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Hoffmann names new executives

| March 4, 2015

Hoffmann, a Swiss supplier of tobacco packaging, has named two new executives: Tomas Pivko and Jorg Helas. Pivko, who became a member of the executive management for Hoffmann Neopac AG on Jan. 1, will succeed Kurt Luthi as head of sales for tins at Hoffmann.

Luthi retired at the end of 2014 after serving for many years as director of sales and marketing. Pivko has worked for the company as sales manager since 2011, acquiring new international customers and maintaining key accounts. Before he joined Hoffmann, Pivko spent 12 years in the packaging industry, serving in the roles of key account manager, sales manager and product manager.

“I’m excited about the new challenge and approaching it with passion and focus,” said Pivko. “Thanks for your confidence in me and the entire Hoffmann sales team—and I look forward to continuing the great collaboration.”

Helas, who also joined the company in 2011, will succeed Artur Wichowski as Hoffmann’s new head of development in Thun, Switzerland, under the leadership of Andreas Geiger. Prior to his work at Hoffmann, Helas spent several years working as a project manager in the packaging industry.

“I’m pleased to have already launched a new tin this year, which is unique in terms of form and function,” he said.


Jorg Helas

Jorg Helas

Tomas Pivko

Tomas Pivko


Parkside’s safety and health approach gets gold

| May 3, 2013

Parkside Flexibles’ approach to occupational safety and health has been recognized by the U.K. Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

RoSPA will present the company with its 2013 Gold Occupational Health and Safety Award during a ceremony at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel on May 14.

Dating back 57 years, the RoSPA Awards scheme is the largest and longest-running program of its kind in the United Kingdom. It recognizes commitment to accident and ill-health prevention and is open to businesses and organizations of all types and sizes from across the U.K. and overseas. The scheme not only looks at accident records, but also entrants’ overarching health and safety management systems, including practices such as leadership and workforce involvement.

“RoSPA firmly believes that organizations that demonstrate commitment to continuous improvement in accident and ill-health prevention deserve recognition,” said David Rawlins, RoSPA’s awards manager. “Parkside Flexibles (Europe) Ltd. has shown that it is committed to striving for such continuous improvement and we are delighted to honor it through the presentation of an award.”

“It is an honor to be presented with such an award,” said Robert Adamson, operations director at Parkside. “Our team in Normaton work tirelessly to ensure health and safety is our number one priority and this award is a great recognition of their achievements.”

A flexographic printer and specialized laminating company, Parkside has been supplying packaging solutions to the tobacco industry for more than 40 years.

Hoffmann awarded World Star

| April 5, 2013

Winston_Avant_Edition_smallHoffmann Neopac has won a World Star Award for its Winston Avant Edition cigarette pack. The World Star Organization gives out awards annually for innovations in packaging. This year, more than 315 entrants competed.

Previously, the Winston Avant Edition had won the German Packaging Award.

According to Hoffman, the Winston Avant Edition has redefined cigarette promotional packaging. The company developed a mechanism that simultaneously opens and lifts the product. Both functions can be triggered using only one hand. Despite its sophisticated features, the package is slim.

Also unique is the combination of tin plate and plastic. The tin plate shell enhances the premium character of the packaging. It adheres to the plastic part with an innovative adhesive bond using specially designed gluing machines.

Hoffmann also won a World Star Award for a tube it developed for the medical industry.

Based in Switzerland, Hoffmann Neopac is a family-owned business with a history of more than 100 years. The company produces pocket packs using metal or combinations of metal and plastic, as well as tins for the tins for a variety of industries, including tobacco.

Parkside celebrates three years in Malaysia

| March 6, 2013

Parkside Flexibles is celebrating the three-year anniversary of its manufacturing facility in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The plant—the company’s first outside of the United Kingdom—was opened in March 2010 by the Malaysian deputy minister of international trade and industry, Dato Mukriz Matathir.

The facility has enabled Parkside to shorten lead times and improve service levels for customers in the Asia-Pacific region.

Already, Parkside is looking to replicate its Malaysian model elsewhere. “Our success in Malaysia has given us the perfect blue print to open new facilities worldwide,” says Development Director Chris Kozlik.

Further investment is being considered for the Kuala Lumpur plant later this year.

On demand

| February 1, 2011

New printing technology simplifies primary, secondary packaging processes for Top Tobacco

By Paul Schildhouse

The roll-your-own cigarette and pipe tobacco industry is a small but growing segment of the tobacco industry. Sales have increased over the past five years, according to the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Since 1987, Top Tobacco, with headquarters in Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina, USA, has manufactured roll-your-own cigarette and pipe tobacco products for individuals who prefer to make their own cigarettes or smoke a pipe instead of purchasing machine-made products.

