Guts and Glory

Peru-based Tech Pak boasts an arsenal of world-class equipment. Its new PCMC gearless Avanti is the latest addition to its flexo regiment.

It takes guts to start a converting business anywhere. Although Hans Traver's business partner, José Rodrîguez, derided Traver — “He was 80; I was 30. His principal complaint till he passed away at 94 was that I lacked guts.” — about his talents since the two started Lima, Perú-based Peruplast, an extrusion and gravure converting operation in 1962, it's clear guts are one thing he certainly does not lack.

Hans H. Traver is the founder and CEO of Tech Pak S.A., a flexo-concentrated converting sister plant to Peruplast. “In 1985 I acquired the Van Leer plant and started to convert it into a flexo operation,” reports Traver.

Today, Tech Pak boasts an amazing equipment array, blown film extrusion and prepress capabilities, and a brand new Paper Converting Machine Co. (PCMC) Avanti, a 54-in., eight-color, gearless, central impression flexo press equipped with an AVT inspection system.

A World of Power
According to Traver, Tech Pak's sales in 2002 were slightly more than US $18 million, and the extrusion and flexo printing operation is targeting $20 million for this year. “Our future goals involve increasing our export volumes,” Traver explains. “In 2000 exports were under 4 percent of sales; in 2001 [they were around] 6 percent; and in 2002 were more than 9 percent. For 2003 we're dreaming of 16 percent, and why not? All we need to do is try harder and keep doing it right. We have world-class equipment.”

“World” class is right: Tech Pak prints its film-based packaging with presses from around the globe. In addition to the Avanti, Traver says the 110,000-sq-ft operation flexo prints with three PCMC Vision presses, which he began buying in 1997. “I look at the three Visions as my ‘rapid-reaction force’ — super-versatile presses with quick response to customers' demands. They put us on the map.”

In 1995, says Traver, Tech Pak became the first converter in Perú to go to an eight-color flexo process with its investment in Uteco's 42-in.-wide Amber 808. The plant also still operates the presses it started flexo printing with: two Flexotecnica Prismas, both capable of six-color work, both 54 in. wide, installed in 1988 and 1992.

And the company makes no bones about identifying its other film-production and converting capabilities, which include blown film extrusion equipment supplied by Windmoeller & Hoelscher, Kiefel, Battenfeld, and Brazil-based Carnevalli; solventless adhesive laminating machinery supplied by Comexi, Uteco, and Nordmeccanica; corona treatment via its several treating stations made by Enercon and Sherman Treaters; and slitting/rewinding with equipment supplied by Dusenbery, Kampf, and Bimec.

As for materials, Tech Pak extrudes its own low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film and purchases biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) and polyester films from Sigdopack, BioFilm, and ExxonMobil. Traver reports resins are from Dow, Equistar, and Muehlstein, and solvent-based ink suppliers include Sun Chemical, BASF, and ATS. The company utilizes a Renzmann solvent-recovery system for VOC-emission control.

With such an impressive array of world-class capital, it's no surprise Tech Pak has impressive employee policies as well. “After one year, the employee gets one-month of paid vacation,” reports Traver. “We pay double salary in July and December, plus one month's salary [goes] into a savings account.”

In addition, notes Traver, Tech Pak's 210 employees have access to the company cafeteria, where they can get “three hot meals per day.” Employees pay 30% of the cost of a meal ($0.30 net). The company's medical coverage includes the services of a medical doctor in the plant two days per week.

Peerless Prepress
But printing is what put Tech Pak “on the map.” Aside from the company's investment in PCMC's flexo technology, it's invested heavily in an expansive prepress department. “[With it in the plant,] it permits faster attention to customers' requirements, and completion dates and hours are under our own control,” Traver explains. “Synchronization with press characteristics — which are different from press to press — and ink properties also are easier.”

Among its prepress investments: four Apple Macintosh G-4s; two Intel Pentium 4 microchip-equipped PCs; a Scitex scanner; Scitex, Epson, and Hewlett Packard printers (for proofing); mounting products from Esko-Graphics and Scitex; workflow software from Esko-Graphics; an imagesetter from Scitex; and digital CTP capability with an Esko-Graphics CDI.

In addition, Tech Pak produces film-imaged flexo plates with exposure units from BASF and OLEC; its prepress department also includes a plate wash-up unit, drying ovens, and a post-exposure, antitac unit, all supplied by BASF. “We run the prepress department in two shifts, which is sufficient to do an eight-color job the same day, [to have] ready for proof approval by the customer,” says Traver.

These days, after that customer approval, Tech Pak's print products include those printed on the operation's brand new Avanti. Installed in the fall of 2002, Tech Pak's gearless Avanti delivers high quality printing at speeds of more than 900 fpm, Traver reports. “The experience to date is, with three to four job changes per day, the Avanti will give us more than 16 million linear feet per month…. That's quite a bit of print to sell,” Traver notes.

Servo the Best
During the press selection process, Traver says he and his Tech Pak team considered several production-related issues before going with the Avanti — servo technology being one of them. “An important consideration we [discovered as we] went along was [to decide] between a geared and a gearless press,” explains Traver.

Ultimately, Tech Pak invested in a gearless model, “because of the necessity of precise repeat lengths for roll-fed labels — difficult to obtain even with 5-mm pitched gears,” Traver adds.

