Film printer and converter Bema Inc. specializes in short runs really short runs.
Our main focus is on doing high-end jobs quickly, sometimes with just 50 pounds of film, said President Glen Galloway.
It's a niche that has a lot of potential, because many smaller customers want printed film that looks professional specialty pet food and private-label snack food companies, for example.
But doing small jobs profitably means that quick turnarounds are critical. If the time spent preparing Bema's printing and bag-making machines for each new job takes too long, the company suffers.
That's one problem that Elmhurst, Ill.-based Bema had when Galloway bought the company in 1999. That's when Galloway got involved with printing equipment supplier WindmÃ¶ller & HÃ¶lscher KG.
Since Galloway bought the company, he's been steadily investing in new equipment. The 50-employee firm, based in a 40,000-square-foot building, added a 10-color Permaflex W&H printing press in April 2008.
At K 2010, the company added a second W&H press, a Miraflex AM eight-color machine.
The new equipment has made a big difference. In 2007, Bema was typically handling two to four jobs each day. By September 2008, the company was handling 10-12 per day.
The result: While many manufacturing companies were taking a beating in 2008 and 2009, Bema was having its best years ever.
We've doubled our business, Galloway said, and he has big plans for additional growth.
With the new Miraflex press, which was on display at WindmÃ¶ller & HÃ¶lscher's stand at K 2010, Galloway expects to have more flexibility.
The press also features a color matching system called Easy-Col, which will give Bema the ability to do on-press color correction. That will help shorten job changeovers and minimize leftover ink.
'We are sure it saves our customers several thousand euros a year, said Christof Herschbach, general manager of business development for Lengerich, Germany-based W&H.
Make-ready time should be reduced, which is big for us, Galloway said.
Bema plans to continue to invest in new equipment. In 2011, Galloway expects to add a geothermal system that will air-condition the manufacturing area, and also increase lamination capacity.
Within five years, he expects to add a plant on the West Coast. Galloway also is interested in adding in-house film extrusion. Bema extruded its own low density polyethylene film until 2007, but since then it has purchased film PE, PET and polypropylene from other companies.
When he buys a film extruder, don't be surprised if Galloway looks at W&H equipment. He touted the company's technology and features, and also its service and technical assistance.
W&H also sold the other major piece of equipment at its K 2010 stand, a Varex blown film extrusion line that was running ExxonMobil metallocene PE at outputs exceeding 2,200 pounds per hour at the show.
The machine, which was running five-layer film at K 2010, will be installed at Danafilms Inc.'s plant in Franklin, Ky., where it will run seven-layer film.
The show line had five Varex extuders, and a new Opticool air ring, which W&H said was key to the high output achieved at the show. The ring improves airflow control, which avoids pressure drops of intake air, and it also has a high cooling capacity.
Aaron LaPointe, coextrusion technical manager at Danafilms' Westborough, Mass., headquarters, said the new line will basically be identical to an existing W&H coex line in Franklin.
In fact, after the new line is installed, the existing line will be retrofitted with any upgrades that are on the new line, he said.
Danafilms started planning to add the new equipment early this year. The company added 55,000 square feet of plant space, essentially doubling the size of the factory.
We're one of the few non-vertically integrated film makers. All we do is produce blown film. We've seen steady growth over the years, LaPointe said. The company is privately owned.
The company invested about $7 million in the expansion.
Basically this will let us double our capacity, and also allow us to enter some new markets, LaPointe said. We definitely want to expand on our current [ethylene vinyl alcohol] and nylon [barrier film] product lines.
End- markets include food and lawn and garden packaging.
We really could use a line now. We're pretty busy, LaPointe said.