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Sewtec opens new R&D center

| November 19, 2013
Simon Reevell MP (right) with Sewtec R&D Manager, Gary Robinson

Simon Reevell MP (right) with Sewtec R&D Manager, Gary Robinson

Automation solutions specialist Sewtec, which designs and installs production lines for the tobacco industry, has invested £500,000 ($805,135) in a research and development center to support customer projects and enable the company to further develop its range of robotic solutions.

The new facility, next to Sewtec’s existing manufacturing headquarters in Dewsbury, U.K., was officially opened on Nov. 14 by local MP Simon Reevell. Also in attendance were representatives from the Kirklees and Leeds city councils.

The 5,500-square-foot building has already resulted in six new jobs, including two graduate designers. A further four positions are anticipated early next year. The company will also create a secure area where confidential customer projects can be developed and constructed in complete privacy.

The Sewtec facility will work with customers to assess the feasibility and costs for any proposed system and create initial test rigs. In addition, Sewtec is partnering with local universities to drive innovation and new product development in specialist areas such as robotic systems, high-speed continuous motion assembly systems, tamper-evident machines and track-and-trace technology.

“The continuing development of technology means both products and pack formats are becoming increasingly complex and this makes the design and installation of effective assembly and packing systems ever-more challenging,” says Sewtec managing director Bernard Meehan.

“Our new R&D center will enable us to provide vital early support work for our customers, which will help to ease the decisionmaking process for investment in new systems. It will also allow us to refine and further improve our design and technical expertise and so continue to expand our product offering and grow our business in both existing and new markets.”

Sewtec was established in 1867 as the design and development house for Singer, the sewing machine manufacturer. In 1982, the company broke away from the sewing industry to become involved in special purpose applications for the worldwide automotive sector. Since 1987 Sewtec has concentrated on FMCG industries, including the tobacco sector. The company employs nearly 100 people and turnover has quadrupled in the last five years.


Safety accreditation for CSi industries

| November 19, 2013

SafeContractor-RoundelMaterials handling supplier CSi industries of Raamsdonksveer, Netherlands, has been awarded accreditation from Safecontractor for its commitment to achieving excellence in health and safety.

Safecontractor is a leading third-party accreditation scheme that recognizes high standards in health and safety management among U.K. contractors.

Employing 450 people, CSi is principally involved in the product handling and palletizing sector, specializing in the fast-moving consumer goods industry.

Under the Safecontractor scheme, businesses undergo a vetting process that examines health and safety procedures and their track record for safe practice. Companies meeting the standards are included in a database, which is accessible to registered users only via a website.

More than 170 major U.K. businesses, from various sectors, use the scheme when selecting contractors for services such as building, cleaning, maintenance, refurbishment or electrical and mechanical work.

Indonesia to accede to FCTC by year end

| November 19, 2013

Indonesian Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi has said that her country will accede to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) before the end of this year, according to a story by Nadya Natahadibrata for The Jakarta Post.

“The treaty accession will be completed through a presidential decree,” Nafsiah was quoted as saying. “The president has agreed. God willing we will accede to the treaty before the end of the year.”

Nafsiah said that three ministries, the Trade Ministry, Industry Ministry and the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, which had previously rejected accession on the grounds that it would hurt tobacco farmers and reduce the state’s income from tobacco excise, had now agreed to Indonesia becoming a party to the FCTC.

According to Nafsiah, the government is currently drafting the text of the decree, which is to be submitted to the Foreign Ministry before being signed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Educate, don’t legislate, on car smoking

| November 19, 2013

The U.K. smokers’ group Forest has urged the government to reject calls to ban smoking in cars with children.

According to new figures released by the British Lung Foundation (BLF), in England alone about 185,000 young people between the ages of 11 and 15 are exposed to “potentially toxic concentrations of secondhand smoke in their family cars every day or most days.”

But in responding to the BLF’s data analysis, Simon Clark, the director of Forest, said his organization believed the figures were “extremely misleading.”

“They are estimates based on questionable calculations,” he said.

“According to surveys, only a very small number of adults still smoke in cars with children present. It’s inconsiderate and most adults recognise that.

“Legislation is disproportionate to the problem. It would be very difficult to enforce and would be a huge waste of police resources.

“Education has to be better than coercion.”

Working to end child labor—in the US

| November 19, 2013

In the U.S., children as young as 12 are allowed to work on tobacco farms, performing backbreaking labor and putting their health and lives at risk, according to a story by Gabriel Thompson and Mariya Strauss for The Nation. (

The authors point out that agricultural work in general is dangerous. Workers might be exposed to pesticides and the possibility of acute nicotine poisoning. And they are vulnerable to hazards involving farm vehicles, grain silos and manure pits.

Since 2012, when the Obama administration rescinded plans to implement new safety measures and a ban on children working on tobacco farms, at least 13 young agricultural workers have died.

The Children’s Act for Responsible Employment, introduced by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard this year but blocked by the Republican-controlled Education and Workforce Committee, would bring child labor standards in line with protections in other industries and increase civil penalties for abuse, the story said.

“The measure faces stiff opposition, but the exploitation of children, in the final telling, should be impossible to defend,” it argued.

AOI appoints new CFO

| November 19, 2013

Alliance One International says that Joel L. Thomas, currently vice president, treasurer, is being promoted to the role of executive vice president, CFO, from Jan. 1.

Thomas will take over from Robert A. Sheets, who is retiring from AOI after more than 15 years with the company.

Sheets, who is currently executive vice president, CFO and chief administrative officer (CAO), will relinquish his role as CFO from Dec. 31 but will remain as CAO for a transitional period.

Thomas joined AOI in December 2005 as vice president, treasurer.

He has an MBA from Nova Southeastern University and a BA in political science from the University of California.

Meanwhile, also at AOI, Nichlas A. Fink has been promoted to the role of vice president, corporate controller and chief compliance officer.

And Hampton R. Poole, currently vice president, corporate controller, is to become director of supply chain reporting to Jose Maria Costa, executive vice president, global operations and supply chain. Poole’s new position has been created to continue the efficiency drive AOI launched in late 2011.

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