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March, 2007

Pack in action – the role of printed tear-tapes

“As the pack mechanism that provides the vital first access point between the consumer and the products they have purchased, there can be no doubt as to the impact that a properly printed tear-tape can have,” says Nigel Mawditt, managing director of Accu-pac, explaining the role of printed tear-tape and how it should form part of an overall communications strategy that involves the whole pack.

The tear-tape has long been identified as having great potential for messages that are viewed as a pack is opened. However, to make it work effectively the messages need to be in the correct position relative to the pack face, without loss of position caused by film stretch or slippage.

Despite its relatively small surface area, tear tape does offer some surprising ways to get creative. As long as the consumer can access the pack easily, then there is no reason why a combination of different colors, printed messages, and different widths of tape cannot be used.

Also, rather than a short message repeated many times so that at least one will appear on the front of the pack complete, Mawditt says it is better to have a clearer single message. Print registration of the tape message allows a much longer single message to be used and positioned accurately. Also a private message on the reverse side of the tape can be used, again using the full length of the tape for one message.

To achieve this requires correct positioning of the tear-tape relative to the pack and with correction, or rejection, for any misalignment or slippage.

While there are some newer machines providing this as standard, there are still many very serviceable machines that did not provide for this function as standard. With many manufacturers reluctant to purchase expensive new equipment en masse, Mawditt noted, the answer is to upgrade machines through retro-fit solutions to provide for print-registration.

This option comes as a pre-engineered system that can be fitted to most popular wrapping machines including Focke, Molins, GD, etc., and then provides a simple-to-use operator interface via touchscreen.

As well as providing accurate print registration it also makes the setup and changing of tear-tapes, even of different designs, much easier and able to be done without the need for any factory engineering support.

The tear-tape can be regarded as similar to a billboard, says Mawditt — it creates interest and can have a call to action, but is often only seen relatively briefly. This is either on product displays, or as the pack is handled and opened. Unless the tear-tape carries particularly useful information, such as an address for a specific Web site address or promotional code, then it is unlikely to be retained.

So, having created interest via the outer pack (printed tear-tape and film), what can manufacturers do to hold and continue this communications opportunity?

The answer is to regard the pack as a whole and consider communications that can evolve from the outer pack though to the inner pack.

“Open up most packs and the first thing visible inside is the inner bundle and inner frame card,” said Mawditt. “While many foils, or paper wrappers, are embossed, textured, and in different colors, the inner frame card always seems to be plain and in just a few basic colour ranges.

“The major advantage of being able to use the inner frame card for printed communications is the impact as it is viewed when the pack is opened and on each subsequent opening. This contrasts with the outer film or tear-tape, which is viewed once on opening and then discarded. It also allows an increased level of messaging and impact at relatively low entry cost, when compared to board or other pack changes.”

The perceived drawbacks with the inner frame area according to Mawditt, are that it doesn’t present a large area for messaging (as with tear-tape) and that it needs to be positioned very accurately within the pack, limiting the ease of its use for printed communications.

While the available area isn’t that large, with the right print positioning systems in-place, manufacturers can make the most of the space available with multicoloured designs and text.

Unlike some other pack changes, utilizing the inner-frame to use printed inner-frame designs and messages doesn’t require major engineering or new equipment. It is possible to retro-fit a modular pre-engineered system in a matter of days to most popular cigarette packers that will provide for the fully automated control of the positioning of printed (or non-printed) inner-frame cards. This system is easily configured from an operator-controlled touchscreen to allow easy change-overs when the print design changes.

Importantly, the inner-frame system does not have a negative effect on a machine’s inherent operational efficiency and can be used at normal full production speeds.

According to Mawditt, “Just as consumers expect tobacco products that are of a consistently high standard, so their awareness of communications is often very high and therefore they expect innovative, creative, ‘personalized’ communications that are consistent with their brand expectations. Increasingly the only way to address these expectations is through the pack itself and using the whole pack provides a range of communications options that can be used in an interactive way.”

Accu-pac, 1 Springwater Park Crew’s Hole Road, St George, Bristol, England BS5 8AN; Tel: +44 (0) 117 954 1212; Fax: +44 (0) 117 954 1321; Web: www.accupac.co.uk.

