SWISS PRECISION SOLVES SPECIALIST LABELLING PROBLEM
Panoval Label was set up to provide a specialist, rapid response self-adhesive laminates service to the worldwide roll label printing industry.
In 1986, a small mill was built in Martigny, Switzerland, to provide a siliconising service for parent label materials producer Novarode of Belgium. However, the Swiss enterprise in its then guise did not flourish and in 1992, a group of investors with wide industry experience gained, from among other sources, top management positions with Novarode. They then bought the Martigny mill, its site and its assets.
Thus the new company – Panoval Label – was created and a management team installed to put into action a whole new set of objectives. Primarily, Panoval was set up to provide a carefully targeted special self-adhesive laminates service to satisfy the almost limitless specialist labelling requirements of roll label printers in Europe and whole worldwide.
Having initially inherited the Valtec 1 and 11 siliconisers from the previous operator, Panoval adapted the Veltec 11 to serve as a laminator and, in 1994, bought the Valtec 111 laminator. The company was thus equipped to produce fully-fledged self-adhesive labelling materials for both standard and specialist applications.
Since 1992 the mill has been extended significantly and now provides some 9,000 sq m of factory, laboratory, warehousing and office accommodation. Building is currently at an advanced stage of a new section which will house the fast new Valtec 1V siliconiser that is to be installed in November and which will significantly increase turnover – and also add a further 1000 sq m to the mill complex. Additionally, the site is surrounded by acres of arable land which, should further expansion be required, could be conveniently purchased by Panoval.
During the first year of trading, turnover ran at some SF12 million and this year is forecast to top SF55 million. With four shifts working seven days a week for much of the production, Panoval’s total work force of 94 includes a predominantly young, but highly skilled and motivated, management team headed by managing director Ngyuen Hoang Nam. The company is on target this year to record a volume increase of approximately 30 per cent –despite the strong Swiss franc – with an increase within that 30 per cent of 45 per cent volume growth of specialist products. 86 per cent of output is exported.
At the end of 1996, Panoval was acquired by UK industrial investment expert Capital Industries Group which also owns leading UK self-adhesive labelling materials producer Samuel Jones. Since then, the two companies – Panoval and Samuel Jones – have created a powerful partnership which is consistently increasing its share of both the roll label and sheet label global markets. With its strong Taktik branded, large volume, essentially standard labelling lines, Samuel Jones complements Panoval’s growing commitment to specialist roll label – and more recently expanded sheet label – ranges. Both companies allocate significant resources to new product development, trialling, testing and quality control and benefit from a vigorous cross fertilisation of facilities, skills and market intelligence.
Traditionally Panoval sales have been strong in Switzerland, Germany, Benelux and France and remain so today. However, the company – partly through its association with Samuel Jones – is now also expanding fast in niche markets in the UK and also outside of Europe.
Panoval’s objectives remain focused on the growth of specialist and innovative self-adhesive labelling constructions developed to meet specific customer requirements – which often means a dedication to development detail that the volume-driven laminate producers rarely address. It is essentially a problem solving exercise which inevitably results in a specialist construction being devised to fulfil a particular end use but, of course, in time special laminated can become standard items available across the customer base.
The road towards successful specialisation often with an overview of product development already achieved or in the pipeline and, centring closely on the labelling ‘problem’ presented by the customer via the sales team, takes on board ideas and possible solutions supplied by Panoval’s technical experts. Viability is then considered from a commercial viewpoint and decisions are then both on short term production programmes and on long term development strategies. Unlike the larger label material manufacturers who can usually only justify new product introductions where a degree of standardisation is promised and eventual makings of several hundred thousand square metres assured, Panoval is well equipped to think small, concentrate on specialisation and accommodate often complex and urgent orders within a time-scale of no more than ten working days.
The demand for such hands-on involvement and this degree of personalised service exists and is, according to Panoval, growing monthly.
The solution to most application problems lies in finding the right combination of face paper, adhesive and backing sheet and Panoval is already able to offer more than 400 combinations, However, there still remains the need to delve further – to experiment, trial and test and it is significant that over ten per cent of the company’s work force is involved in R&D and quality control. Panoval’s laboratory at Martigny is among the most advanced in the industry. For instance, a section of coated material may be placed on a machine which ‘fingerprints’ the adhesive and indicates if any deviation exists and identifies it. Similarly, another unit replicates virtually any environmental condition and uses accelerated ageing to test performance in various temperatures and humidities. The testing disciplines ensure that each ingredient of the product ‘mix’ achieves optimum standards before a production run is initiated.
With so many resources devoted to both product development and quality control, it is not surprising that in 1996 Panoval was accredited to BS EN ISO 9001, the demanding international standard which measures proof of quality management systems with demonstrable design criteria.
Because of the nature of specialisation, it is no secret that breadth and depth of construction components are essential criteria. This means adhesives for all reasons; permanent, chill/permanent and a whole host of removables – including water removable, ultra removable and even removable/repositionable choices. There are also low odour and odour-specific adhesives to choose from. The list of applications served by these adhesives is exhaustive and grows perceptively as speciality product development expands apace. Also, in order to accommodate urgent, bespoke orders that may involve specific release characteristics, Panoval maintains a stock of diverse backing and face papers that may be quickly converted into label stock and shipped out in record time. Synthetic materials are also available.
The wide range of Panoval products from which special laminates may be created includes double and multi-layer constructions, tamper-evident labelling, transfer label stock, precision strip coating options, dry peel where the face paper remains non tacky and a wide variety of siliconised face papers that may be used as backing papers where high quality printing on both sides of the labelling is required.
As to the future, it is viewed with confidence by Ngyuen Hoang Nam. ‘In less than six years’, he said, ‘we have come a long way but during that time we have not wavered from our original concept of specialisation – of becoming a leader among European and, indeed, global labelling problem solvers. Our partnership with Samuel Jones is already proving far more than a marriage of convenience. There is true synergy between our two companies which can only continue to reap benefits for all our customers.’
‘Additionally,’ continued Nam, ‘our parent company, Capital Industries, has from the start proved to be supportive of all our strategies. Only eight months after acquisition, it was agreed that significant investment would be allocated to the installation of our new Valtec 1V siliconiser which will greatly increase turnover when it goes on-line in November.
This 1.6 m wide machine will run at 600 m per minute, twice as fast as our existing Vltec 1 siliconiser. The new machine will also provide on-line UV and thermal curing facilities. We intend to increase still further our in-house technology developments and fine-tune the educative process of working hand-in-hand with customers to provide solutions to even the most complex labelling application dilemmas – focusing ever more finitely on market-led demands.’