Gavin Rittmeyer, Vice President/Sales and Marketing, Martin Automatic.

Q. What trends have an impact on the future of your markets in flexible packaging?

A. The trend toward short-run printing in flexible packaging has made narrower web widths more attractive. Another trend is toward offset and combination inline printing, for a broad range of materials, including film, laminates, paper and board. Martin continues to design and enhance our nonstop unwind and rewind platforms to accommodate these developments. In addition we have seen remarkable growth in the international markets over the past decade. In 2010, our international installations exceeded those of North America. Today we are positioned to grow and service our customers on a global scale.

Q. What do you view as the most significant advances in your markets?

A. With advances in drying and curing technology, along with improvements in drives and controls, presses can now run webs at much faster speeds. At the same time, the increasingly lighter and thinner structures only run successfully at lower web tension levels. These opposing trends of lower tensions and higher speeds present real challenges for splicing and web handling. Not that long ago, a rate of 1500 feet per minute was considered fast. Early last year, on a CI press, we installed a zero-speed splicer (with our MDR Magnetically Driven Roller technology) and automatic rewinder capable of non-stop transfers at 3000 fpm.

Q. What improvements are customers seeking, and how are vendors responding?

A. Seeking higher profits remains a constant with our customers. Generally they seek process advacements that improve their quality, shorten their lead times, and reduce their waste and operating costs. Martin has been helping customers meet those objectives for over 40 years: not stopping for roll changes means jobs are finished sooner; a nonstop process with excellent tension control means higher quality printing, curing and laminating; efficient production means better utilization of resources and less waste.

Q. How does the current interest in sustainability play in your markets?

A. No question that sustainability and “green processes” are capturing a lot of attention. While renew, recycle and reuse are important, we believe the discussion should start with preventing as much waste as possible. For example, the Waste Reduction System on our splicer allows the converter to use the maximum amount of substrate possible–reducing the quantity of core waste that goes to the landfill or the recycler. Utilizing the maximum amount of raw material on a roll results in higher profitability and greater sustainability

Q. Can you cite a recent customer’s benefits of using one of your systems?

A. Product variety and speed to market are key success factors among consumer product companies. The ability to run a broad range of substrates and to quickly change from one substrate to another is vital to maintaining market share and profitability. Recently, we provided a butt splicer and rewind to run 25-micron biaxially oriented polypropylene and up to 19-point paperboard for a customer that ventured from label converting into flexible packaging and folding carton. Easy changeover among the extremes of materials and consistency of butt splice quality allow this and other customers to make the bold move into a multisubstrate environment.

Martin Automatic Inc.