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Shorko prepares for the packaging challenge of the 1990s.

Shorko Prepares for the Packaging Challenge of the 1990s

As high technology gains an ever increasing influence over the food packaging industry of the 1990s, only those companies with the foresight and resources to invest in research will be able to compete on an international scale.

Shorko Films, part of the Courtaulds organisation, is determined that the new decade will see the company build on its dominant position in flexible packaging.

A [pounds] 50m. investment programme over the last five years has culminated with the conmissioning of a record-breaking co-extruded polypropylene production line at the company's Swindon plant.

The line represents part of a constant process at Shorko to improve the technology of film manufacture, the service to customers and the range and quality of films available.

The new line can produce at high speed, and to the highest quality, the full range of Shorko films already well established in the food market.

These include the best-selling transparent SCB-for many years the mainstay of the Shorko business - and Shorko-M, the original OPP metallised film which revolutionised the quality end of the snack market with its excellent light and odour barrier features and presentational possibilities.

Easy Seal Break-through

One major breakthrough for the company has been the development of films with a wide heat seal range that can be used to create easy seal laminates, ideal for applications using high speed form-fill-seal or overwrapping machinery.

These include SCF, SCA, Shorko-MF and Shorko-PF, completing the company's series of wide heat seal range films in transparent, metallised and opaque options.

Shorko-MF, the new metallised film designed specifically for use in laminates, combines the benefits of high barrier and improved pack appearance of the established Shorko-H, with the advantages of a wide sealing range.

This is an important factor where seal integrity or improved machine speed is important, with a potential speed increase of up to 50 percent depending on machines. The wide range in sealing temperature also caters for sensitive products, such as chocolate, that could be affected by high sealing temperatures.

In-built Versatility

Like all wide seal range films, Shorko-MF has the in-built versatility of being suitable for horizontal, vertical form-fill-seal machines and overwrapping in laminate form with another easy seal film.

The film has gone through a strict process of testing and customer trials before it was added to the product list last year.

The first conmercial use of Shorko-MF was as a laminate with SCB. Dutch packaging converter Strabo Verpakkingen, Den Dolver, worked with Unox, part of the Unilever group, in producing a striking HFFS metallised pack for the company's Rookworst, a traditional spiced sausage.

Easy seal laminates using Shorko-MF are becoming widely accepted especially on the continent. As with the biscuit industry there are a several applications where enhanced appearance, excellent barrier properties and good seal integrity are highly valued.

The ability to sandwhich print the laminates ensuring that no ink or metal can contaminate the product, makes the structure ideal for food packaging. For this application SCA, or the already established SCF, would be laminated to Shorko-MF.

Whiter than Opaque

Shorko-PF, the white opaque version of the wide heat seal range films, has also completed its testing and trial procedure. This gives customers looking for film opacity and whiteness the ability to also achieve higher HFFS machines speeds.

This has already proved popular as a single web for multipacks where the high opacity means that there is considerably less danger of the bar codes of the products inside the packet showing through and confusing bar code readers. The whiteness also eliminates the need to use a white ink during printing so converters can achieve more complex designs on the same equipment.

Shorko-PF has a great deal of flexibility in use. One film can be used a single web or in an easy-seal laminate where again the whiteness can be invaluable. It can be used on HFFS or VFFS machines and for heat seal or cold seal applications.

The third addition to the wide heat seal range in Shorko SCA - a highly transparent film that comes into its own in applications where seal integrity is critical.

Originally developed for the American market, this film is designed to give improved seal integrity and hot tack. In the thinner gauges it is suitable for a wide range of laminating applications, including those using water-based adhesives - at present mainly used in the US market.

A Growing Share of

an Expanding Market

As the biggest supplier of co-extruded OPP in the world, Shorko plays a key part in a dynamic industry.

The world market for OPP is vast and growing rapidly. Only once in the last 10 years has the annual growth rate fallen below 10 percent and in 1988 world demand was estimated at 820,000 tonnes.

Shorko Films already holds a leading position in total OPP sales and is set to win a larger share by expanding production worldwide.

The fastest growing part of the OPP market is the co-ex sector, where Shorko has a dominant position. With the new line, the company has a capacity in Europe of more than 50,000 tonnes a year.

Europe, still the largest single market at 250,000 tonnes last year, is Shorko's main target area. It represents 80 percent of sales and Shorko Films' first priority is to maintain its momentum in this strategic market.

But the company's increased capacity will allow it to expand sales outside Europe. North America, for example, has become an increasingly important market for the company, with a slitting and warehousing operation located in Pennsylvania in the United States.

The range of markets covered by Shorko has also grown remarkably and now covers snacks, confectionery, biscuits, bakery products and tobacco.

Long term plans are backed by a massive research and development programme that is constantly working to produce new film types designed to meet changing market needs. These can now be developed on the f3m. pilot line built at the company's research centre at Bridgwater in the UK.

In recent years the new family of wide heat seal range films has been marketed and there are many more projects in the pipeline. The company is also implementing a sophisticated, computerised, management planning and control system, aimed at maintaining high levels of customer service and operational efficiency.

