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Nordmeccanica is a global manufacturer specializing in coating, laminating, and metalizing machinery.  The company has more than 3300 installations worldwide and a network of representatives in 87 countries, including China, Italy, India, and the U.S.. Services include an extensive number of technologies from the very compact family of Simplex laminators to the top range of full automatic/high performance coaters-laminators. Product range serves every need in coating, lamination and metallization of paper, films and foil for flexible packing; industrial products; labels; pharmaceutical and more.

The company recently offered solutions and insight into the coating and laminating industry, as well as spoke to Nordmeccanica’s own progressions. Here’s what they had to say:

What are some of the biggest challenges companies face with developing custom coating and laminating equipment in converting lines? What are possible solutions?

Nordmeccanica: We have been providing custom designed lines to the industry since the very beginning once the company was incorporated in 1978. The unique approach was to create an innovation that allowed us to manufacture custom design production lines while featuring a total reliability of the product. In fact, custom design brings with it the risk of prototyping, a risk that converters have been used to deal with. Long lead times, long start-ups, project costs out of control.

The innovation proposed by Nordmeccanica since the beginning was to turn a protype into a standard design. In other words, by implementing a comprehensive list of subcomponents and playing with those components in a sort of Lego approach allowing to integrate most of the configurations required by a constantly evolving industry. In Italy, we say “inventing warm water” while referring to apparently “easy” inventions. No matter how simple it seems, this innovation is not. The vast majority of the OEMs still start custom projects from scratch, delivering products that are difficult to start up and to set in production.

Our approach is, instead, providing turnkey solutions that are reliable since day one, allowing for the shortest lead times and start up time in the industry. This approach proved right during these past hard months of the pandemics. The number of orders for complex, high performance custom designed lines grew significantly as the industry faced a demand out of control for more packaging and higher hygiene standards both in the food and the pharma sectors. Despite the odds, our production lines in the past year and a half recorded minimal to no delays in production, and all lines have been started up successfully.

Therefore, the reply to the question comes quite easy: challenges in custom developed products are connected to the design of a custom line and problems can be taken care by appropriate design.

What are some recent innovations and future advancements Nordmeccanica is focusing on that will improve the converting process?

Nordmeccanica: A general trend in our industry, in compliance with regulations implemented in the direction of recycling and decomposing wastes, is to reduce the number of layers involved in the design of a pouch. To reduce the number of layers implies, consequently, to substitute the function of a given layer with some other solution. And the solution has been identified by almost all players involved: more coatings. Therefore, the hardware side of this evolution, the one we are involved in, requires providing our customers with more coating lines. Coating lines informed to the current state of evolution of the coating technology.

Thanks to our relationship with all global providers of coatings, we are up-to-date to the state of the research. All our products, as a standard, being laminators or coaters, are currently respecting this requirement. But what happens with customers investing today in conversion lines is that need to comply with traditional multi-layers structures, while likely requiring to take care of more coatings and less laminating in the near future. The challenge has been to design integrated custom lines that are able to provide flexibility: laminators ready to convert efficiently the traditional products while being able to evolve into more complex laminating-coating lines as the demand for such structures will grow.

A great help into that evolution is given by our open-design approach. Virtually every product we have delivered in the past 15 years is open to some sort of integration into a multi-functional conversion line. It is, therefore, consequential that all products we are delivering currently are even better open to future evolutions. It is all about integration and modularity. A format we keep implementing and evolving. The next new thing in our industry, as it has happened for all innovations in our segment presented in the past 25 years, will bring our signature. It is fundamental to our politics to have our customers well-informed that their next investment will carry all that is needed to remain state-of-the-art for decades after the start up.

How important is sustainability to your customers, and what solutions can you provide and plan to provide in the future?

Nordmeccanica: There are three sides of sustainability we are dealing with as OEM.

The first is our approach as a company to internal production processes. All of our plants are state-of-the-art in terms of energy consumption reduction, use of renewable energy sources, and emissions.

The second involves our machine design. All of our products are, in fact, top of the industry in terms of energy consumption, process emissions, and scrap reduction. This target is achieved by design and by the use of state-of-the-art technologies and components. We were pioneering technologies such as solvent less lamination at times when most of the industry did not even know about it. We pioneered the use of regenerative motors and drives as a standard more than a decade ago. We select all our partners within those that are able to comply with our demanding approach.

The third and last aspect of our involvement in sustainability is about process innovation. Nordmeccanica partners with all major players in the value chain. The entire industry is working to that target, and we are the OEM of reference. We take a direct involvement in new processes evolution, being firmly convinced that the current technology requires the involvement of all players to achieve serious results. We partner with film manufacturers and with chemical companies. Our involvement is not to provide hardware to demonstrate their products. Our involvement is at project development

stage. We take active part in their product development during the most difficult stage of a project: evolving from a good idea to “market ready” products. Milestones in the technology such as: puplex one shot; triplex one shot; laser die-cutting; digitally printed substrate conversion; just to name a few.

What factors should converters and package printers consider when choosing coating, laminating, and metallizing equipment?

Nordmeccanica: The evolution of our industry, the OEM side of it, is becoming a more integrated one. Years ago, converters had to contact a number of potential providers, compare offerings, evaluate, take the risk of a decision.

Today, we are convinced the OEM industry is evolving into some sort of “automotive” format. Once a consumer buys a car, he does not ask the dealer questions such as: “Who is the maker of the motor that powers the car windows?” The brand is the guarantee. So, while choosing, the brand name has to play the primary factor. A company that runs by far the largest portion of the market, the company that records high customer satisfaction, the company that brings to the industry innovations and new solution should be an easy choice. Once the brand has been selected, then there are the technical aspects, as previously discussed.

A good product needs to comply as a standard with state-of-the-art performances in sustainability. A good product needs to be flexible to future development making an investment safe for a long time. A good product needs to provide operator safety and ease of use at the same time. A good product needs to provide performances in compliance with high quality standards. We, as a manufacturer of all three products in our market segment - coating machines, laminating machines, vacuum metallizers - impose on ourselves complying with all those targets and setting the standard while continually raising the bar.

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