Wide-Ranging European Converter Keeps on Moving

Enplater S.A. ($25 million), which is among the top six flexible packaging converters in Spain, is located in Gerona in the famous Costa Brava region. Historically significant and Catalan speaking, the area is about two hours north of Barcelona on the Spanish coast just 100 km from the French border.

During an exclusive visit by Paper, Film & Foil CONVERTER, plant manager Jose Pardo explained, "Our company started operations in 1962 producing plastic buttons. The unusual geographical location, just several kilometers from Spain's fabled coast, was selected because our founding family had extensive land holdings in that region."

In 1966 Enplater entered the flexible packaging market with the acquisition of a small flexographic press. This was followed rapidly with a switch to rotogravure. Presently, Enplater has four rotogravure presses. Two are from Cerutti (eight and nine colors, both 1,200 m), and two others are seven-color, 1,000-m models. The larger Cerutti also functions as an in-line laminator.

The plant is in a campus-like setting of about 100,000 sq m, with seven buildings. Approximately 160 employees work in three shifts, including 30 in research and development and quality control.

Five extruders run in a separate facility for film extrusion. Two Davis-Standard machines produce cast film, and a unit from Kiefel is for blown film. An additional blown film extruder is custom-made, and an extruder from Er-We-Pa provides film up to five layers in 2.5 m width. Also in use is a Nordmeccanica solventless laminator.

The company produces embossed and stretch polyethylene, cast polypropylene, and a variety of barrier materials.

A superb prepress department, which is being upgraded constantly, features the latest equipment capable of controlling, touching up, and composing images.

Bagmaking is an important part of Enplater's production. Five FMC bagmakers are in use, three producing wicketed bags for bakery products and two for side-weld machines. Finishing is done with 16 slitters.

Markets Open Up
The Spanish flex-pack market ($550 million) is highly fragmented. About 35 converters operate, with the top three converters (Armondo Alvarez, Tobepal, and Danisco Flexible) controlling about $250 million. The remaining market is divided among a variety of Spanish-owned family firms, subsidiaries of multinational converters, and small, dedicated, one-product converters.

Flexible packaging in Spain is poised for dramatic growth in the next decade. Says Pardo, "Until the end of 1975 and General Franco's death, Spain had been closed to most foreign investment. Rapid growth occurred after the Franco era, leading to the formation of many flexible packaging converters. Coupled with globalization and the arrival of the multinationals, Spain now has an unusually large amount of converters."

About 20% of Enplater's production is exported, with the largest markets including France, U.K., Portugal, Netherlands, and Germany. Domestically, the driving force among Spanish converters is the retailing industry. Similar to the U.K., the multi-chain retailers approach food manufacturers for new packages. In Spain the retailers include Pryca and Continente, which has a large stock of private label products. These retailers demand superb print quality and "just-in-time" delivery. Enplater has devoted a significant amount of energy and finances to satisfy these requirements, reports Pardo, adding, "It also appears that many EC nations require different images on each package, leading to an almost limitless variety of packages."

Barrier: The Area for Growth
Growth at the company is slated to be in the barrier film market, says Pardo, noting that Enplater is planning to invest extensively in additional extrusion and gravure machines as well as laminating equipment. This would allow the firm to penetrate markets such as cured meats, cheese, and aseptic packaging.

Present customers include Pepsi-Cola, Schweppes, Nestle, Unilever, Habis Co., and the large Spanish confection producer La Bella Easo.

Enplater's package for Chocolates Torras S.A. was a 1999 Mobil OPPack Award nominee. The structure, which featured Mobil's Oppalyte 35mU842, replaced a paper/aluminum structure.

Additional materials suppliers include Radici Films, Dow Chemicals, Coates Lorilleux, Montell France, and EC Eldocheme.

With rapid service and excellent quality, Enplater is prepared to continue to expand along with its nation's packaging industry.

Supplier Info.
Cerutti Giovanni Officine Meccaniche
, Casale Monferratoro, Italy; +39 0 142 459491; cerutti.it

Coates Lorilleux, Barcelona, Spain; +34 933 84 3600

Davis-Standard Corp., Pawcatuck, CT; 860/599-1010; davis-standard.com

Dow Chemicals, Midland, MI; 800/447-4369; dow.com

EC Eldocheme GmbH, Cologne, Germany; +49 02133554233

Er-We-Pe Davis-Standard, Erkrath, Germany; +49 (0) 211-2404-0

FMC Corp., Green Bay, WI; 800/950-4362

Kiefel Inc., Wrentham, MA; 508/384-1200; kiefel-extrusion.com

Mobil Plastics Europe, Virton, Belgium; +32 063243211

Montell France S.A., Paris, France; +33 0141974343

Nordmeccanica, Piacenza, Italy. nordmeccanica.com

Radici Films SpA, S. Giorgio di Nogentor, Italy; +39 0142411194

Stanley Sacarow, the author of the "Package Converting" column, has been in the flexible packaging industry for more than 35 years. His company, The Packaging Group, is an organizer of targeted conferences and a consultant to the international packaging/converting industry. Contact him at 732/636-0885; univpac@aol.com.


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