Diving into Pouches

Providing a broad range of solutions to such leading brands as Frito Lay, Pepsi, and Heinz, Parkside Flexibles knew flexible packaging. But there was still one venture the company had not explored: the flexible pouch. Now, after several years of research and development, Parkside finally dove into unfamiliar waters and surfaced with what the company hopes to be another success story.

Founded in 1958 as part of the Jarvis Porter Group, Parkside has taken many forms, most recently in 2000 with the management buyout of two factories from British Polythene Industries (BPI): Parkside and Britannia Packaging. The company's two U.K. manufacturing locations, with headquarters in Normanton (Wakefield) and a production plant in Stoke, allow it to produce a wide range of packaging solutions for many markets, including food, tobacco, confectionery, toilet tissue, and beverages.

Parkside provides what it calls a “one-stop-shop service” — with the ability to handle projects from design to origination all the way to final printing and distribution. The company also supplies a range of value-added products to its customers, including lamination (using solventless adhesives), coating applications, shrink sleeves, plastic labels, windle, and draw tape bags.

A Long Look, Then into Gear
Parkside prides itself on being at the forefront of developing original concepts and solutions, an ability it considers key to its success. The company reports having the first off-line coater in register and the first Windmöller and Hölscher Novoflex flexographic/digital press to be installed in the U.K. The company also has several other W&H flexo presses as well as a DCM ten-color gravure press. Parkside is also one of the first converters in the world to print on oriented polypropylene, high-speed overwrap tobacco film (supplied by Hoechst, UCB Films, and Mobil Oil/Specialty Products). Parker reports it was the first OPP shrink sleeve converter in Europe.

So with a long-standing reputation and expertise in flexible packaging, Parkside seemed destined to pursue the flexible pouch market.

“This was our first venture into this particular area of packaging, and we have done quite a bit of market research,” explains managing director Geoffrey Stewart.

“For eight years, we had been looking at this market, and because of all of our other problems and consolidation, etc., we had never been able to move the project to a position of go.”

Stewart continues, “When we were able to buy the company from BPI in 2000, it was the first thing I wanted to do. So we put the project into gear as soon as we became Parkside again, but we needed a machine.”

The Right Fit
Through careful planning, Parkside knew it wanted a machine that would be very versatile — a pouchmaker capable of producing small, large, and flat pouches. It also wanted a machine that would set up very quickly.

After evaluating two machines from manufacturers in the Far East, Parkside took a look at Hudson-Sharp Machine Co.

At the time of Parkside's search for a pouchmaker, Hudson-Sharp had just launched its servo stand-up pouch machine, which became its equipment during its acquisition of Proven Designs Inc. (PDI) of Macedon, NY.

The PDI stand-up pouch machine features short-distance cycling with ready position; independent seal bar dwell times; computer-adjustable sealing force; single-web processing; and a three-servo web transport system. It proved to be just the right fit for Parkside.

Says Stewart, “The machine has allowed a reduction in makeready times, provides quick change-over times, offers versatility in the different sizes of pouches that it can produce, and allows us to produce pouches in one piece instead of having to bring three pieces or three webs together.”

Stewart praises the machine's ability to produce pouches quickly and consistently.

“The servo drives have been very critical,” he says. “Also, the electronics on the machine allow us to adjust temperature settings very quickly, and that automatically links into the speed of the machine, so we don't have to set everything individually. It's all linked together.”

Off to a Running Start
As impressed as he is with the features of the machine, Stewart is equally impressed with PDI/Hudson-Sharp's quality customer service, as well as how smoothly the transition has been in bringing the machine from PDI's New York plant to Parkside's Stoke facility.

“I was very pleased with Hudson-Sharp's response. It's a very good machine, very well built, and it was delivered to the U.K. as a turnkey operation. It was bolted to the floor, and away we went. The installation took less than a week. It was fantastic.”

Getting the pouchmaking operation off and running at the Stoke plant also has been a success. Parkside sent two employees, a trainer and an operator, to PDI for two weeks of intensive training. According to Stewart, the response to the machine by plant operators has been extremely positive. “They think [the pouch machine] is superb. They are very pleased with it.”

Parkside already is looking ahead. With space available at the Stoke plant, the company is considering more pouchmaking equipment and possibly the purchase of an extrusion laminator. It is also working on an acquisition in Eastern Europe which, if successful, would allow for even more expansion of the pouchmaking operation.

In just a year of production, Parkside already has supplied a wide variety of markets from confectionery to food, to pet food to industrial manufacturing and tobacco. However, there is still much ground the company wants to cover. Stewart admits breaking into a new market, even with such an impressive success in related markets, has been challenging. “It's not as easy as you might think, because people have to have confidence that you can make these pouches.”

Parkside Flexibles has gone a long way toward building that confidence.

Parkside Flexibles
Normanton (Wakefield), U.K.;
+44 (0) 1924 898074;

Proven Designs Inc./Hudson-Sharp Machine Co., Green Bay, WI; 920/494-4571; hudsonsharp.com

Windmöeller & Hölscher, Lengerich, Germany; +49 5481-14-0; wuh-lengerich.de

UCB Films, Smyrna, GA; 770/434-6188; ucb.com

Mobil Oil/Specialty Products, Fairfax, VA; 703/846-3000; exxon.mobil.com

Hoechst Celanese, Charlotte, NC; 704/554-2000

DCM, Cedex, France; +33 141 37 5271; dcm.fr

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