Hayward, Calif. — Commex Corp. has ordered a film reprocessing machine, installed another bubble-guiding system and launched an apprenticeship program.
The polyethylene film and sheet supplier in Hayward expects to take fourth-quarter delivery of the $600,000 repro unit from Next Generation Recyclingmaschinen GmbH of Feldkirchen an der Donau, Austria.
"We have scrap, and we know what it is so we can control it," Edward Yau, Commex owner and president, said in an interview.
Yau projected that Commex would realize a return on the repro-line investment in 18 months.
"We used to ship scrap to a lot of people, but their labor costs are too high," Yau said.
The incoming NGR recycling line will have capabilities to granulate and reprocess scrap material and extrude it directly into PE pellets for Commex's reuse.
Until about five years ago, Commex operated a small repro line.
The new $60,000 bubble-guiding system from Pearl Technologies Inc. of Savannah, N.Y., became operational in June with expectations for labor and scrap savings.
The unit can automatically align the center of a rising bundle directly over the die for maximum film control and quality.
John Lothrop, director of operations, said Commex is undertaking the establishment of the new apprenticeship program with eight steps in six-month intervals over four years.
"The curriculum is based on what we see as weaknesses," Lothrop said. "It will help change the culture" at Commex and convey "the power in learning" to participants.
"Lacking personnel is the biggest hurdle" to growth at Commex, he noted.
"If we can teach people the industry terminologies, that's beneficial in the learning process," Lothrop said.
As part of the program, Lothrop laminates portions of training manuals and posts the content on operating machines.
Commex is working toward certification under the Safe Quality Food program of the Food Marketing Institute.
"We will try to get it done in the first quarter of 2019," Yau said. "Implementation is difficult, and we must change the culture."
Commex reports a positive experience with the 86.6-inch-wide Windmöller & Hölscher KG three-layer Varex II blown film extrusion line that began operating in Hayward in October 2016.
"We don't need a lot of people to run the machine," Yau said. "The quick-change capability means it operates at triple the speed of the older line."
Commex acquired a 63-inch-wide W&H three-layer Varex extruder in 1997 and upgraded it in 2012.
"The old Varex is no match for the Varex II," Yau said.
Commex supplies stock in roll and sheet forms to film extruders and converters. Emerald Packaging Inc. of Union City, Calif., is Commex's largest customer.
Commex employs about 30 and has annual capacity of about 30 million pounds.