Panoramic Inc. has invested in an extrusion line at its Janesville, Wis., plant to cut costs and reduce waste.
The company recently began running a 5-inch, rebuilt extruder to make PET sheet from reclaimed in-house scrap. The move means Panoramic can turn its scrap into a valuable resource while reducing its reliance on outside PET sheet sources.
“Our focus is to expand in thermoforming, and this adds another element to the strategy,” said Paul Schumacher, Panoramic vice president of sales and marketing, in a phone interview.
PET sheet accounts for up to 90 percent of Panoramic's materials needs in its main business of thermoformed rigid packaging, Schumacher estimated. The company also thermoforms polystyrene, PVC and polypropylene sheet.
Schumacher said his firm pondered in-house extrusion earlier, but with the company growing as fast as it is, now is a good time to take the plunge.
“We've added seven thermoformers in the past three years,” Schumacher said. “It made perfect sense to recycle and extrude scrap.”
Panoramic bought the extruder from Plastics Machinery Group of Bedford Heights, Ohio. All the upsteam equipment for the extrusion line is brand-new, Schumacher said.
All of Panoramic's thermoforming lines include robots, Schumacher said. The firm now runs 25 production lines, most of which are Sencorp machines. The thermoforming lines take up more than half of Janesville's 150,000 square feet of production space. An extensive in-house tool shop occupies the rest. A year and a half ago, Panoramic started up a 120,000-square-foot off-site warehouse and distribution center in Janesville.
Panoramic's origins date from the early 1900s as a cardboard box manufacturer. Schumacher joined the company in 2006 when the company made only custom packaging.
Schumacher helped refocus the company so that stock production grew to half its business. He recognized that custom packaging meant the buyer had to spend money on the tool, while stock packaging did not carry that extra cost. The savings are a hit with customers and have helped fuel Panoramic's growth. The company's sales when Schumacher joined were about $10.5 million and since then have grown to $40 million last year and an anticipated $45 million this year.
Much of the early sales came from tubs. The product line has grown to include lids, trays, clamshells and various custom-formed items. Food packaging is Panoramic's main business, but it also sells into retail and industrial markets. Work-in-progress trays are a big part of industrial sales. The company is ISO 9000 quality certified.