‘In the near future a learning machine will be capable of autonomously interpreting data and improving on its own performance under every condition.’ Leading convertering machinery suppliers highlight their ongoing technological developments. A TWM report.
TWM/1: What key technical launches have you made in the past year and what was your reason for launching them?
Enrico Zino, global head of marketing, Fabio Perini: “It is estimated that over 21 million tonnes of tissue products, almost one third of the market, are destined to Away From Home products, with global demand driven by Northern America and Europe but growing very rapidly in the Asia-Pacific countries.
“In 2019 Fabio Perini presented Proxima S6, the cutting edge rewinder designed to meet customers’ requirements in a market where product adjustments must be done continuously, performed simply by a command on the HMI control panel.
“Based on the proven Sincro Winding System, Proxima S6 can reach a speed
of 600 m/min while drastically reducing product changeover times, since core diameter, roll diameter and length and perforation pitch can be adjusted directly from the control panel.”
Giovacchino Giurlani, chief technology officer, Futura: “Our key launch in 2019 came about as a result of a technical partnership with Plusline. The Together solution is a revolutionary system which shortens the production process by eliminating several steps. In summary, Together collects the log from therewinder and delivers a finished package. The system includes log trimming, log cutting and integrated packaging, all in one line, guaranteeing a continuous flow of product from converting to packaging. The optimised layout reduces the risk of product damage because of reduced handling.
“It is a compact solution which can be installed on any converting line, bringing multiple opportunities for those building a new facility, and those seeking to make their existing lines more efficient through increased productivity.
“The rationale behind Together is that customers are seeking to optimise space, manpower and performance to maximise their efficiency and competitiveness. There is also a constant drive to improve quality – a demand which Together also addresses by minimising damage.”
Carlo Berti, sales director, Gambini:
“Beyond AirMill – the greatest game- changer in the converting field in years – we’ve concentrated our efforts on professional rewinders. Just one focus in our mind: making user-friendly and money- saving lines. We like thinking in terms of 10-year time spans; we’re at the beginning of a new decade, so: how would we want our future selves to think of The Twenties, ten years from now? What do we think the industry needs us to do, to change the future and not just live it? For the first time in history, this year US millennials (aged 25-40) will outnumber baby-boomers (55- 75): these young adults are more educated, more ethnically diverse and marry less than previous generations; they also earn more – though having less wealth – and look for green choices, while spending their money (even in disposables, like toilet paper or kitchen towels).
“We’re urged to fulfil their needs and dreams: we have kind of a moral obligation to help them feel greener and keep more money in their pockets. That’s our mission, as tough as it is.”
Devrim Deniz, managing director
ICM Makina: “In 2019, we focused on improvements of our folding machines and we introduced a new range of V-folded tissue and towel machines, the ‘’VENUS performance line’’. In connection with this we also focused on speeding up our Multifold towel production line, the “ZENITH performance line”, from 200mpm to 250mpm.
“This is the century of information, and having the right information is the key to success. We launched these lines into the market after discussions with our customers and marketing feedback. Sales trends in 2019 showed a significant increase in single and multifold products for final products and related converting equipment. Reacting to this trend on time allows us to make progress.”
Martin Kyles, president and chief executive, Maflex America
“In 2019, Maflex responded to customer demand for a reliable, affordable option for a flexiblemachine which can produce rolls with and without a core. We added capability to our HERMES Continuous Rewinder to allow a push-button change-over from running traditional cored products, to coreless – without a hole. The production speeds of these options are 600m/min with cored product and 500 with coreless. We shipped multiple machines of this model in 2019 and are working on other projects to be shipped in 2020.
“Another response to market request was an Embosser Laminator with tool-free roll changes with a quicker, more reliable start-up time after roll changes. We added new technologies and a slightly different approach to our HERACLE Embosser.
Our key features which differentiate our embosser from others are 1 – the upper web does not need to be removed for roll change; 2 – unlimited combination of interchangeable upper steel rolls – without the need to stop the machine; and 3 – HMI based recipe system to automatically phase rolls.
“To enhance the value of our highly flexible Rewinder lines, we added a second orbit system to our LADON Industrial Log Saw to increase the production speed to 120 cuts per minute. With a push of a button, the saw automatically transforms from the traditional orbit, utilised for high density large diameter logs, to the revised motion needed for smaller diameter logs. This option can be installed on most of our existing LADON saws in the field.”
