One of Finland’s leading manufacturing suppliers of laminated flexible packaging for the food industry, Westpak Oy AB, has installed a Comexi ML2 laminator at its production facility in Säkylä, some 200km north-west of the capital city of Helsinki. Significantly, it is one of the first of the new Comexi laminators to be fitted with Vetaphone Corona technology under an agreement between the two companies at the launch of the ML2 series in 2016.
Westpak, which was established in 2008, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the short-run printed packaging markets of Scandinavia and the Nordic countries, and chose the Comexi ML2 with this requirement in mind. Speaking for the company, Managing Director and co-owner Jonas Skuthälla explained: “We needed a machine that was quick and easy to make-ready to facilitate the frequent job changes necessary to supply our local markets. The Comexi offered the flexibility we needed to use different adhesives, was a proven design, and offered us a degree of future-proofing as demands change in the industry.”
The ML2 is a top of the range machine designed for both high productivity and versatility and is intended to build on the success of Comexi’s popular Dual model, which it replaces. It is a true ‘operators’ machine’ with a range of gadgets that make it easy to operate, and fast to run. Capable of running solvent, water-based, or solvent free adhesives, the ML2 has a maximum web width of 1530 mm and is capable of 450 m/min, offering cold seal, heat seal, ink, matt and gloss varnish, as well as all kinds of in register applications. Its trolley design permits gravure, solvent-less, flexo, semi-flexo and enclosed doctor blade chamber operation, and customers can specify drying tunnels up to 9 metres long, with independently controlled sections.
The decision by Comexi to recommend Vetaphone equipment on the ML2 was taken after extensive tests of the Danish technology and is hailed as a mark of best practice for Vetaphone, which is the leading supplier of surface treatment in narrow web. The system chosen for Comexi is the newly developed VE1L model that is capable of treating conductive and non-conductive materials and is supplied with the high-efficiency iCorona generator that Vetaphone describes as ‘state-of-the-art’.
Commenting on the new working partnership that has been forged between the two manufacturers, Vetaphone’s VP of Sales, Kevin McKell said: “We are delighted to be working so closely with such a leading wide web manufacturer as Comexi, whose technology is universally respected and admired. For our Corona technology to be approved and recommended for the new Comexi ML2 is key milestone for Vetaphone as we aim to extend our market penetration in wide web.”
Responding for Comexi, Brand Manager Carles Rodríguez confirms that collaboration with Vetaphone was excellent right from the beginning: “We have very strict and demanding specifications that have been successfully achieved during our comprehensive tests. We are more than pleased to welcome on board such a talented group of professionals, with the latest state of the art technology products.”
For Westpak, the tie-up could not have come at a better time, according to Jonas Skuthälla: “The combination of Comexi and Vetaphone is ideal for our operation here. Both are highly respected brands within their own sectors and offer the reliable performance that is essential when you are running 24/7 in a competitive marketplace. We especially appreciate the family business ethics of both companies which translates into excellent after sales support and service,” he said, adding that the new laminating line had performed well and met all expectations since being commissioned. Fitted with a camera to offer lacquering in register, it has allowed Westpak to move some of its cold seal production off the press, and free-up capacity for more print.
The company prides itself on its efficiency and high-quality work. Operating a policy of transparency with its customers, the management is very hands-on and the production process as lean as possible. According to Skuthälla, the company has a programme of continual investment in the new technology that it believes is essential to compete effectively. Beginning with a simple package of equipment that included a flexo press, laminator and slitter/rewinder, the company soon saw the need to refine its capability with the high-quality technology. “When we test new equipment prior to placing an order we always take our operators with us – they have the day-to-day responsibility of making it work profitably. It’s judging the balance between price and performance that’s important and we believe in empowering our people by giving them responsibility.”
Today, Westpak has two CI flexo presses, two laminators, four slitter/rewinders, a laser perforation unit (for easy opening or adding breathability to the packs), and a digital press, which according to Skuthälla has opened new markets that the company was previously unable to serve with traditional technology. “It’s cost effective up to around 3000 linear metres and this has allowed us to tap into new areas of the market, but it still accounts for a small proportion of our business,” he said. With annual sales of €26m and a target of €30m in the next few years, Westpak is keen to grow its business selectively. Unwilling to compete in the high-volume markets, it knows its strength is offering a service tailored closely to its customers’ special requirements and chooses its technology accordingly.
Currently employing 70 in its 4,500sqm facility, Westpak sees itself more as a customer supporter than supplier. “We all run as slim an operation as possible these days and this often means that our customers do not have an in-depth knowledge of production technology and what it can offer. As new substrates are developed and techniques adapt to cope with issues like environmental concerns, we have to work as a partnership – and this applies equally to those whose equipment we use. With know we can rely on Comexi and Vetaphone and this helps us to focus our energy on our customers,” he stated.
Aware that a quality product needs quality support, Jonas Skuthälla says the company invests heavily in the back-up required to keep promises. “Customers need reliability from their suppliers so they can concentrate on what they need to do to keep their ends users happy and will choose to work with companies that make and keep commitments on quality, price and delivery. To meet these criteria, we have to choose our suppliers carefully,” he said, pointing to a number of industry accreditations and awards that adorn the walls of the boardroom, “and clearly we’re striking the right balance!”