Continuous improvement is thematic of almost any growing industry. Consumers will always want improved performance in the products they use, particularly those used on a regular basis—like hygiene products, and these products continue to evolve, but they can only do so thanks to the companies that design the machinery used to make them. These companies are constantly looking to improve their hygiene equipment and machinery offerings, whether it’s for the baby diaper, feminine hygiene or adult incontinence markets.
The following is a review of the latest machinery, equipment and services offered from the nonwovens industry’s leading hygiene machinery manufacturers.
Fameccanica’s machinery offerings cover all aspects of the hygiene industry and include baby diapers/pants, lady pads/panty liners, adult diapers/pants, light Inco and bed underpads with converting, stacking and packaging solutions. The portfolio also includes a wide range of technical solutions from the entry-level platforms to the high performance market.
Fameccanica’s machines for baby diapers and pants feature a range of performances of the different machines (from 500 to 1000 ppm) but also by several innovative solutions, like technologies for the manufacturing of thin diapers, several solutions for elastic ears including those with zero trim and solutions for the stacking/packaging including the recent innovation for “low count” bags. Meanwhile, the feminine hygiene category includes machines for pads from 1000 to 1500 ppm and panty liners from 1500 to 4000 ppm with the capability to realize the widest range of feminine hygiene products with all the most important and recent features requested by the market.
The highest level of innovation has been seen in the category of adult incontinence items, according to marketing manager Alessandro D’Andrea. “The brief segment includes solutions for the multipiece structure with rectangular or shaped ears and highlights the Fameccanica patented solution for asymmetric zero-trim ears,” he says. “Besides the traditional adult pants with elastic threads, the pant segment includes machines to realize adult pants with the unique Fameccanica patented solution of elasticization with breathable, ultrasonically bonded elastic laminate with film. Machine speeds for briefs range within 200 and 450 ppm. Pant diapers can be produced with speed up to 400 ppm.”
Recent introductions from Fameccanica include high speed machines for adult pants FIX P4X, featuring the unique Fameccanica patented solution of elastication with breathable, ultrasonically bonded elastic laminate with film. Production speed is up to 400 ppm. Additionally, a new entry level platform for adult incontinence, FIX B2, is available for the leg shaped adult incontinence briefs with wide chassis. Manufacturers can use it to make both incontinence briefs and bed underpads. A multipiece version with rectangular back and front ears is also available.
Within the baby diaper market, Fameccanica has recently introduced an entry level option for pull-on pants, the FA-X Cathay X-Pant, which is available in two versions—to produce pants in a three-piece H-structure or a two-piece hourglass structure. Additionally, a new low-count packaging solution, “I-Wrap,” which stands for integrated wrapping, can be integrated into the converting machines, adding the ability to wrap diapers into lower count bags.
“Entry level machines for adult briefs and baby pants are more frequently requested by the companies operating or planning installations in the developing countries and require lower costs combined with the level of quality and reliability that only Fameccanica can give,” D’Andrea explains. “This is the same trend that Fameccanica has been supporting for many years with our famous entry-level machines for baby diapers which the company continues to provide with proven satisfaction of customers.”
Other trends being witnessed by Fameccancia include the increased need for adult pants with film elasticization, which are requested by consumers who desire fit and comfort in adult incontinence and the industry is widening the portfolio of incontinence products to make pant-diapers more and more similar to the traditional underwear.
Meanwhile, products like I-wrap look at both those markets where people cannot afford to buy standard packages and those countries where always-on-the-run ladies and moms want to have a daily usage pack in their bags, for both diapers or lady napkins. I-wrap is very helpful for advertising, sampling and launching of new products in low-count bags.
Luciano Busacchio, sales area manager says he believes the word “growth” is the one that can best describe today’s global market for hygiene machinery. “The demand is steady, in some areas it shows a continuous upward trend. The replacement of old, obsolete lines, new product features, the increase of the number of adult diaper users and, above all, highly populated/booming economy countries are the factors driving up demand,” he says. “Fameccanica has been able to retain its leadership because it has constantly increased its production capacity by means of the establishment of new factories and service centers in China, South America and the U.S.”
The main challenges are keeping customers aware that Fameccanica has multiple equipment alternatives and offerings in every machine platform it manufactures including the platforms for today’s most sophisticated markets for the evolving adult incontinence products, according to Alfredo Miccoli, sales area, manager. “With an increasing overflow of orders intake the delivery time has somewhat been penalized however the end result, once the equipment was delivered / installed / tested, proved to be in line with our customers’ expectation on the Fameccanica supply,” he says.
GDM has five technological platforms—Chroma, Start, Matrix, X3M and Discovery—to satisfy the specific needs of each market and every single customer in manufacturing hygiene disposable products such as baby diapers, adult incontinence and feminine care. These five platforms differ from each other in terms of the technological solutions adopted, the predisposition to accomplish products more or less complex and the guaranteed performance (annual volume).
