Q: How would you characterize the current market?
A: Generally speaking, we are seeing customers and areas of the market that have grown steadily and continue to grow. There are other areas that have slightly declined the last two years, but now are showing a cautious but positive approach. There are new market niches where flexible packaging is drawing more interest. Also, customers continue to exhibit interest in a machine with versatility.
Q: What are customers looking for in general and with specific features?
A: Many customers aren’t looking at one machine that is dedicated to a specific style pouch. They want a machine designed to handle changeover efficiently and to run many style pouches accurately and fast. Customers continue to ask for stand-up pouch capabilities, but now are considering a machine that can provide a quad seal as well. One optional feature that we get positive feedback from our customers is our round-corner punch and double-cut features. Customers that want full repeat printing and round corners without a hook/step in the pouch appreciate these options, which also provide high accuracy and consistency.
Q: What kind of technology advancements are you providing them?
A: Totani is investing in increasing the speed and capabilities of our Box Pouch machine as well as adding a Quad Seal forming section to our CT60D Stand-up Pouch machine. Customers want network connected machinery and data management systems. Totani is debuting a new Data Communication System and software package at Pack Expo 2010.
Q: What roles do sustainability (on the materials side) and production efficiency (on the machinery side) play?
A: In answer to the first part of the question, customers are starting to run newer film structures such as biopolymers or polylactic acid (PLA) film blends on our machines. In answer to the second part of the question, production efficiency is very important as well as minimizing start-up and running scrap. Feedback from customers indicates that minimizing the amount of trim that has to be removed from a pouch is very important.
Q: Where do you see the bag-making market heading?
A: There are many markets other than pet and human food that are starting to accept flexible packaging, especially stand-up pouches or other formats. There is growth already in changing from multiwall paper to woven or laminated film structures. We are also anticipating more growth outside the U.S., particularly in Mexico and South America.
Q: What’s one lesson learned that you can share that would help converters that are using bag-making equipment?
A: Nothing is more important to setting a good impression and establishing a solid reputation than shipping the highest quality pouches the first time and thereafter. At Totani, we pride ourselves in our customer training and service policies as much as the machines’ solid reputation.
Totani America Inc.