Shorko's New OPP Line

is a Record Breaker

The new f23m. co-extruded OPP production line commissioned last October claims several records. At eight metres wide, it is the widest line of its type in the world and at a potential 350 metres per minute, it is also the fastest.

These factors combine to make it the highest capacity co-extruded OPP line in production - with a potential output of more than 15,000 tonnes a year.

To gauge the extent of the improvement, the line is 30 percent wider and 30 percent faster than the previous biggest line at Swindon. The extruders can handle up to five tonnes of polypropylene resin an hour, producing rolls of film more than twice the weight of previous lines. From end to end, the giant machine is more than 140 metres long.

It was installed in only nine months - a mammoth task as work involved raising the roof of the plant to accommodate the tallest pieces of equipment, while not interfering with production on the plant's other three lines.

The technology is based on methods tried and tested over nearly 25 years experience in co-extruded OPP manufacture - experience unrivalled in this field.

All the elements of the line were chosen individually by Shorko engineers from the best equipment available around the world, using the results of Shorko development work and the benefits of close co-operation with the top manufacturers.

A major breakthrough in technology on the line has been achieved in the new computerised process control system. A high degree of automation and in-line monitoring are not new to Shorko production lines but this is the first time that Swindon has had complete integrated control of a line from a central console. Nibb-it International (UK), the Bradford-based snack manufacturer, has chosen Shorko films for the packaging of its redesigned range of snacks.

The company, part of the Dalgety group, produces a range of savoury snacks such as Wheelz, Chipz and the recently launched Hoopz. The products were originally packaged in ICI Propafilm C28 or C34 with a converter-applied coat of PVdC lacquer.

Negotiations between Nibb-it and flexible packaging converters Colodense suggested the switch to a more cost effective

The computerised system contains more than 3000 input and output control points, giving greater precision in control of the material at all stages of the process.

Its in-line gauge control systems allow continuous fine tuning and ensure an even thickness over the whole eight metre web. One major advantage is that the line can switch from one film type to another extremely efficiently allowing for shorter, more cost effective runs.

Selection of the computer system was based on the results of a two year trial at the company's French production plant where two smaller lines there were fitted with process control. Over the past two years it has boosted production there by 30 percent.

The quality generated by this level of control and the obvious advantage of long, uninterrupted runs means the new line will bring substantial benefits in terms of product consistency and quality, which will flow through to the customers.

It is planned that the three earlier production lines at Swindon will be converted to the central process control system, a further indication of the structure, SCB 30 or SCB 35 - depending on the pack size. After successful trials Nibb-it moved predominantly to Shorko film.

At the same time, the established designs were revamped with the use of gloss inks and a striking, modern four-colour flexo design to give added sophistication. This is enhanced on the Wheelz packs by the discrete use of gold ink.

There is a variety of designs to cover three pack sizes and exotic flavours such as Onion n' Vinegar, Mexican Spice and Savoury. company's on-going commitment to provide products that are second to none in the world market place. At Swindon, 80 percent of the production capacity is now less than six years old.

Shorko - Building on Decades

of Experience

Shorko Films' history is as long as the history of polypropylene film itself - dating back to the early 1960s but the Courtaulds Group's background in producing flexible packaging films goes back further still, more than 50 years to the start of Cellophane production.

British Cellophane (now Courtaulds Films) quickly recognised the opportunity that the new polypropylene film would represent in the packaging film market. In 1962 the company started a research programme into the manufacture of OPP.

The following year Shorko (a joint venture between Shell, Metal Box and the Kordite Corp.) started production of OPP, using a co-extrusion process to provide heat sealability rather than the then more standard off-line coating process.

In 1969 British Cellophane acquired Shorko at Swindon and the following year abandoned its own production of coated films in favour of co-extruded films. History has proved the good sense of this move as throughout the 1970s many other European manufacturers switched to this type of film.

With sales over the years mounting up to a massive 250,000 tonnes Shorko can undoubtedly claim to be the world's most experienced producer of co-extruded OPP.

The company has also spread its manufacturing facilities to other countries. In 1983 Courtaulds acquired an OPP production plant at Mantes-la-Jolie, near Paris, from Rhone Poulenc Films.

In 1984 Shorko Australia was formed in association with Shell and earlier this year a new f12m. OPP line was commissioned at the Albury-Wodonga plant, raising total capacity to 12,000 tonnes of film a year for the Australian, New Zealand and South East Asian markets.

PHOTO : The new process control equipment in Shorko Films' Swindon plant - the nerve centre for the new production line.

PHOTO : Eight metre wide film flows from Shorko's new line at Swindon - the widest and fastest coextruded OPP line in the world.

PHOTO : Slitting machine tailor-made to handle the extra wide rolls from Shorko Films' new line slits a roll to customers' requirements.

PHOTO : An eight metre wide roll of film from Shorko's new line - they are twice as heavy as those from other lines at Swindon.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Food Trade Press Ltd.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Shorko Films
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Feb 1, 1990
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