Converter's Niche: Innovation

Located about 45 minutes from La Rambla, Barcelona's famed pedestrian thoroughfare, is the Spanish flexible packaging arm of Nordenia Intl., a leading multinational packaging company. Headquartered in Greven, Germany, the parent company began operations in 1966 as Nordenia Kunststoffe Peter Mager KG. The name became Nordenia International AG in 1992, and by 1997 the firm had production facilities on four continents.

One of the top ten flex-pack converters in Europe (approx. $300 million), Nordenia Intl. has manufacturing plants in Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Spain, Morocco, China, US, Canada, France, Brazil, and Malaysia. Divided into three operating divisions, the privately held firm produces flexible packaging in all three, with the bulk coming from the consumer packaging division.

The plant in Polinyà/Barcelona was previously called Inerflexo S.A. However, to create company uniformity, it became Nordenia Ibérica ($32 million) in 2000.

During an exclusive Paper, Film & Foil CONVERTER visit, marketing director Gerrit Nienhausen noted, “We operate on a seven-day, 24-hour basis to meet customer demands. Our proximity to world-class equipment suppliers in Spain and Europe allows us to interact on a daily basis should any production problems arise.”

The facility was acquired by Nordenia from Klöckner Werke AG in 1993. At that time, production amounted to about 4,000 tons. However, output has grown considerably in the past seven years.

With more than 180 employees and five in research and development (there is a large, central R&D facility called Nordenia Technologies in Gronau, Germany), the ISO-9001-compliant plant produces a wide variety of converted stock targeted to the food, hygiene, pet food, and detergent markets.

World-Class Operation
A tour of the spotless plant illustrates the great care its personnel exercise in making certain the material produced is “WCP — World Class Production.”

There are four eight-color flexographic presses, with the newest one installed in 2000 (equipment is proprietary). There are also several extruders producing coextrusions up to three layers for industrial form/fill/seal sacks. Six bagmakers and a variety of slitters complete the plant's equipment inventory.

A dedicated laminator used exclusively for consumer products is housed in a separate room to prevent particle contamination. Fernando Rosell, Nordenia Ibérica's president, explains, “Our personal hygienic market is a vital part of our product mix, and we produce the finest quality material required by our clients.”

A fifth flexographic press, originally in the plant, was sent to the new Nordenia plant in Casablanca, Morocco. Operators from Morocco were trained in Spain prior to the plant's opening.

There appears to be a significant effort to capture a major share of the newly emerging North African market. Presently, Nordenia reports, it's the only major multinational flex-pack converter in Morocco, and the outlook for continued growth is promising.

New Products, New Benefits
The plant has developed several innovative products targeted to the hygienic market. One is “siliconized polyethylene (PE)” film, which involves the application of silicon onto PE film used in the individual wrapping of different products. It replaces waxed siliconized paper as a release liner. Reportedly, the film is easy to use and readily printed on a flexo press. An outstanding development is an air-permeable, elastic side panel for diapers with a built-in closing component, which is fed as a finished composite directly to the customer's converting line.

A further development for the customer group is a thin, high-strength film for packaging a new household hygiene product. Demands for consumer-friendly, reclosable systems do not extend only to flexible film packaging but also to semi-rigid trays sealed with a film. Multilayer films have been developed for this purpose. Once the pack has been opened, the packaging can be closed over and over again. A new generation of composite films, the so-called “Flex-Zi-Box,” has been developed for use as mini-packaging in the form of stand-up pouches for preserved foodstuffs and pet food products.

Arousing great interest among potential customers are films with adhesion properties and high absorbency for numerous applications in presentations and training sessions or in digital printing in marketing and advertising.

By using new raw materials and by continuous product and process optimization, cost-reduction potential for the whole series of film applications is possible. Wrapping films for confectionery and labeling films, in particular, have profited. In some cases, considerable achievements have improved the functional quality of the films for such things as barrier properties, sealing capability, or machine suitability.

Materials supplied by Nordenia Ibérica include PET/PE and oriented polypropylene (OPP)/PE for wet wipes in the beauty and healthcare market. For a powdered drink with 50%-60% of the Spanish market, Nordenia Ibérica supplies printed PET/PE material.

Developments are underway to replace aluminum foil in several applications using internally made specialty PE film, said to offer the best sealing properties even if the material becomes contaminated. Large-size 3-kilo bags for detergent powder refills are made of PET/PE as is stand-up material.

Nordenia Ibérica also supplies OPP (oriented polypropylene) wraparound label stock for PET bottles. The very popular health-oriented yogurt drinks in Europe are shrink-wrapped in six packs with the plant's shrink OPP.

Unlimited Possibilities
“More than 75 percent of our production is targeted to our domestic market,” says Nienhausen. The remaining production is shipped to France and as far away as Central/South America, including such flex-pack centers as Brazil and Argentina. Nienhausen sees fantastic growth in the “wet wipe” market, which is expanding 20% annually.

Nordenia's new computer technology enables it to stock and ship customer orders in a truly efficient manner. Currently on board for few clients, this “Iberica-Special” is said to be working well and to offer the firm unlimited possibilities.

With Nordenia Intl.'s senior management “internationally oriented” and the firm's presence consolidated worldwide, Nordenia Ibérica can look forward to continued growth in both its present and future markets. Add to this the emerging North African market, and you have all the earmarks of a winner!

Nordenia Ibérica Barcelona S.A.
Ctra. Sabadell A Granollers, Km 2.5; E-08213 Polynyâ (Barcelona) España; +34-93 728 74 00;

¡Hola! With four languages, the Kingdom of Spain (pop. 40 million) vividly reflects the complexity of Europe.

A member of the EU since 1986, the nation is a powerhouse of industry with converting second to none. The small “mom-and-pop” converters that dominated under the regime of General Franco have given way to divisions of huge multinationals, with exports on the rise.

Once a mighty empire, Spain still reflects its aristocratic past. “Amigo” is out and “Señor” is in. A formality exists that seems rigid but often is broken during a typical late Spanish dinner.

This land of Goya, Dalí, and Miro is where Europeans rush to escape their long, dim, and dark winters. And they find good food, superb weather, and a welcoming nation.

Stanley Sacharow 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. He is also the author of PFFC's “Package Converting” column. Contact him at 732/636-0885; e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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