Internal shrink tightener a good fit

Marden Edwards Ltd., the UK-based manufacturer of overwrapping and shrinkwrapping systems, recently supplied its first overwrapper to incorporate an integrated shrink tightening system fitted within the frame of the machine.

Marden Edwards developed the ST100 Shrink Tightener to enable the wrap on uniform products such as cartons to be tightened using a controlled amount of heat, applied to the finished wrap through heated belts. The system is ideal for cigarette producers who are looking for improved wrap quality and enhanced shelf appeal and now insist on a skintight overwrap. Although a traditional overwrap is tight, any slight variation in the size of the outer box can lead to small “stress” lines at the edges of the wrap. The ST100 offers the ideal solution as it not only draws the film very tightly around the pack but leaves the tear-tape straight, still allowing the wrap to be easily removed.

The external unit, already in use by a number of manufacturers, has the advantage of being portable, enabling it to be connected to any existing machine and easily integrated into the production line. However, where space is at a premium it is not always possible to find room to mount the unit and Marden Edwards decided to look at ways of providing a system offering the same finish quality without taking up extra space.

The result is a completely new design that integrates into the frame of the machine, without increasing overall machine size. This has proved possible due to the versatility and adaptability of the Marden Edwards overwrapping system. Extra space has been created within the machine by reducing the length of the folders.

The carton itself is overwrapped and sealed in the normal way, before side belts transport the cartons to a vertical heat-sealing plate that shrinks the top and bottom faces of the carton. The belts then drive the finished packs out of the machine.

All product and human safety features are built into the system. For example, if the machine stops running with a carton in the heat shrinking zone, the heated plates automatically retract far enough away so as not to transfer heat to the carton.

The new Internal Shrink Tightener can be specified on new machines and it is also possible to retrofit the unit to some models of Marden Edwards overwrapper, although this will require the machine to be returned to the Marden Edwards factory for the work to be done.

Marden Edwards Ltd., 2 Nimrod Way, Ferndown Industrial Estate, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 7SH; Tel: +44 (0)1202 861 200; Fax: +44 (0)1202 861 400; E-mail: sales@mardenedwards.com.

MM Packaging set to expand rotogravure lines

Just a few months after the start-up of a new 10-color rotogravure line at its recently completed second cigarette packaging site in Cherkassy, Ukraine, MM Packaging is again accelerating its speed of expansion. A second rotogravure machine will be commissioned in April, and a third line is scheduled for the end of 2007.

“Confidence in the demand on one of Eastern Europe’s most dynamic markets as well as our international customers’ high loyalty reassure us in our strong commitment to the Ukrainian and growing neighboring markets,” said Andreas Blaschke, member of the Mayr-Melnhof Group’s Management Board, responsible for global packaging sales.

The current rotogravure expansion program marks a historic milestone, as the company now offers outstanding capacities in all three technologies (rotogravure, flexo, offset) from its two Ukrainian facilities.

Mayr-Melnhof Packaging is Europe’s No. 1 producer of folding cartons with 25 plants in 11 countries, and the leading manufacturer of cigarette packaging in rotogravure, offset, and flexo printing. The company converts approximately 530,000 tons of cartonboard and paper per year and employs more than 4,500 people.

Mayr-Melnhof Karton AG, Brahmsplatz 6, A-1041 Vienna; Tel.: (+43/1) 50136 – 1180; Fax: (+43/1) 50136 – 1195; Web site: www.mayr-melnhof.com.

Payne Celebrates ‘Italianicity’ with BAT Italy

UK-based Payne, a division of Filtrona plc, recently proved its ability to provide effective speed to market with BAT Italy’s launch of a special cigarette pack to celebrate “Italianicity.”

BAT Italy is a longstanding champion of tear tape on cigarette packaging, as a means of providing easy opening and branding and communications. The flexibility of tear tape allows the company to devise short-run promotions, such as a celebration of national pride involving a design based on the colors of the Italian flag.

The project required a swift response on Payne’s part, as BAT Italy wanted to launch the promotional packs within a tight time frame. Produced at Payne’s manufacturing facility in Nottingham, UK, the tape was delivered to BAT Italy within four weeks.

