Grupasa builds the future of corrugated manufacturing on Industry 4.0 principles with BOBST
Tuesday 14. September 2021 - The new BOBST FFG 1228 flexo gluers form a central part of the pioneering companys recent investment in a second production plant in Ecuador. Having started operations in 2020, this state-of-the-art factory is the most automated of its kind in Latin America.
Grupasa, which employs more than 520 people, is part of Grupo Papelesa and located in the industrial heartland of Guayaquil, in Ecuador. As one of the country’s main providers of packaging solutions, it specializes in the manufacture of corrugated and self-assembly polyboard boxes, with labels and shrink sleeves supplied by its Empaflex division. Large national and international companies in the agricultural and industrial markets make up the customer base.
Over the period 2018-19, the company invested over $35 million in a second board plant, where the latest technologies in corrugated manufacturing have been installed. Located next to its first plant, the new facility boasts the largest production capacity in Ecuador today thanks to a very high degree of automation and a constant improvement and innovation program. Over 11,000 tons of corrugated boxes are delivered from here every month to multinational brand owners such as Chiquita, Del Monte, Fyffes, Unilever, Nestlé and Grupo AB Inbev.
“We differentiate ourselves from the competition with our Industry 4.0 methodology which we implemented through investing in innovative equipment and technologies, such as our BOBST printers,” said economist Jose Jaramillo Miranda, President of Grupo Papelesa. “The Internet of Things, robotics, artificial intelligence, and Big Data, all play a fundamental role in our processes, allowing us to meet a very demanding market with excellence. This requires the highest quality of boxes, exact color matching, on-time deliveries, and 24/7 service, while at the same time being competitive and even exceeding our customers’ expectations.”
Fully finished banana boxes in one process
Two BOBST FFG 1228 machines – one three-color and one six-color – support this ambitious endeavor. The flexo folder gluers have been configured specifically for the production of banana boxes, which makes up the majority of output for the agricultural sector at Grupasa. The FFGS convert board produced on a new BHS corrugator. Sophisticated management information software has also been put in place to streamline operations, manage human resources, and facilitate excellent logistics.
Combining flexo printing, die-cutting and folding of board in a one-pass process, the FFG 1228 is an ideal production line for large formats up to 1160 x 2890 mm. It can process board in various thicknesses from micro flute to double-walled (1.4 to 10 mm) and features quick job changeovers, fully automated slotter and speeds of up to 30,000 boxes/hr (Trifold) for fast and versatile production of the widest range of box types.
A host of proprietary technologies make the BOBST FFG 1228 the perfect choice for Grupasa by minimizing operator intervention and increasing automation. The six-color machine, which is a 1228 NT RS model, comes with RAPIDSET which enables set up of idle print units while the machine is running for maximum efficiency. Both BOBST machines also feature DDF Direct Drive Feeder for no-crush feeding and high printing quality. This guarantees accurate lead edge to print and is ideal for converting light-weight board.
In the cutting section, the top rotary die-cutter uses the POSILOCK quick mount technology and QLA Quick Lock Anvil systems for faster changeovers and accurate cutting at speed. The PCD Folder-Gluer offers progressive folding at high speed with Multi-T belts and board transfer on vacuum belts. At the stacking stage, the machine ensures 100% automated counting accuracy and precise bundle ejection. Each process on the flexo folder gluers is easily controlled and set up at the intuitive MPC3 HMI control station with REGISTRON 55500 employed to perform automatic print register control for excellent print results and low waste. All production data is collected and stored for easy job repeat setups and analytics.
Sharing a vision of the future
The new factory is an insight into the future of corrugated production built on the foundations of automation, digitalization, connectivity and sustainability. The team at Grupasa has achieved this through a deep understanding of their customers’ requirements and the way the market is moving. This is the very same vision that BOBST believes should guide all investment decisions and partnerships in packaging.
“Our investment in state-of-the-art equipment enables us to offer our customers fully automated production. With the data we collect, we can continue to optimize our processes, improve our sustainability and further increase productivity,” said Mr. Jaramillo Miranda. “We chose to work with BOBST and have maintained a great commercial relationship throughout, because they meet our demanding requirements for exceptional reliability of the equipment, constant top speed rates, and excellent training, service and support.”
“It is fantastic to see the principles and the future vision that BOBST operates under in action at Grupasa’s new plant. With this level of automation and digitalization, they are ahead of the competition and we are proud that they have successfully unleashed the power of BOBST technology to achieve their goal,” said Olivier ROBIN, BOBST FFG/DRO Technology Sales Director.