Because Top Tobacco offers a variety of products, package sizes and package types, the company uses variable data printing solutions that allow it to customize both primary and secondary packaging and avoid storing preprinted materials. Top Tobacco utilizes small-character continuous inkjet printers, laser printers and large-character marking systems from Videojet Technologies Inc.

Richard Hopkins, plant engineer for Top Tobacco, says the decision to use variable data printing systems has brought a huge advantage for Top Tobacco. Hopkins estimates the ability to print variable data on demand has increased uptime compared with previously used printing methods and has allowed Top Tobacco to purchase generic films, foils and shipping cases. Information required on each product is preprinted onto the packaging, but Top Tobacco no longer needs to store preprinted packages or cases for each product brand and size.


Before installing continuous inkjet printers for primary packaging, Top Tobacco used a variety of printing methods for coding on polypropylene or foil pouches, including inked embossed rollers and hot-inked embossed rollers. The rollers required line operators to remove the typeset and change it for each new product on a production line. In addition, Top Tobacco had to devote warehouse space to storing preprinted corrugated cases in a variety of sizes to ship its products to retail outlets throughout the United States.

“Having generic packaging requires less management of preprinted packaging to ensure the right packages are used every time,” Hopkins says. “Plus, we now use considerably less floor space to store a few case sizes instead of dozens of cases with different sizes and different information.”

Requiring fewer preprinted cases and packaging has made it easier for Top Tobacco to forecast its packaging needs, so suppliers can be placed on a set schedule to regularly deliver more materials. This enables Top Tobacco to avoid unplanned orders for packaging materials.

Ensuring fresh product

Prior to distribution for retail sale, Top Tobacco packages cigarette and pipe tobacco into cans, polyethylene pouches or foil pouches, with product sizes ranging from 0.35 ounces to 1 pound. The cans and pouches are then packed into cardboard shipping cases, palletized and shipped to Top Tobacco’s distribution center in Glenview, Ill.

Cans and pouches containing Top Tobacco’s products are imprinted with production date codes using Videojet 43s inkjet printers and Videojet 3320 laser coders. With the Videojet printers, dates can be automatically changed and Top Tobacco can print production dates that include hours and minutes, which was not previously possible with the rollers.

The cartons used for shipping the cans and pouches of tobacco are coded by Videojet 2320 large-character printers. The cartons require printing on two adjacent sides, so one side of the box is printed first, and then the box is bump-turned to allow for printing on the adjacent side. The boxes are marked with product-specific alphanumeric codes and barcodes for tracking and production dates.

“The date codes printed on each pouch or can are referenced by our sales force to ensure customers are getting the freshest product available,” Hopkins says. “Warehouse personnel check the date codes regularly to make certain that product is properly rotated through the warehouse during distribution to keep fresh product moving out to retail outlets.”

The barcodes on the corrugated cases enable distributors to easily keep track of products entering and leaving the distribution center. Therefore, it is essential the codes are crisp and clear so barcode scanners can read the codes the first time without requiring multiple scans, which can hinder productivity.

Intuitive interfaces

All the Videojet printers are used continuously during Top Tobacco’s production hours. Each production line has its own set of printers, which are preloaded with variable data coding requirements for each product produced on that line. When a product changes on a line—which occurs approximately once per week—the operator needs only to select the job product code from the preloaded list.

“Changing products is very simple with the Videojet printers,” Hopkins says. “The operators require very little training or assistance because selecting a job is about as easy as selecting a song on a jukebox.”

In addition to the intuitive printer interface, Top Tobacco also appreciates the long periods between maintenance required by the Videojet printers. Hopkins notes that common maintenance tasks are easy to learn and perform as a result of the self-diagnostic features available on the printers. The printers display help screens to walk operators through routine maintenance, which reduces downtime that can shut down an entire production line.

“Whenever you can decrease the amount of time a technician must spend with a piece of equipment, you have gained an advantage,” Hopkins says. “Since these printers need less attention from our technicians, our operators are able to handle product changeovers and our maintenance personnel can concentrate on other tasks.”

Top Tobacco also consulted with Videojet when determining the appropriate printers to use on its production lines and to select the best inks for its substrates. For example, because the pouches can come in various colors, Top Tobacco uses both blue and black ink in the Videojet 43s printers. The blue ink shows up better on darker colors, and Videojet helped ensure the ink would be compatible with both the printer and the substrate.

“Videojet has always been available to us whenever we’ve had challenges with new packaging or needed to consult a field technician,” Hopkins says. “The technicians are well-trained, and our representatives really know their products and have demonstrated a real dedication to ensuring we are investing wisely in our printing technologies. We feel like Videojet is a true partner.”