The Chroma Platform covers production speeds up to 200m/min; it provides the predisposition for all the principle product features and a scaled configuration to follow the customer from start-up to complete maturity. The Start Platform is designed for a production speed up to 300m/min and has been studied to deliver the advantages of a significant reduction in finished goods costs with a flexible configuration, able to adapt to different product design. The Matrix Platform is designed for a speed up to 375 m/min and is perfect for the competitive markets where product quality and innovations are a must. The X3M Platform, for a production speed up to 450m/min is state-of-the-art hygiene disposable technology. X3M means extreme modularity and total automation but also efficiency and reliability beyond any expectations. The Discovery Platform, for production speeds up to 600m/min, represents the GDM development of the new high speed hygiene disposable production lines capable to answer new market needs in the field of product innovation and production capabilities.
During the last 12 months, GDM has introduced a number of products to the market. These include the Discovery Youth Pant machine, the first machine direction baby training pant machine designed with the revolutionary disc rotation concept that characterizes the Discovery technology platform. Additionally, the Start BT with front and shaped rear panels offers unique capabilities in terms of big waist band applications and the X3M adult heavy inco machine is now available in speeds up to 500 ppm.
GDM’s Thin Core ISA Technology enables the company to localize the superabsorbent polymers (SAP) into the absorption pad. The result is a super-thin core with high superabsorbent polymer ratio.GDM has also introduced new technological tools for retrieving reliable and categorized data and methods for improving production efficiency.
According to Daniele Ponzinibbi, marketing manager, each regional market and each market segment has its own needs and trends. “Nevertheless, if we accept to generalize, we can notice a clear focus among the players in the industry to maximize the overall equipment effectiveness,” she says. “We also see huge efforts in product design optimizations both to enhance performances but also to minimize material waste. Another trend is the demand of more flexibility in production both in terms of raw material usage and size range capabilities.”
She adds, “The reduction of the overall costs of the product, a progressive increase of the production speed to keep or improve the efficiency and reduce wastage levels are surely the key parameters for the customer’s competiveness that together with the assurance to produce a high standard of quality for their finished products have always been the key factors that, over the years, have been changing the hygiene machinery technology process and will continue to change it in the future. “
With raw material producers constantly introducing new materials with different purposes offering hygiene manufacturers more possibilities to configure and differentiate their product, technology producers, like GDM have to guarantee their customers the opportunity to exploit all the new possibilities coming from the raw materials market by offering a high level of flexibility and modularity of their technical process, Ponzinibbi adds.
“The market is rapidly moving towards more sophisticated products where their appearance plays an important role to gain competitive advantage among producers,” she says. “This is one of the reasons for the development of new extreme shapes of discrete features such as the new thin core material, colored printing features and perfume.”
GDM has retained its leadership position through innovation, adaptability to different market needs and focus on customer satisfaction trough pre-sales and after-sales support always aiming to find the best solution for every need. Innovation has been and will continue to be the epicenter of our business. Multiple breakthrough innovations have been implemented by GDM in the last years and many others will come in the next ones.
To be competitive in the global markets, GDM as a company of the Coesia Group has concentrated his efforts on strengthening regional organizational structures to ensure a better presence in certain areas by reducing the distance to the end customers. Currently GDM has operating units in Offanengo, Italy, (Richmond, VA, San Paolo, Brazil and Suzhou, China. The recent investment in the new production facility in China is the most recent example of how GDM is strategically important to confirm its global reach in all the main different regions where offering specifically designed and customized solutions is essential to aligning with different markets needs.
“Our aim is to be as close as possible to our current and potential clients in diverse markets, tuning in to emerging needs, guaranteeing quick – top quality service, reinforcing existing sales channels and creating new ones, and in some cases developing customized local solutions,” Ponzinibbi says. “A local presence makes it possible to grasp and share different needs with clients in order to design and supply product lines that are not only technologically advanced but that can also adapt to local conditions.
“The need to make production lines even more efficient, with reduced machine idle time and real-time on line modifications, requires ongoing support and an advanced monitoring system,” she concludes. “All this is achievable with a comprehensive technical support and after sales network which includes the capacity to produce and manage spare parts, guaranteeing an immediate support. The Coesia regional structure offer these opportunities and set us apart from our competitors.”
Current Bicma offerings comprise customized high- and medium-speed equipment for all hygiene product categories such as adult incontinence products and diapers, baby diapers, light-incontinence products and feminine care products. Beyond these traditional hygiene products, Bicma is developing and building special customized equipment for new and innovative products in other markets. Synergy effects with its existing technology portfolio give the company a leading position in these markets, supported by its wide experience in designing and developing customized converting equipment.
New products introduced in the past 12 months include innovative technical solutions to manufacture new product concepts for the adult incontinence market. These include adult diaper machines for products with add-on zero waste ears, resulting in material costs savings of approximately €1.5 million per year, baby diaper machinery in three different speed levels of 500, 700 and 1000 pieces per minute with elastic ears, high-density cores and fluffless cores, machinery for the production of light-incontinence products with short-cut foam or Lycra elastics for up to 1200 pcs./min. and a linear speed up to 400 m/min.
