Innovation Drives Converter of Pressure-Sensitive Labels

Sinel Systems S.A. is located about 30 miles from Barcelona's famous "La Rambla." The firm is Spain's leading manufacturer of pressure-sensitive labels and ranks among the top 15 of all European label producers. More than 65 years old, the company is now located in a brand new factory, which also serves as executive offices.

An integral part of the $35 million Caposa Group, Sinel Systems comprises two operating divisions—Sinel and Caposa Labels. Sinel produces "VIP" labels used primarily for logistical applications and bar codes. Caposa Labels is devoted to the manufacturing of labels and labeling systems for a wide range of consumer products. The other main subsidiary of the Caposa Group is Apli Paper S.A., which produces stationery and printer products.

During an exclusive Paper, Film & Foil CONVERTER visit to the plant, Sr. Jaume Puigbo, the firm's chief executive and son of its founder, explained, "Our future as a pressure-sensitive label supplier is quite bright because of the vibrant European trend toward micro-marketing and the increased use of bar coding."

The firm began operations in 1932 manufacturing office products. After supplying a wide range of office products between 1932 and 1958, the Caposa Group reportedly became the first company in Spain to produce p-s labels using in-house technology (1958).

In 1962 the company developed its first label printing press, and after that, innovations followed almost annually. In 1998 the company manufactured its first labels combining ultraviolet flexo and rotary silk screen technologies.

Apli Paper, founded as an entity in 1996, offers products such as self-adhesive labels for desktop printers, electronic data processing labels (EDP), and label printing software. Poised for strong growth, Apli is active in more than 70 nations and is the market leader in Spain, with 110 employees and $15 million in sales.

Dedicated to Pressure-Sensitive
Sinel Systems ($19 million sales and 188 employees) is the division responsible for the manufacture of labels used for the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) markets. It is reportedly the first Spanish label converter to receive the ISO-9002 certification and is in the process of receiving ISO-14000 (environmental) certification.

The company is dedicated strictly to the production of p-s labels, capturing almost 15% of Spain's market. Out of a total of approximately 200 million sq m of roll-fed, p-s material used in Spain, the Caposa Group converted 25 million sq m during 1998-practically double that of its nearest competitor. (There are an estimated 2,500 p-s converters in Europe, with about 200 in Spain.)

A walk through the new $6 million plant-designed by Gabriel Mora, the architect responsible for Barcelona's famous Telefonica building, illustrates exactly how properly executed design can enhance a factory. Spotless and with flexible distribution between office and factory personnel, the facility is one of the largest p-s label converters in Europe.

Sr. Puigbo says, "Caposa was the first Spanish self-adhesive label converter in 1958. At that time Spain was a closed market with customs duties of 70 percent and import quotas. We decided to invest in our own coating technology and bought a manufacturer of self-adhesive sticking plaster, Cyg Products [called at that time Productos Codorniu y Garriga S.A.], which had been established in 1910."

Today, with Spain in the European Union and the euro around the corner, market conditions are radically different.

The plant has 16 narrow web printing presses combining a variety of silk screen, letterpress, flexo, offset, and stamping techniques. The three Gallus 200 presses have eight stations (letterpress and silk screen), and one of the presses includes a stamping station. There is also a Gallus 250 (seven stations, letterpress plus flexo); a Gallus 180 (six stations, letterpress, silk screen, stamping); and a Gallus 33 (six stations, letterpress, silk screen, stamping.)

The three Arsoma presses have seven, four, and two stations and utilize flexo, with the seven-station Arsoma press possessing an additional silk screen station. There is one dedicated Aldo Berra press, which has four stations (stamping). Also available is a Webtron four-color flexo press; a Marbach three-color flexo press; and a two-color Herma flexo press. In addition, there are two Imer two-station offset presses and one Omega offset press.

Development Is Constant
Developments in printing technology have included labels combining UV, flexo, and rotary silk screen technology; glossy labels for the rapidly expanding CD-DVD market; and a line of label design software designated Sinelsoft 4.2.

This software allows the user to print sequential numbers, bar codes, clip art, and print data from most popular databases. Labels for industrial, retail, or freight labels are printed easily with Sinelsoft, the company reports.

