Polymer Film & Bag’s Extrusion Capacity Grows

Shown at Polymer Packaging’s plant in Massillon, OH are (from left to right)
Eric Howard, Division President; Larry Lanham, Owner/CEO; Mike Pearce, VP Operations; and Chris Thomazin, Group President.

Jan. 11, 2022

Our Polymer Film & Bag Division was featured in the Fall 2021 issue of Conversions, a publication of Windmoeller & Hoelscher Corp. The article describes Polymer Packaging’s expansion and growth with the addition of five W&H Varex and Optimex film lines, which will help the company to achieve 50 million pounds of capacity this year.

Following is the full text of the article:

Polymer Film & Bag continues to grow with the addition of extrusion capacity, including, three 3-Layer VAREX and two 3-layer OPTIMEX assets.
A division of Polymer Packaging, Polymer Film & Bag, based in Massillon, OH, was launched in 2019 to manufacture converter grade sheeting and custom bag applications. Since then, four W&H blown film lines, a combination of VAREX and OPTIMEX lines, have been installed and an additional OPTIMEX is expected to be operational around Thanksgiving. With this fleet of equipment, the company will reach 50 million pounds by the end of 2021.
The most recently installed line is a 2,800 mm, 3-layer VAREX, equipped with two of W&H’s newest technologies, the Turbostart automated line start and stop system and RUBY for monitoring and analyzing production data. The line is configured with gusset boards.

According to Eric Howard, President, installation and commissioning were on time, smooth and as expected. What did surprise him, however, was the performance of the Turbostart system, which was customized to accommodate the machine’s gussets.

“We didn’t foresee the full effect of Turbostart. It’s cut down on downtime by fivefold. Now, regardless of the size of material, unscheduled downtime events are lasting only around 15 minutes,” he said.

“We use Turbostart as a tool to complement Easy Change and were amazed that Easy Change can recover parameters from the previous run and use those as if the machine had been running the whole time,” Howard said. “The system is adding 10-15 hours per week into our production schedule, which equates to roughly three-quarters of a million dollars of capacity per asset per year. It’s savvy.”

The company has also seen that Turbostart broadens both the labor force and opportunity. “The time to train and bring an operator up to an effective level has been reduced by 10 times. That means that we’re saving a lot of money on training resources and also on scrap that would normally accumulate while an operator is learning the ropes. That’s a lot of savings per operator per year. This is time we can now use to focus on sales.” The company ordered Turbostart retrofits for their two existing VAREX lines.

As for their experience with the RUBY system, Howard says there isn’t enough legacy data for a good statistical swatch yet. He plans to collect data over the next couple of months, review it internally, then present findings to W&H engineers in January 2022.

Polymer Film & Bag is about to start a new expansion phase, which will include adding another two or three extrusion lines in the existing 100,000 sq ft facility. The second phase will allow for another 105,000 sq ft expansion that will accommodate up to an additional 10 blown film lines, totaling 18 at this site.