Continued demand for sustainability of hygiene products manufacturing has influenced Bicma to develop processes to minimize the use of raw materials by reducing waste and increasing efficiency.
Key competencies our customers appreciate most at Bicma are experience and flexibility in understanding their requirements and transferring these into reliable and innovative equipment solutions. The private ownership of Bicma allows quick decisions and a rapid pace of innovation. This complies with customers’ requests for short delivery time and flexible reaction to special design requests and changes.
Bicma executives count constant innovation needed to respond to rapidly changing raw material markets and short product lifecycles among its greatest challenges. “Our customers need flexibility to convert new materials and to respond to new market trends fast,” executives say. “Therefore modularity of our equipment is essential. Bicma has developed smart solutions for easy fast changeovers and integration of new features. On several new machines, most mechanical size parts are replaced by smart electronical solutions reducing time and price for size changes to a minimum. Thus Bicma has transformed the key market challenges into key success factors for our customers.”
The last developments from in MD Viola consist of two new machines for baby and adult products with nonwoven ears and hook-and-loop closure systems with zero trim side panel systems, according to Davide Viola. “This new product configuration decreases the total amount of material used per diaper and maintains the overall diaper performance, he says. “The lesser quantity of plastic and nonwoven used for the diaper construction helps very consistently lessen the diaper cost and more important immediately reduce the diaper impact to the environmental issues.”
Everyday, customers at MD Viola are asking for better machinery performance and innovation on the final product, and we work hard for keep our customer satisfied with machinery upgrade and developing new solution for achieve the best result is possible for compete in the diaper market.
MD Viola sold its first diaper line in 1987, and, as Viola points out, it is “one very good and powerful machine, able to run at 200 diapers per minute.” But the machinery has evolved dramatically over the years. The 1987 unit was driven via AC motor and had many gears and chains, with an electric board is 2 x 2 meters Today, the diaper machine has no gears, no chains, and the electric board is bigger than the production line and runs at 600 diaper per minute and more. “The machinery’s capability has increased about 200 pieces every 10 years,”Viola says.“We Have a full set of lines for the hygiene industry from the sanitary Napkin line to the adult Pull-On line, including a special unit with flexo printing, for printing in-line sanitary napkins or the backsheet on the diaper. We also made a full servo automatic packaging machine,” Viola explains. “Our goal is to give the full solution to our customers – faster and easier.”
Japan’s Zuiko receives hundreds of inquiries for sanitary napkins each year from around the world. Most recently, there has been increased increase from Asia and the Middle East.
“Unfortunately, we cannot comment on the products we are developing with our customers, but product trends are difficult to generalize because markets around the world are so different from one another,” says sales and marketing manger Curtis Woo. “We believe that in general, the market for sanitary napkins will continue to grow. There are millions of women around the world who currently do not use disposable sanitary napkins due to economic reasons or social stigmas; rural India is a prime example. The potential is there and only time will tell when and where things will change.
Zuiko’s strength is its design and engineering and the key to its success is its customers. “We work hard to keep our customers satisfied and successful and in return, they help us stay in an industry leadership position,” Woo continues.
Zuiko’s standard converting line, Z-Style, for baby tape diapers has been very popular since its introduction a few years ago. Z-Style combines production efficiency, machine speed, reliability and simple operation at a competitive price. Spare parts are readily available as well as a wide range of upgrades and options to adapt to the customer’s market and business.
China-based JWC designs and manufactures full servo machinery, including a full servo baby diaper machine, a full servo adult diaper machine, a full servo underpad machine and more. According to JWC’s Delia Ju, the equipment JWC manufactures keeps up with the most current styles of product. “We have a new design for full servo baby diaper machine with the elastic ear tape, which is the most trendy product style,” she says.
The company services all different kinds of raw materials for producing hygienic products, such as fluff pulp, nonwoven, tissue paper, waistband, SAP, glue, perforated film, PE film, release paper, and more.
“We have 60 models of hygienic products machines, which are divided into eight series, they are diaper, sanitary napkin, panty liner, bed under pad, wet napkin, tissue napkin, packing, single use medical supplies.
Also, JWC trading company supplies different grades of raw materials for production. Ju says, “It saves customers time to searching good suppliers of raw materials with good prices because we can do all that for them.”
Chinese disposable hygiene machinery maker Hanwei began production in 1993 with a sanitary napkin production line. Today the company manufactures equipment for the production of adult incontinence products, baby diapers, underpads, sanitary napkins, panty shields, wet tissue and disposable medical products as well as stacking and packing units.
Its latest machinery includes full servo design and shaftless driving, a modular design, auto splicing, high precision mechanical parts, reliable performance, high efficiency and ease of operation.
The company’s mission is to continuously provide professional technology and innovation, strive to minimize production costs and work out solutions to highly specialized client requirements, gradually expanding into other disposable fields, such as medical care, household products and soft package goods. Hanwei’s goal is to be recognized as a leading disposable machinery manufacturer, creating more value for its clients worldwide. With increased product variations, the company is working hard to develop a globalized brand.