How good has 2012 been so far for Gamma Meccanica North America, the U.S.-based joint venture operation of Italian-based plastics extrusion recycling equipment manufacturer Gamma Meccanica SpA?
“By the end of the second quarter, our sales will be double what we did last year,” said Heath Sellers, president and general manager of Gamma Meccanica North America, which does the marketing, sales, service, spare parts and distribution work in North America for the Italian firm.
“We are selling larger machines and doing highly customized work,” Sellers said. “We sell to fit the application, not to sell the machine. Our hallmark is flexibility and our willingness to do customization for customers. We often custom-build controls, extruders and feeding technologies for our customers.”
And those projected 2012 North American sales don't take into account any new business that might develop from NPE. “We've been slammed,” Sellers said in an interview at NPE2012. “The first two days of the show have been the best two days of any show since I've been in this industry.
“We had a lot of people stop by who want to start extruding,” he said.
“Our efforts [over the past five years] are starting to pay off,” Sellers said. “U.S. companies are now more open to European technology. They've always liked it, but the concern has always been service and spare parts. That is something we have emphasized. We are highly focused on reducing their concerns in that area.”
If you want to be successful as a North American company, service and spare parts is the key, Sellers said. “They want to know you are keeping that spare part on the shelves or they want you to be able to tell them where it is in stock and where they can get it near them because they can't afford any downtime.”
Sellers said the company will soon have 38 complete systems installed in North America, pointing out that Gamma also garners a sizable amount of sales from retrofitting existing extruders, selling extruders as stand-alone units, and from its service and spare parts business.
“Last year, we did one-half million dollars of business in after-sales service and spare parts” — and about half of the spare parts business was sourced in the United States, he said.
Similarly, the week before NPE, held April 1-5 in Orlando, Gamma announced that Automation and Control Inc., based in Moorestown, N.J., would be its exclusive North American electrical controls provider for programming and services.
“They are going to do electrical installations, panel building, remote-control monitoring and provide remote assistance 24/7,” Sellers said. “And they have a data-collection system that they can set up for the entire production plant, not just the recycling process.”
There has been broad interest across the company's product line, said Sellers, and what he finds equally as encouraging is that through all the economic turmoil of the past few years, there haven't been any big dips in business.
“The green movement has sustained itself and didn't peter out during the economic downturn,” he said. “People are seeing that not only can they recover some of that waste, but they can save dollars by not having it hauled away, and also make money by adding value to it. People are becoming more conscious that all this material has value.”
That environmental and sustainability consciousness also is reflected in the growing interest of customers in reducing electrical usage and water usage. Sellers noted, for example, that its 2-year-old Ecotronic control unit continues to pay dividends and help sales of its Compac reclaim systems that are particularly suited for film, fibers and sheets.
It reduces power consumption by 40 percent compared to the previous control Gamma used, said Sellers. And it virtually eliminates meltdown, which can be a problem on some machines that are used to do that type of reclamation. “You also get precision-temperature control and you eliminate the need to use water to control temperatures.”
Sellers said Gamma's machines can process anywhere from 50 pounds to 6,000 pounds per hour. They can be used for both post-consumer and post-industrial plastics, but in-house post-industrial reprocessing is the biggest part of its target market.
“The primary market is always going to be film, sheet and packaging — companies who trim things from film during their manufacturing,” said Sellers. “That has always been the primary market for people like us. After that, it is fiber and non-woven companies, followed by toll processors, post-industrial recyclers and post-consumer recyclers.”
Gamma also sells two sizes of water-ring (hot die face) pelletizers. Its larger capacity water-ring pelletizer, the TDA 6.0, can operate at a capacity of anywhere from 4,000-6,000 pounds per hour.
“More and more we are developing this system as a stand-alone solution for OEMs [as well as] for companies who want a compact system and horizontal discharge of the strands to process materials with a high melt-flow index,” said Sellers.
Underwater pelletizers incorporate a set of rotating blades on the die face, which cut the strands of material into adjustable pellet lengths. Once cut, centrifugal force sends the pellets into a water stream that circulates around the extruder die and then flows into a cooling bath. The pellets are then transferred to a centrifugal dryer.