Emplast Inc. is revamping its Chanhassen, Minn., headquarters plant for a major push into injection molded security cases for computer software products.
Emplast developers initially sketched the concept a year ago, Tony Boire, operations manager, said in a telephone interview.
``What drove the development was our long relationship with large retailers,'' he said.
The cases can inhibit shoplifting of expensive computer software from store shelves, reversing losses that plague title developers and retailers.
Microsoft Corp. and Best Buy Co. Inc. in September asked Emplast to collaborate on how to solve the problem, said business unit manager Phil Sykes.
``We were selected based on our design and our history of making reliable security cases,'' Sykes said in a telephone interview.
Emplast distributed test cases in April and began shipping its MS-2000 case in May, Sykes said.
Emplast products will be an important part of Best Buy's overall loss-prevention measures, according to Paul Stone, a divisional loss-prevention manager with Best Buy in Eden Prairie, Minn.
Other Emplast security cases exist for upscale compact discs, digital versatile discs and Nintendo 64 games.
Basically, a retailer loads software or another item into the case before displaying the product. Upon purchase, a cashier removes the security pack, hands the merchandise to the customer and sends the case to the back room for reloading.
Emplast uses clear polycarbonate, which is stronger than the polypropylene used in Emplast's original audio CD and cassette security devices, Boire said.
Emplast's new cases also could be used to protect expensive ink-jet cartridges, Zip drives and cellular telephones.
The security devices give a new thrust to Emplast after the mid-1998 divestiture of another product line. Pretium Packaging LLC of St. Louis acquired Emplast's personal-care bottle business and, subsequently, has moved six extrusion blow molding machines and automated decorating equipment from Chanhassen to three Pretium plants in the Midwest.
``We are renovating the facility for the security business,'' Boire said. ``We are converting that section from extrusion blow to a highly automated injection facility to support the growth of the growing business.''
Emplast is moving six Husky, Milacron and Van Dorn injection molding presses with clamping forces of 550-660 tons into another area of the Chanhassen plant from a former headquarters facility in Waconia, Minn. The upgrade includes central materials-handling systems and highly integrated up-and-out robots.
The Chanhassen site retains four accumulator-head blow molding presses for custom industrial work.
While the Chanhassen facility concentrates on the security products and industrial blow molding work, another Emplast plant deals with consumer products and custom and contract projects.
The 85,000-square-foot Shako-pee, Minn., facility has 20 presses, and may add a 150-ton Newbury vertical reciprocal shuttle press by mid-August.
Emplast employs about 200, split evenly between the two facilities.