By choosing variable data coding systems, Top Tobacco has been able to spend less time worrying about coding processes and packaging materials and more time focusing on its core service of producing and distributing fresh, quality tobacco products.


Paul Schildhouse is secondary packaging product manager at Videojet Technologies Inc.


Fanning out

| February 1, 2011

The Indian group of companies that includes Chaitanya Packaging now also supplies rotary dies for use on packaging and converting machines.


By George Gay


As I traveled with T.R. Prabhu, the chairman of a group of companies that includes Chaitanya Packaging, between some of his factories and godowns on the outskirts of Guntur, India, he made the point that somebody had to provide meaningful employment for the people who lived in the numerous and populous villages we were passing through.


He made his comment after I had expressed curiosity about the rate of increase in the number and diversity of the businesses that made up his group. Prabhu had just mentioned that he was about to start a company that would build machinery, and I knew that the print was hardly dry on the business cards for his Diehard Dies Pvt. Ltd. enterprise.


The group’s flagship business is the 19-year-old Tulasi Seeds, which produces vegetable seeds, with emphasis on chilies, and hybrid cotton seeds in a process that incorporates technology licensed from Monsanto. “We are the third-largest cotton seed company in India,” said Prabhu. “It’s all sold in India at the moment, but we are looking for opportunities to go to Africa.”


Surprisingly for a man who controls a number of diverse businesses, Prabhu talks with expertise and in detail about each of them, almost as if he is in daily control of them all. And he speaks and acts with precision, often repeating what he has said in different ways to ensure the meaning is clear.

Another of his enterprises cultivates about 400 acres of land with vegetables and fruit, especially lemons and mangoes.


And, as is mentioned above, his new venture is Diehard Dies, which he started to put in place in November 2009. This company uses machinery imported from Germany and raw materials imported from Europe to produce flat and rotary dies for use on converting and packaging machines for folding cartons and corrugated boxes. Diehard Dies, Prabhu explained, was the first company in India to make such rotary dies.


“In addition, we make flexible steel label-cutting dies, and we are the first company in Southeast Asia to do that,” he said. “This is a 100 percent export business.


“Making flexible dies is a very difficult manufacturing process that requires a high degree of precision. The labeling industry is very automated and needs sophisticated dies. No other company in the Middle East or Africa can produce such dies, so my target comprises customers in all of the countries of these regions—50-60 companies in South Africa alone.”


Diehard Dies offers also embossing blocks, gold-finishing bocks and Braille embossing dies in a range of materials including brass, copper and magnesium.


Meanwhile, the group includes a company that manufactures stationery under the Tulasi brand name and what Prabhu describes as a “small” software company based in Hyderabad.




But the number-two company in the group, measured in turnover, and the company of most interest to the tobacco industry, is Chaitanya Packaging, 65 percent of whose output is bought by tobacco companies.


Chaitanya, which produces C48 cases under the Power-400 brand name, supplies 75 percent of India’s demand for these 200 kg cases, and exports them to Bangladesh, Dubai (for cut rag), Malawi, the Philippines, Tanzania and Turkey.


Chaitanya started its C48-case exporting business with sales to Bangladesh about six years ago, and by last year some 40 percent of its output was destined for sale overseas. And perhaps that figure has increased by now. When I spoke with Prabhu, he was in discussions about possible export sales to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Zimbabwe.


So was Chaitanya successful, I asked? “Yes,” was Prabhu’s short answer.


And why was that? “We are continuously upgrading the box making machinery we use, which is imported from Taiwan,” he replied. “We are continuously modernizing so as to increase productivity and quality. Chaitanya is an ISO9001:2008 certified company.”


And what about the group as a whole; was that successful too? “Highly successful because of continuous R&D to improve productivity and quality,” he said.


Overall, the group’s annual turnover is about INR3 billion ($65 million). And that figure is expected to reach $100 million within about two years.


As well as having a big turnover, the group is highly profitable, according to Prabhu, but at the moment this level of profitability is largely down to the seeds business. The packaging business was not particularly profitable because it competed in a very competitive marketplace and margins were thin, he said.


Finally, I asked Prabhu how he saw the future of the tobacco industry as it related to his packaging business.


“From what I see the tobacco industry will be doing about the same acreage in the next 10 years,” he said. “It may not grow overall, though I think it will grow year on year in India. So I foresee good business for Chaitanya Packaging. My target is to grow its sales turnover by at least 50 percent during the next two or three years. We can do it—with more competitive prices and better qualities.”

That’s good news for Chaitanya, good news for the group and good news for locals looking for employment.