FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, GERMANY — Egyptian film packaging company Shouman Industrial Group is diversifying into the equipment business, launching a unit making laboratory extrusion lines for the European and North American markets.
The El Mansoura-based company debuted its new Maxtrusion subsidiary at its first European trade fair, Germany's Fakuma show in mid-October, after opening a European sales office in Frankfurt, Germany, earlier this year.
Maxtrusion President Ahmed Shouman contends that Shouman Group's background in the film extrusion business — with three companies in Egypt making packaging, bags and agricultural film — provides insights into what plastics film manufacturers need for new product development equipment.
“To configure a pilot line in such a way to satisfy customer requirements, you really need to have a know how in the film business,” Shouman said. “This know-how is not available for every equipment producer.”
Maxtrusion was established two years ago and operates a 161,458-square-foot production plant in El Mansoura that employs 125.
He said it uses mainly European subcomponents and does final manufacturing in Egypt as a strategy to hold down costs.
“We see that there is a market and we see that there are not enough producers of laboratory equipment,” Shouman said. “That's why we found a market gap.”
It manufactures both small monolayer extrusion lines and larger multilayer pilot and research lines. At the fair it was displaying a mono-layer lab scale machine and a larger, seven-layer blown film extrusion system that's mainly for pilot production but has some limited commercial applications.
“The direction in the packaging industry is going more and more in the direction of seven- and nine-layer film,” he said.
“Our first step for was our German office for the European market,” he said. “The second step we hope to do as soon as possible is set up an office in the United States. We still have no exact time frame. This is under evaluation at the moment.”
But he said the company is very interested in the U.S. market: “Capacity and consumption for packaging in America is unbelievable.”
Shouman declined to provide sales figures for Maxtrusion, but said it has sold 30 lab lines in Europe and several in the United States since launching two years ago. It sold the small pilot line it brought to Fakuma to an Austrian technical school, he said.
“We see these products, the laboratory and pilot extrusion systems, as a very powerful tool to enable film producers and material suppliers to reduce their costs and in the meantime to accelerate the product development cycle,” Shouman said.
Shouman Group's three film extrusion subsidiaries are Convipack, which manufactures convenience packaging; Rafftech, which makes PP woven bags; and Shouman Co., which produces agricultural films.
Those three companies employ about 500 people in total. Shouman Industrial Group started in 1983.