ASHE building on sales in world markets


ASHE Converting Equipment continues to grow its market share in world markets with its range of standard and bespoke slitting and rewinding equipment. Apart from recent commisions in India, a developing market for ASHE, Sapphire slitters have been delivered to Chinese flexible packaging producers.

Keith Fordham, ASHE Converting Equipment's Chief Engineer, says that the beginning of the 21st Century is a key period for China to realise its economic and social development targets. China's economy keeps expanding and with it peoples' living standards. China's print and packaging indiustry has to invest in equipment and training to bring the industries up to an acceptable standard, and quickly.

One way for Chinese printers and converters to achieve quality objectives is to to seek "best available" technology, equipment that is easy to set up, easy to use, yet offers proven productivity advantages. ASHE Converting Equipment's Sapphire machine has been chosen by a number of flexible packaging producers as it meets all of the aforementioned requirements. So far more than a dozen machines have been supplied, with expectations of more.

Companies seeking to tighten up their operations find that it is often possible to cut costs, reduce process waste and minimise downtime by taking a closer look at their slitting systems. An even wind, rolls that are wound just right, not too tight at one end and not too baggy at the other end are essential. The ability to handle a wide range of substrates, including thinner gauge extensible materials, at speed is of course also essential, irrespective of wether a machine is being supplied to customers in China or elsewhere. Tension must be controlled more precisely, and set up quicker. Setting tension used to be labour intensive, and indeed still is in countries where they are using older machines.

With today's Sapphire, tension control is virtually automatic. Control of the infeed is particularly important which is why the Sapphire range of slitters is equipped with the "hug drum". This is driven by the machine isolation drive and facilitates the passing of the material through this zone, ensuring that any web slackness or rippling does not result in the creasing that can occur through the nip on other machines. The Sapphire also incorporates a 'slip-loc'control system, designed to make certain that precise tension is maintained on each slit rewound reel.

The Sapphire can be supplied tailor made to meet the level of sophistication required by the customer., from competitively priced compact machines to advanced models with touch screen control, automatic knife positioning systems, traversing trim winders, etc.

Outlining the opportunities further, Keith Fordham says: "There are aproximately 200,400 packaging and converting plants in China. 24.8% of which have gravure, or to a lesser extent, package printing facilities. According to the Packaging Technology Association in China - ambitious investment is planned over the next five years so as to satisfy the expectations of consumers for better and more varied products, and to enable the industry to compete in world markets. Thanks to a combiation of earlier investment and aggressive expansion programmes, the value of the Chinese packaging market has expanded from RMB 31.94 billion in 1999, to RMB 50 billion in 2001 and is growing by 12.4% per year.The industry still has a long way to go through."

In addition to the packaging sector, ASHE notes the possibility for sales in other`sectors where the company's range of Sapphire, Opal, and Emeraldan improve profitability. these include the 9000 paper mills, and 82189 printing plants. While many of the latter are small print shops, an estimated 53,628 have been classified as medium to large printing plants with converting/finishing facilities, abbeit at presently relatively unsophisticated.