Marco Calcagni, sales and marketing director, OMET
“One of OMET’s latest and most important news has been the launch of the interfolded ASV line in 2019. The first prototypes came out in 201 but in 2019, in response to the market requirements, the new vacuum folding system reached the target: the line can easily reach up to 300m/min. Customers say this innovative technology was essential and has enabled OMET to become a leader in the folded products machinery market.
“2019 has also seen the rise of the TV840 TRONIC line. No manual operation is needed with this machine as it can be completely controlled electronically. Each operation is servo-motorised, as well as supervised via remote controls. The reasons behind the design are market requirements and the operators’ need to have a user-friendly system, thereby a safer and better performing machine.
“No less important has been the development of digital printing applied to tissue converting. It is now possible to print variable data-customised napkins, placemats, handkerchiefs and paper towels. The digital printing system can reach up to 200m/min, keeping extremely high-quality and using food-compliant inks.”
Andrew Green, vice president of Tissue & Nonwovens, PCMC
“The PCMC team launched our XCut saw for the consumer market. The XCut provides superior cut quality with the fastest speeds. Using PCMC’s patented SmartFlow technology, the independent servo-driven lane control allows for ultimate throughput. With the trend to increased roll diameter for certain products, while maintaining historic smaller diameters, the XCut full diameter range clamps allow our customers to meet all consumer needs with a simple push-button grade change.
“With the ever-increasing focus on safety, PCMC revolutionised the safety for operators when entering into the saw. With our automatic blade shield, customers can quickly and safely access the saw without needing to rely on PPE.”
TWM/2: What global events have had the biggest impact on your business in the past year and how have you responded?
Zino: “Plastic replacement and sustainable solution demand represent the two key trends impacting our business in 2019.
“Fabio Perini decided to reinforce the message about our effort providing eco-
friendly solutions, launching the campaign “made with green heart technology”. An umbrella covering the complete set of solutions dedicated to the environment protection.
“In 2019, Fabio Perini was the first company in the world to present a prototype of a kitchen/towel roll combining existent sustainable technologies, with an absolute novelty, the water lamination also for kitchen rolls.
“In addition to this new technology, Fabio Perini presented the glue free solutions, barring the use of glue both in lamination (Aquabond) and in the
initial pickup of tissue around the
core (Web Tuck system Rewinder), thus reducing the environmental impact and saving glue cost.
“Furthermore, we revamped the patented Solid and Solid+ coreless technology to produce full rolls that
can keep the product’s structural characteristics, increasing by 16% the amount of tissue per roll with the same diameter, and attaining a 10% reduction of packaging required for the same amount of product transported.
“In addition, Fabio Perini recently presented a series of packaging solutions based on paper coupled with ecologic bioplastics, derived from vegetable starch and waste, creating a product whose characteristics are comparable to those of plastic polymers.”
Giurlani: “I wouldn’t point to single events but to environmental activism in general which is increasing the pressure on all responsible businesses to do what they can to reduce environmental impact and increase sustainability. Our launch earlier last year of JOI Hydro-Bond was very much in this spirit: as a glue-free ply-bonding solution it reduces glue consumption but goes further than that. “There is also the factor of less transport for delivery of the glue itself and reduced environmental load following disposal of the ply-bonded tissue paper.”
Berti: “In 2019, it happened that a Swedish 16-year-old girl decided to miss her school lesson, going on strike to demand attention on climate change. And she made her point. We all woke up and decided to act! Striving for getting more with less has always been a mantra at Gambini, but now it’s an unavoidable change of mind that we’re asked to do.
“2018 had been a difficult year, due to the spiking cost of cellulose; luckily, 2019 has brought the great news of stopping that increase, thus letting investment flourish again all over the world, in the Far East and America more than elsewhere. But we were prepared; as the saying goes: if life gives you lemons, just make lemonade!
“The market gave us expensive raw material; and we just made machines to consume less of it (and get the job done as good as ever). That’s where the AirMill’s inspiration comes from: born to achieve during the converting phase the same – or better – results (in terms of roll diameter and absorbency), using in the papermill less cellulose, less energy and less time (less complexity). “AirMill brings the paper-making process in the converting plant, making customers save money, consumers feel no difference and Greta smiles!”