Job changeover time (press makeready) also was a key consideration — “because we suffer through as many as six job changes in a day,” he notes. Aiding in the speedy job changes on the Avanti, Traver adds, is the fact Tech Pak utilizes Rossini sleeves, which he says the company specified exclusively.

Other considerations included delivery ability — “Our backlog in printing orders had become rather critical,” he notes — and service. “Lima is in the same time-zone as Green Bay, and we are connected by modem,” Traver explains. “Spare parts via [air shipment] make it [here] in 48 hours. These aspects add up to total press efficiency.” He adds: “With the daily magnificent performance of the Vision [presses] imprinted in our minds, the production people pushed for the Avanti. And I'm always glad to give in to people who know more than I do.”

Pressing for More
Maybe “people” with whom he works and employs know more than Traver about Tech Pak's presses — and maybe not. Whether they do or don't, suffice to say Traver's experience — B.A., business administration, Univ. of Kansas; MS in International Business, Columbia University; five years with Union Carbide Intl. as a product manager, resins; extensive travel — and guts indeed have helped bring Tech Pak to where it is today: a globally competitive company with increasing sales and an increasing need for world-class equipment.

“As near as I can tell,” muses Traver, “we'll need a new press every two years if our volume goes up 5 percent annually. My sales group tells me 2003 sales will increase 15 percent over 2002, but who can trust a salesman?”

Even if Tech Pak doesn't meet that admirably lofty 15%-growth mark, Traver sees expansion this year. “This involves making the investments pay, and that's my job. I think we can go from three shifts, 24 days a month, to four shifts 30 days monthly during 2003, and thus cope with the possible increase in sales, while getting more ROI [return on investment] out of our presses.”

Tech Pak's whole story, here and in real life, is an exercise in “guts.” While here he bravely identifies almost every aspect of his print production and converting capabilities, in real life, Traver oversees a multi-million-dollar converting operation in, what has been in the past, a politically unstable population and government.

And yet Traver's quick to point out it's the Perúvian population that's made the difference. “Perúvians not only learn very fast but are amazingly desirous to improve and advance. That has been a decisive factor, [ultimately] enabling us to assimilate all the imported technology and compete outside of Perú.”

CONVERTER INFO
Tech Pak S.A.

Apartado Postal 1172
Lima 100, Perú
+51 1 348 0482/349-3333; serclientet@techpak.com.pe


SUPPLIER INFO
Paper Converting Machine Co. (PCMC)

, Green Bay, WI; 920/491-6637; pcmc.com

AVT Advanced Vision Technology, Atlanta, GA; 770/984-5432; avt-inc.com

Uteco SpA, Verona, Italy; +39 45 617 4555; uteco.com

Flexotecnica/Cerutti Group, Lodi, Italy; +39 371 4431; flexotecnica.it

Comexi, Girona, Spain; +34 972 47 77 44; comexi.com

Nordmeccanica SpA, Piacenza, Italy; +39 (0) 523-596411; nordmeccanica.com

Enercon Industries Corp., Menomonee Falls, WI; 262/255-6070; enerconind.com

Sherman Treaters Ltd., Oxon, U.K; +44 (0) 1844 213686; shermantreaters.co.uk

Windmoeller & Hoelscher, Lincoln, RI; 401/333-2770; whcorp.com

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

Battenfeld Gloucester Engineering Co., Gloucester, MA; 978/281-1800; bge.battenfeld.com

Carnevalli, Guarulhos-São Paulo, Brazil; +55 11 6413-3811; carnevalli.com

Kampf GmbH & Co., Muhlen, Germany; +49 (0) 2262 81 200; kampf.de

Dusenbery Worldwide, Randolph, NJ; 973/366-7500; dusenbery.com

Bimec Srl, Milan, Italy; +39 (0) 331-307491; bimec.it

Scitex Corp. Ltd., Tel Aviv, Israel; +972 3 607 5755; scitex.com

Esko-Graphics (formerly Barco & Purup-Eskofot), Ghent, Belgium; +32 9 216 92 11; esko-graphics.com

Olec Corp., Irvine, CA; 949/399-6500; olec.com

Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, CA; 650/857-1501; hp.com

Epson America, Long Beach, CA; 562/290-4000; epson.com

Dow Chemical Co., Midland, MI; 800/441-4369; dow.com

Equistar Chemicals, Houston, TX; 713/652-7300; equistarchem.com

Sigdopack, Lima, Perú; +51 1 2542332; sigdopack.cl

BioFilm S.A., Santafé de Bogatá, Colombia; +57 1 630-4470; biofilm.com.co

Muehlstein, Norwalk, CT; 203/855-6000; muehlstein.com

ExxonMobil Química Ltda, São Paulo, Brazil; 55 11 32918500; exxonmobil.com

Sun Chemical Corp., Fort Lee, NJ; 210/224-4600; sunchemical.com

BASF Drucksysteme GmbH, Stuttgart-Feuerbach, Germany; +49 711 9816 0; basf-drucksysteme.de

ATS, Bolzano Vicentino (VI), Italy; +39 (0) 444-250-000; atscolor.com

Renzmann & Grunewald GmbH, Bochum, Germany; +49 (0) 234 94342-370; renzmann.de

Rossini, Buford, GA; 678/482-0835; rossini-spa.it


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