Alcoa Flexible Packaging will consolidate its custom thermoforming business by closing two plants, and will invest in health-care markets. The company also is adding sheet extrusion to its plant in Grove City, Pa.
The firm said Jan. 10 it will move thermoforming operations from Cumberland, R.I., and Wheaton, Ill., to its Downington, Pa., facility. Production at Cumberland and Wheaton will be phased out in the second quarter after customer needs are secured.
Alcoa will build a Class 100,000 clean room within its Downington plant to serve medical and pharmaceutical markets. Alcoa spokesman Kevin Lowery said investment figures are unavailable for the project, slated to begin operations by the end of the second quarter.
By consolidating custom thermoforming in one location, Alcoa can expand its medical and retail packaging sales, according to Alcoa Flexible Packaging President Bimal Kalvani. The clean room is going into a facility that has a track record supplying pharmaceutical and other markets, he added in a news release.
Cumberland employs 72 and Wheaton has 120 workers, few of whom are expected to transfer to the Pennsylvania plant. Downington's staff level will grow by 140 employees to about 340. Lowery had no details about how many thermoforming lines are involved in the move.
Alcoa has enough floor space in Downington to accommodate the extra lines when machinery layout there is reconfigured, he said in a telephone interview.
The Downington clean room will host technical thermoforming processes to make packaging for medical devices, surgical kits, medical trays, diagnostic kits and implant trays. The site has been a major pharmaceutical packaging producer for about 20 years, making printed blister lidding for many drug manufacturers, Alcoa said.
Downington will continue to be a major supplier of printed shrink sleeves, and confectionery and other food-related packaging.
In other news, Alcoa Reynolds Food Packaging will add sheet extrusion capacity at its Grove City, Pa., thermoforming plant, according to a local news report.
Alcoa will spend $1.7 million on the expansion project that will create 12 jobs, according to the Youngstown, Ohio, Vindicator. The facility now sources rolls of plastic sheet from an Alcoa plant in Rogers, Minn. In addition to its main production of plastic containers, the Grove City site makes plastic and paper trays for cookies and crackers. The site employs about 200 and has annual sales of about $50 million.
Jim Myers, quality manager for the operation, said groundbreaking for the expansion is scheduled for the week of Jan. 16. He declined comment on the project until Alcoa issues a news release.
Alcoa Inc. of Pittsburgh has been reorganizing its packaging and consumer group. The new Alcoa Packaging business will include custom thermoforming and will focus on medical, pharmaceutical, health-care, electronics, food and film products.
Reynolds Food Packaging will include thermoformed food-service packaging and other food-related businesses. Plants in that business are not affected by Alcoa's recently announced consolidation plan for custom thermoforming, Lowery said.
Plastics News estimated Alcoa's total thermoforming sales were about $350 million in 2004.