Deniz: “We believe living standards around the world are increasing, which places a greater demand on tissue needs. In the marketplace, companies are merging, big companies are buying small companies, and some companies are leaving. “ It is opening new doors for us. There have also been financial shifts with banks that have allowed our financial methods to change and orders to increase.”
Kyles: “Consolidations and acquisitions had an impact on new machinery sales
in some markets. Maflex responded by providing technical and engineering services to evaluate machinery capabilities vs. current market needs. As companies acquired many older assists, Maflex was able to offer upgrades on both Maflex and other OEM’s machinery.
“The impact on our company was the balancing act of an already busy production schedule of new machinery and these additional unexpected upgrades and modifications which came our way. “Fortunately, we were able to succeed, because of the increased efficiency of our recently renovated production and office areas in our facility in Lucca.
Calcagni: “For sure the attention towards Industry 4.0 has had an important impact globally in 2019. Some factories replied with the realisation of new products, others worked at implementing the automation level of the existing ones. The focus on this has been really powerful. “Our products are designed to be inter- connected electronically. All are arranged with electronical systems and this is the reason why they can be considered part of Industry 4.0.
“2019 has also suffered the problem of the increase in the cost of cellulose. Only towards the end of the year has the situation levelled off. But throughout the year, raw material’s cost kept at high prices. OMET tried as much as possible to maintain the market share even at a time when investment was lowering.”
Green: “High global fibre prices have our customers focused on the need to get more out of every asset on their floor. They will only consider purchasing newassets that emphasize high efficiency and reduced waste.
“Our customers are delighted by our PCMC modifications and process support that provide increased reliability and efficiency of their existing assets. OurPCMC leadership developed a special engineering team to focus exclusively on providing modification support.
With controls obsolescence being at the forefront of every plant manager’s concerns, our mods engineering team is working with customers to develop and execute both short term and long-term plans to reduce production risks.”
TWM/3: What new geographical areas are seeing an increase in demand for tissue products?
Zino: “No big news on geographical trends. China is still on top of the list with the highest compound annual growth rate of 6.2%. We see some interesting trends on the product side such as the “lotion tissue”, introduced in 2018 and continuously growing, and a stable market for the “unbleached tissue”.
“With regards to the installed base, we expect for the coming years a renovation of the converting line technologies and efficiency, a process that already started in the paper making.”
Giurlani: “We have noticed that most regions of the world are now a potential market for high-level technology, whereas in previous years, less developed tissue markets tended to base their machinery- purchase decisions on price. There is an acknowledgement that the benefits of high performance and output are not exclusive to developed markets, and independent companies are just as interested as multinational corporations.
“An important factor is labour costs: wherever these are on the rise, which is in most countries, producers see the value in high-level automation. If I were to single out two parts of the world where the market for high-performance converting lines has grown it would be the Middle East and Africa.”
Berti: “Our North American challenge is a defining one. It is something we have thought about for a long time and whose consequences will affect our bottom line for years to come. Lately there’s been a shift in the US market: people are starting to buy richer tissue products, they have been appreciating higher quality rolls. That’s the trend we’re chasing.
“Quoting a famous movie title, we were used to saying that the US is No Country for Laminated Rolls; well, now it is: and we’re there to serve! Let’s say it like Clint Eastwood would: we consider ourselves as if we were in halftime.
“The first half just ended: it led us to having a new headquarters in Green Bay, plus a great team of servicemen ready to dispatch 24/7. Now we’re in the locker room, discussing how to win the game in the second half. Today, all that matters is what’s ahead. And make no mistake: the industry is going to hear from us. The second half is about to begin.”
Deniz: “We are receiving quite a big demand from Africa. The highest demanded machines are the household rewinder lines and napkin machines. Africa is a growing market. At ICM Machinery, we have become known as a multi-solution company that serves all of our customers’ needs, including important market leading multinational companies in Africa.”
Kyles: “North America and Europe continue to be strong markets for Maflex. For the past several years, Eastern Europe has continued to be one of our biggest growth markets. These markets are transitioning from lower speed and manual type machinery to more automated, faster, flexible machinery.
