain: another injection molding machine, with resulting loss of floor space. The company did, however, subsequently purchase a second Wittmann robot. “Instead of spending US$600,000 on an injection molding machine, we simply bought two Wittmann robots for US$150,000, which is one-quarter of the cost,” Condon said.

Wittmann Canada Inc. (Richmond Hill, Ont.);; 1-888-466-8266

KIEFEL IN GERMANY: technology satisfies environmental standard

THE CHALLENGE: Recycled polyethylene bag manufacturer Pakufo GmbH, based in Sinsheim-Duhren, Germany, had a colorful-sounding problem: keeping its Blue Angel while sticking to the Green Dot. Translation: the company needed to expand to meet increased production requirements, but still wanted to retain its Blue Angel symbol of regenerated products, given out in accordance with Germany’s Green Dot waste reduction program.

THE SOLUTION: The family-owned, 45-employee-strong company called on Kiefel Extrusion GmbH, a specialist in blown film extrusion lines.

After visiting the facility, Kiefel suggested the installation of one of its Kirion generation of blown film extrusion systems, capable of processing up to 100 percent of recycled plastic — which was in accordance with the requirements of some of Pakufo’s customers. The monolayer line installed at Pakufo consisted of a Kirion 120 – 30D extruder with die diameter of 350 mm, and a Kirion T 2200 film take-off fitted with deep-fold gusseting equipment.

Gravimetric dosing, a two-color inline printer, and slit-seal equipment were also integrated in the line. A Kirion W 2200S1 winder is used to wind the films. The established Kirion C unit with the C2 profile control system performs control.

The Kiefel technicians came up with a special solution to master the high throughput of the line, together with high bubble stability, and optimum strength: the company’s Perfect Cool Vario high-output cooling system, which makes it possible to operate a cooling ring with step-less height variation, depending on the film production and product requirements.

THE RESULT: Pakufo GmbH successfully completed its expansion — which also required the construction of a 20-meter high building to house new equipment — and now produces over 18,000 tons of film per year. And the company was able to keep its Blue Angel.

Kiefel Inc. (Wrentham, Mass.);; 508-384-1200

EcoSmartPlastics: All-natural packager comes to Canada

Nothing says summer in Canada like mosquitoes and other nuisance insects. But they’d better beware: a new plastics packager has come to town with a product designed to keep them, as well as a host of unwelcome animals, at bay.

EcoSmartPlastics is the manufacturer of two distinct lines of biodegradable packaging products. The company’s Repellem green garbage bags use all-natural ingredients to (as the name implies) repel everything from dogs to wasps; Eco-Smartbags, meanwhile, are a line of unscented trash bags designed to meet the toughest industry standards.

After several years in business, the Bohemia, N.Y. company recently added Montreal-based Larry Schwartz as its executive vice president and Canadian representative.

According to company president Terry Feinberg, both Repellem and Eco-Smartbags are 100 per cent biodegradable, compostable, non-toxic, and chemical-free. But while many a
ll-natural packagers can, and do, make that claim, few can assert the following: neither of the products requires oxygen, light, moisture, or heat to break down.

“Our technology utilizes the microbial environment that is living in a landfill, compost bin, or ocean, and doesn’t degrade without that,” Feinberg said. “This means that our products won’t degrade under the kind of heat that might be encountered on the top shelf of a warehouse or supermarket, which is a problem for packaging products made using cornstarch or oxygen-dependent additives.”

The active ingredients in Repellem and Eco-Smartbags, which Feinberg prefers to keep confidential, take between nine months to seven years to biodegrade, depending on landfill conditions, meaning that the bags themselves will disappear completely in that time.

“We have two different additive technologies,” Feinberg said. “Our Eco-Smartbags are made with our biodegradable technology, while our Repellem products utilize our scented techology and bio-technology.”

Whatever the active ingredients are, Repellem bags were singled out for notice in the 2007 Cool New Product Expo held by Stamford University.

While important to its growth, the addition of Canadian representation is just one part of EcoSmartPlastics’ bigger plan. “We have two production plants in Wisconsin, and others in the U.S. that are on standby,” Feinberg explained. “We’re also finalizing deals to have several U.S. plants that will produce our products for many different retailers across the globe, including some larger corporations that are very interested.”

The company is also looking to license its technology for the production of a variety of non-packaging products.

“We’re a little company that wants to grow,” Feinberg said.

EcoSmartPlastics (Bohemia, N.Y.);; 631-273-3992

Reusable grocery bags may pose public health risk: study

A new report funded by the Environment and Plastics Industry Council (EPIC), a division of CPIA, has concluded that reusable grocery bags can pose a public health risk.

The report, entitled “A Microbiological Study of Reusable Bags and ‘First or single-use’ Plastic Bags”, was based on laboratory testing of reusable grocery bags carried out in spring 2009 by two independent Canadian laboratories. A third, Toronto-based laboratory was engaged to provide oversight and evaluative commentary of the results.

The results show that reusables are a breeding ground for bacteria, and pose public health risks — food poisoning, skin infections such as bacterial boils, allergic reactions, triggering of asthma attacks, and ear infections.

According to the study, over 30 per cent of the bags had unsafe levels of bacterial contamination, 40 per cent had yeast or mold, and some of the bags had intestinal faecal bacteria embedded in their surface.

According to EPIC, the test results have been shared with the federal Sub-Committee on Food Safety — which is currently looking into the safety of Canada’s food supply chain — federal and provincial ministers of health, medical associations across the country, as well as public health officials for immediate action.

“There is a growing trend to reusable packaging overall in an effort to encourage reduction. The position of the plastics industry is clear,” EPIC said. “The industry strongly supports reduction and reuse, and recognizes use of reusables as good environmental practice, but it does not want to see these initiatives inadvertently compromise public health and safety. The industry believes that appropriate research and investigation must be pursued. This testing sample is but a first step.” CPL


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