The promotional design, which is featured on special packs of MS cigarettes, is a continuous Italian flag with vignette, for which Payne used eight print stations to create vivid colors and a perfectly smooth finish.

“Payne has again proved itself a flexible and supportive partner, producing a high-quality tear tape in record time,” said Alberico Festa, procurement manager of BAT Italy. “The result is an ideal method of celebrating Italian pride with our consumers.”

Payne, established in 2005 from the merger of PP Payne, Morane, and Laminex, is a leading provider of coated film, tear tape and security products. The company operates from 11 sites in eight countries worldwide and employs more than 390 people. Within these facilities Payne has access to seven specialist printing presses, including state-of-the-art gravure presses in Nottingham and in Richmond, Va., along with a range of specialist coating and converting equipment.

Payne, Tel.: +44 (0) 115 975-9000; Fax: +44 (0) 115 975-9001; E-mail: stephanieturner@payne-worldwide.com; Web site: www.payne-worldwide.com.

Premcourt looking to grow after merger

The recent merger and investment in Premcourt Services Ltd. by the directors of ACE Interactive Ltd. is expected to be a big win for Premcourt, which will be independently operated with the goal of reintroducing its classification equipment and associated developments to the wider international tobacco industry.

According to technical consultant Chris Morris, “This merger creates an excellent platform for the structured growth and further development and design of the Premcourt equipment range, while benefiting from additional commercial, marketing, and management disciplines of the new owners.”

Morris and other key personnel will be retained to ensure a smooth transfer of operation and manufacturing. Sales and Projects will be headed by Wayne Hine, with technical support from Morris and Russell Hill. The company plans to participate in the upcoming Paris TABExpo to present the latest developments and innovations in its patented classifiers and discharge units.

Premcourt Services Ltd., Unit3 – 94 Charlton Rd., Andover; Tel.: 01264 350508; Fax: 01264 356281; E-mail: sales@premcourt.co.uk.

BEST introduces new platform for tobacco sorting

Due to its state-of-the-art, worldwide patented Free-Fall Laser Technology, BEST NV (Belgian Electronic Sorting Technology) has attained several projects for sorting Lamina-threshed types of tobacco (Virginia, burley, and also blended types of tobacco) over the last couple of years and has lately again become a significant processor in Greece — specifically for sorting Oriental leaf tobacco.

In addition, BEST recently introduced the new HELIUS platform to the market, which is the successor of the ARGUS Free-Fall Laser Sorter. The HELIUS Laser Sorter offers unparalleled efficiency with up to 12 laser signals to enable sorting based on color, structure shape, and more. Its technology is much more advanced, offering many advantages such as the intuitive Graphical User Interface, which translates sorting requirements to the hardware processing platform in no time. The hardware platform can further be accessed from networks anywhere on the world, and due to the new centralized data management, data losses caused by computer or software failures can be avoided. A new versatile modular design allows easy integration into existing tobacco lines. It further facilitates cleaning and sanitation and reduces maintenance to a minimum as there are less moving parts.

The highly advanced free-fall laser technology is not only successful in sorting Lamina, it has also set new standards in sorting tobacco stems, cloves, flowers, etc., for capacities up to 8 tons/hour with incredibly low false reject rates. BEST’s high-capacity belt laser sorters offer high-speed solutions (pre-acceleration belt) with top and bottom inspection.

BEST NV, Romeinse Straat 20, 3001 Heverlee Belgium; Tel.: +32/16/396.396; Fax: +32/16/396.390; E-mail: info@bestnv.com.

TechTeam gets Philip Morris contract

TechTeam Global Inc., an information technology outsourcing services provider, said it has agreed to a five-year contract with tobacco company Philip Morris International to provide information technology support services to the tobacco giant.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

TechTeam will provide help desk support services in five languages for PMI’s information technology infrastructure in Italy, United Kingdom, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, and France.

The services will be delivered from PMI’s Krakow, Poland-based shared-services center to more than 9,000 workers.

TechTeam will see an estimated $4 mn in revenue from the pact. In 2005, the company booked revenue of $166.5 mn.

TechTeam Global Inc., 27335 West 11 Mile Rd., Southfield, MI 48033; Tel.: 1 248 357-2866; Fax: 1 248 357-2570; Web: www.techteam.com.

Tobacco International - March, 2007

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