Self-adhesive stock is sourced from coaters all over Europe, including Raflatec OY, Fasson, Ritrama, Jackstadt, and MACtac. Inks purchased from Akzo Nobel and Sicpa are mixed in Sinel's ink room.

New developments at Sinel include "smart" labels that utilize radio frequency for transport use in luggage retrieval; see-through labels using both polypropylene and polyester films; a variety of anti-theft/anti-counterfeiting labels; and scratch-off and aromatic labels.

Customers include a diverse group of companies across Europe. Among those in Spain are Cortes Ingles, Coca-Cola, Henkel Iberica, Nestle Espana, and Level Espana. More than 15% of production is exported to nations such as France, Portugal, Poland, China, Argentina, and Morocco.

Information Meets the Challenge
In late November 1999, Sinel Systems started up the new SAP R/3 ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, reportedly becoming the first label converter in Spain to introduce this advanced information system.

The SAP project has taken almost a year and a half and involved an investment of almost two million euros. A company spokesman says, "This effort has been worthwhile in both human resources and financial terms, since it allows us to offer our customers and suppliers an absolute guarantee that we will be totally prepared to meet successfully the challenges of the year 2000 and the introduction of the euro."

At the same time, the company has introduced a data capture system in the factory, which facilitates the control of production, thereby allowing it to obtain error-free information in real time.

In the next few months, Sinel intends to install a totally computerized production planning system, which will allow the plant to carry out simulations and offer a quick response to the scheduling changes its customers demand.

Sr. Puigbo, a Brown Univ.-educated Ph.D. (mathematics), was largely responsible for Sinel's state-of-the-art computer network and enhanced communications technology.

With its vast array of equipment and commitment to new technology, Sinel is in an excellent position to meet all the challenges of the future.

Supplier Information
Akzo Nobel Inks, Langhorne, PA; 215/750-9191; 800/989-4657; akzonobel.com

Aldo Berra s.r.l., Garlasco, Italy; +39 382 822234

Arsoma, dist. by Lapeyra y Taltauull S.A., Barcelona, Spain; +34 93 455 88 06

Avery Dennison Iberica S.A. (Fasson), Barcelona, Spain; +34 93-264-93-01; fasson.com

Chromas Technologies; Longueuil (St.Bruno), Que., Canada; 450/461-9593; chromas.com

Gallus Group, Gallen, Switzerland; +41 (0) 71-26-86-86; gallus.org

Heinrich Hermann (Herma), Stuttgart, Germany; +49 711 77 02509

Imer S.A., Barcelona, Spain; +34 93 460 8960

Jackstadt GmbH, Barcelona, Spain; +34 934106365; jackstadt.com

MACtac Europe S.A., Soignies, Belgium; +32(0)67 346 211; mactac.com

Marbach, dist. by Slanac S.A., Barcelona, Spain; +34 (9)3 477 49 0 0

Omega Systems (Burton Engineering Ltd.), Yorkshire, U.K.; +44 1262 678161; omega-systems.com

Raflatec Iberica S.A., Barcelona, Spain; +34 93 713 19 00; raflatac.com

Ritrama, Minneapolis, MN; 612-378-2277; 800-328-5071; ritrama.it

Sicpa Benelux NV, Bornem, Belgium; +32(0)3-890-6220; sicpa.com

Factoring Growth
PFFC's visit to Sinel Systems, Stan Sacharow asked chief executive Sr. Jaume Puigbo, "What factors are leading to the rapid growth in the European label market?"

Sr. Puigbo's reply: "As growth factors in adhesive labeling, we can mention the rise of the supermarket; the constantly increasing use of plastic packaging; the growth of personal computing; the growing use of automatic identification using bar codes; the acceleration of e-commerce, meaning more shipments that must be labeled; the increased threat of fraud and theft, meaning more security labels; and the growing amount of promotions for the consumer goods themselves, simple labels in phosphorescent colors or more sophisticated leaflet-type labels, such as the well-known Fix-a-Form label.

"Compared to the direct printing system favored until recently by many manufacturers of health and beauty aids, for example, the self-adhesive system leads to an important reduction of package inventories and an important flexibility in production. Brands such as Nivea have recognized this fact. One single Nivea product alone, Sun Milk, uses 350 labels to cover all languages, protection factors, and sizes."


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