“2019 saw the Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries stall for medium and small businesses. Many of them upgraded existing lines with new faster, moreflexible rewinders, embossers, and log saws. Existing assets are being sold into other countries which can benefit from used lower speed, manual machines.
“Far-South East countries are growing faster, but with a low pro-capita consumption. We expect a big growth in the upcoming years. The MENA region, thanks to worldwide events, has experienced growth and has increased production up to good levels.”
Calcagni: “Among the geographical areas that are growing the fastest in this field, the South American and Gulf countries are standing out the most. These areas present a trend of appeal towards all tissue products. Whole toilet paper rolls are definitely playing an important role, we’re also seeing the interest moving towards facial tissue and napkins.”
Green: “Central and Latin America are continuously growing markets where our innovative and reliable Forte and AMICA rewinding technology has fuelled important collaboration projects with new and existing players in that market. In order to support this growth, we have recently reconfigured and enhanced our sales and support team to better answer to the key activity in Central and Latin America.”
TWM/4: What are the latest automation features helping to improve production efficiency?
Zino: “Fabio Perini presented the Tissue Performance Centre, a next generation technologic environment where expert engineers, supported by company data scientists, continuously register and analyse customers’ data, to supply information on the machines’ status and suggest improvements to maximize theoverall equipment effectiveness (OEE) of the production lines.
“Thanks to a direct connection with the customers’ machines, the Tissue Performance Centre can now work proactively, not just reactively as it used to in the past.
“The on-line visualisation of operating parameters allows a continuous evaluation of their status and helps pointing out potential anomalies.
“This continuous improvement will take us in the near future to a learning machine capable of autonomously interpreting data and improving on its own machine performances under every condition.”
Giurlani: “With Plusline, we have seen and extension of higher-level automation into packaging. Futura’s Andromeda remains the only system on the market which fully automates all processes from the jumbo reel to the rewinder, including maintenance activities, in complete safety for the operator.
“In packaging the shortest time required for product changeover has been 30 minutes to an hour. But on the Together line from Futura and Plusline, changeover is actioned from the PLC – the only manual operation is changing the poly reel, which requires 5-10 minutes.
“Another innovation we have introduced is vision cameras. Unlike a standard camera, which relays images for interpretation by the operator, with vision cameras the images from the line are interpreted and instigate action, meaning the line can react and adjust automatically in response to issues with the tissue web or winding.”
Berti: “We at Gambini have a new internal thumb-rule: if you say too many times words like innovation or flexibility, then consider starting over and beginning from scratch. Beware of catchphrases, like Industry 4.0 or digitalisation! We call them placeholder text: they don’t mean anything, they’re just on everybody’s mouth. Well, not ours!
“We prefer staying on real issues, like: as a result of mass immigrations, the low- level working force is shifting towards the less-skilled spectrum and this must be accounted for, while designing the line of the future; and the Greta effect, as well, should be factored in. The result is the machinery of the Twenties, which must consume less energy and less raw material. As simple as that. We like thinking of values, not just features: this is how we do our part as humans.”
Deniz: “Smart machines are making operator jobs very easy and safe. Reducing the margin of human-caused errors in our latest automation features has an effect on improving production efficiency. We are learning from customer feedback and it shapes our strategies, as well as our short and long term targets.
“They want the machine to follow the correct procedure, as in a smart machine concept, and be programmed to apply new conditions step by step, including warning systems if a mistake has been made, and corrections, so the machine can keep running.”
Kyles: “Thanks to our software and interactive HMI’s, customers can monitor their production and better understand how to respond to increase efficiency.Owners and managers can access data remotely to ensure productivity is maintaining peak performance 24-7-365.
“Additionally, Maflex is continuing to integrate more robots and automations in machinery and processes. This minimises safety exposure as well as increasereliability/efficiency. Some examples of these are the Core-less automation in our Start-stop series rewinders, Automatic Roll Change System on our HERACLE Embosser Laminator, and Core Winding Process – check out our presentation at Tissue World Miami on 12 March at 1:00pm.”
Calcagni: “OMET has been involved in Industry 4.0 for several years. All our machines are prepared for it, keeping in mind this new relevant concept. The benefit consists in a general supervision on the production and on the machines, as well as in the possibility of controlling and planning at best the energy usage.”
