- December 01, 1996, Boyle, Edward
A new FMC servo draw bag machine fits right in at All-Pak, a company that takes customer needs very seriously.
When Fred J. Faletti founded All-Pak Inc., Decatur, GA, in 1962, he did so with a simple belief: "Take care of the customers and the business, and they will take care of you."
That philosophy may seem like standard operating procedure today, but that original focus fueled the company's growth from a distributor of packaging equipment to a mid-sized converter of bags and printed rollstock with state-of-the-art equipment and technology. A key part of that equipment is a recently acquired servo draw bag machine from FMC.
"Our formula for success is recognizing the customers' needs and then growing our company by providing cost-efficient solutions to meet those needs," says Paul A. Faletti, son of the company's founder, who joined All-Pak in 1972 and today serves as president. "We began in bagmaking, but our customers' needs have helped us move into areas such as flexo printing, slitting, laminating, and rollstock."
All-Pak plans to remain a mid-sized converter, says Faletti, "so we're small enough to be customer-service oriented with quick turnaround yet sophisticated enough to service the larger end-user."
All-Pak's 60,000-sq-ft facility houses a variety of prepress, printing/laminating, bagmaking, and finishing equipment. Its prepress operation uses a Bieffebi rubber platemaking system; the pressroom floor houses bagmaking machines from Battenfeld Gloucester Engineering, FMC, and Amscomatic (no longer making this equipment), as well as a Dri-Tec laminator. A separate printing area utilizes three six-color Uteco printing presses, two 48-in.-wide models and one 64-in.-wide model. A new Paper Converting Machine Co. eight-color Vision II flexo press, 37 in. wide, will be installed in January 1997.
All four presses run solvent-based inks from Sun Chemical. As part of the printing expansion, the air conditioned pressroom will be totally enclosed, and a new 18,000-scfm Grace TEC Systems oxidizer will be installed. This will make All-Pak's facility not only environmentally friendly but employee friendly as well.
The finishing area comprises two 63-in. Titan slitters and one 30-in. Stanford slitter.
Buying When the Time is Right
As a rule of thumb, All-Pak acquires new bag-making equipment, presses, or computerized technology for its in-house art department when it is "at least twice as productive" as existing equipment, Faletti reports.
Plant manager Frank Rollins, finishing department manager Harold Wade, and maintenance manager Tommy Evans continually review customer requirements and All-Pak's production capabilities to determine the need for new plant equipment.
Two years ago All-Pak decided it was time to acquire another split roll, flat belt machine to complement its original unit. In a conversation with FMC, Evans discovered that while FMC did not have a machine at the time, it was designing one. All-Pak agreed to purchase that first machine and joined FMC in developing it.
Wade and Evans made several trips to FMC to meet and work with its engineers in the final design and demo stages. The SR-1400 was shown at the Converting Machinery/Materials show (CMM) in Chicago in August 1995 and then returned to FMC for the final checkout. All-Pak actually ran product through the machine at FMC's facility, which helped the FMC engineers address real-life situations before the first SR-1400 was shipped to Georgia.
A critical consideration for All-Pak was more speed with no loss of quality. All-Pak reports that the SR-1400 servo draw bag machine has met all of its expectations. A single operator can produce four times as much product as was previously possible, says Wade. "With this machine, we eliminated three older machines."
The company was also concerned about space restrictions when adding new equipment to the existing facility. "We talked with the engineers about the SR-1400's new way of holding its electric eye; the new system saved a lot of space," notes Wade.
Two in One
The SR-1400 is a 56-in. machine that provides converters with a choice of plain or printed sideweld or bottom seal/twin seal bags. It consists of split dual-lane infeed and dancer sections, dual-lane servo-driven draw rolls, and full-width seal bar.
"One of the beauties of this machine is that we can set up two different sizes of bags and run orders for two customers simultaneously," Evans explains. "It's like having two machines in one."
The twin servos provide greater speeds and smoother operation, according to Evans, as well as quick changeovers. The dual AC brushless servo motor draw roll drive allows for easy bag draw length changes, simple split to dual lane changes, and minimum motor maintenance.
An improved unwind V-board design maximizes the usable machine width for two-lane production through close positioning of the V-board tips. By utilizing the electronic control panel, All-Pak's operators can easily switch the bag machine to side weld production. The machine operates at a maximum speed of 200 bags per minute and handles bag sizes from 4 to 60 in. long.
FMC sent an engineer to All-Pak when the machine was installed and returned a month later for several weeks to assure that All-Pak was getting the most out of its new equipment.
"Normally manufacturers don't send engineers on-site for the amount of time FMC did," says Evans. "They were great on initial followup and service. The machinery performs well, and our job is easier knowing we can call FMC's service center if we do have a problem."
In addition to the new bag machine, All-Pak has been operating two FMC 175 wicketers since the 1970s. In the late 1980s the company purchased two FMC 106 servo wicketers to produce large bags for the adult incontinence and textile markets. Evans cites the craftsmanship of the machines and the low maintenance requirements as the reasons for the purchase of two new FMC servo wicketers. These machines routinely perform at speeds of more than 300 bags per minute.
All-Pak's commitment to quality machinery and new technology extends to its press department where "we don't have a press over six years old," notes Faletti. An in-house Macintosh-based art department can take artwork from conception through finished product.
"Typically, mid-size converters might use an outside vendor for artwork preparation and plates," Faletti says. "However, we've invested in a top-of-the-line AGFA imagesetter for our conventional rubber and photopolymer plates. An increasing number of our printing plates are utilizing laser-engraved platemaking technology."
Not only does the art department's equipment allow the company to be more competitive, but it also can shorten delivery times by two to three days. "This is especially important on a new product introduction where the time crunch always comes at the end - the printing and converting stage."
Faletti attributes his customers' highly competitive purchasing practices as the impetus for All-Pak to seek better production methods and more economically priced raw materials without sacrificing product quality and overall service.
Employees Make it Happen
A focus on employees is another key to All-Pak's successful operation. Faletti reports that the company has a low turnover rate, with many employees having more than ten years of service at the company.
After experiencing positive results in the press-room, self-directed work teams were introduced in the bagmaking and slitting departments. Teams give the employees greater responsibility for personally monitoring quality, explains Faletti. "We help them learn to take responsibility and find they get greater job satisfaction."
Ongoing employee growth is tied in with All-Pak's commitment to keeping up with industry technology and the newest and best equipment. In addition to motivating its approximately 100 employees with new challenges, the newer equipment allows the company to be more productive and move toward its goal of doubling in size during the next ten years.
"Our customers have been the catalyst for our growth, and we're looking forward to meeting their challenges as we move toward the 21st Century," Faletti notes. "We know that establishing solid relationships with reliable equipment manufacturers such as FMC is critical in this competitive marketplace."
FMC Corp., Green Bay, WI; ph: 414/494-4571; fax: 414/496-1322.
Bieffebi SPA, Bologna, Italy; ph: +39 (0)51-768580; fax: +39(0)51-767508.
Battenfeld Gloucester Engineering, Gloucester, MA; ph: 508/281-1800; fax: 508/282-9111.
Dri-Tec Inc., Milwaukee, WI; ph: 414/354-3540; fax: 414/354-3541.
Uteco USA Inc., Mount Prospect, IL; ph: 708/290-0022; fax: 708/290-0024.