Green: “Our team is working with customers to utilize the latest in IoT technology to bring data into the hands of our customers in ways that will allow them to make better decisions and take actions that will improve their OEE and efficiencies.
“Our SmartTOUCH HMI allows a whole new ability to understand the operation of the equipment. Utilising the latest research in lean cognitive ergonomics, our new HMI will allow for quicker training of operators in our challenging global labour market.”
WM/5: What new converting machine technologies will be leading the marketplace in 2020 and why?
Zino: “In addition to the same trends we followed in 2019, for the 2020 we see a high competition both on price and quality level on the mass market retailers.
“To help our customers to differentiate themselves and to develop new products with a limited time to market, Fabio Perini will launch in the first quarter of 2020 the new worldwide centre of excellence “Pivot Solutions”, where the new Constellation Pilot line, based in Lucca, will be the “cherry on the cake”.
“This line will be equipped with the latest technologies (aquabond, warm up, Self-Adjusting Machines to check paper caliper in real time, Leonardo lotioner…).In this new centre, our customers will be able to test products in real production conditions and execute promotional launches or even small production batches for small supermarkets or retail chains.
“An additional strategic asset is definitely the integration with the world of engraving, thanks to the synergies between Engraving Solutions and Roll- Tec.”
Giurlani: “Together of course! We see this as a strong development for 2020 – the first orders have already been received just weeks after its launch. The increased demand for automation from the customer explains why Together’s time has come. Customers are increasingly aware of the possibility which high-level automation offers to reduce costs and Together extends this to packaging.
“Responsibility towards the environment is also a major motivating factor and solutions to reduce use of plastic are increasingly popular. The ability to use thinner poly wrap on Plusline’s Overpack technology is a perfect example of how to achieve the desired result in terms of protection, while slashing the use of plastic.”
Berti: “Customers know what they need and ask for it very clearly. We can sum it up to one single request: make me as recognisable as you can. Which translates into: let me produce something unique, that nobody else can.
“Differentiation is the key: we know it’s a gigantic and strategic leap, as no one wants to feel one among thousands. But that’s our job and we know how to do it. Our lines really provide this kind of power to our customers: it’s no magic, it just comes from how they’re carefully designed, to adapt to different cultures, markets and customs.”
Deniz: “Smart machines will be leading the market. In 2020, user-friendly operation interfaces, easy-operate and setting functions for trainee time and artificial intelligence, and the cloud system will be important.
“Aside from that, complete line solutions from one source will be more important for maintenance and service. Customers want to have machinery that speaks the same language, and want one company to be both the creation source and the solution. If we can offer complete solutions for our customers, they will beconfident in the solutions we offer in the future.”
Kyles: “Our customers are looking for safe, efficient, and flexible machines. They expect fully automatic machines with push-button control of automatic parent reel changes, core diameter change, embossing pattern change with auto set- up, and HMI recipe product changes. This allows them to minimise safety risk, to reduce manpower, and increase efficiency.
“Maflex machinery and innovations allow our customers to become more competitive in their respective markets. Their operator’s focus changes from running the machine, to controlling quality and monitoring efficiency. Their sales and marketing groups can easily drive and/or respond to product marketing changes without additional time and money required to purchase new machinery.”
Calcagni: “New products will be launched both for tissue and interfolded market during 2020/2021. Everything will be focused on an increase of efficiency, security of the operators and an extreme attention towards power consumption.”
Green: “There’s a general trend toward more automation in the converting line that is consolidating and taking new exciting directions. This trend started several years ago, driven by the need for quicker changeover times and more flexibility.
“While features like automatic steel roll change and parent reel change are considered standard options, more sophisticated automation packages and technologies are available to the customer to increase safety, productivity and quality. The converting line is no longer isolated from upstream and downstream equipment, but finally considered a keypart of the entire production system, thanks to smart and connected machines and advanced data analytics. Those technologies are really changing the converting world.
“Flexible converting solutions continue to drive customer behaviour – specifically those that adapt quickly to changing market conditions and distribution channels, with an increasing awareness and focus on maintenance costs, long-term serviceability and ease of operation and training.”