For its part, GDM expects growth in adult incontinence, specifically in developed regions such as the EU and U.S., where investments for baby diaper and feminine hygiene lines are stable. �In those areas, innovation makes all the difference and GDM has introduced many new designs for adult and baby products,� said Mr. Conio of GDM.
He went on to say that there is a different situation in developing markets, where baby care is the driving sector and is still growing. For this specific market, machines for high quality products with low-to-medium speeds and affordable prices are required, he said. To answer this request, GDM has introduced Chroma lines that provide high quality and guaranteed technology at the price of a second-hand machine. Mr. Conio added that GDM�s sales are constantly increasing in comparison with preceding years. �At present, GDM has a portfolio of orders already equal to last year�s total turnover and, with INDEX 2005 drawing near, we will further increase the level of investments,� he forecast.
SSP also cited growth in the adult incontinence arena as well as in the training pants category, where the company sees products being used as replacements or alternatives to traditional diapers, rather than �training� products per se. In response to demand from both the baby and adult diaper markets, SSP offers the Combo machine, a converting line with quick changeover that can produce both baby diapers and adult incontinence products. The company reports that 80% of its production during the last two years was in the area of Combo machines.
Through its continued relationship with fellow machinery supplier Bicma, SSP recently sold a new belted adult diaper machine to a large multinational company. SSP is also currently testing a new high speed Combo machine (400 meters per minute) including all current product features. The company has introduced an adult diaper machine for all-in-one diapers with belts or wings, which has already been installed in customers� plants.
Additionally, SSP is designing new equipment that will be available for delivery at the end of 2005. �With our partner Bicma, we recently developed equipment for producing an improved core formation. It has been installed on many machines and products are commercially available in various European markets,� SSP�s Mr. Crippa stated.
In addition to demand for faster production speeds and higher quality systems, customers in the baby diaper market are also looking for maximum flexibility at minimum costs. Flexible machinery has been the key to success for C.P.I.D., a supplier that specializes in systems that offer a combination of flexibility, efficiency and price. �We make machinery retrofitting for elastic side panels. Our experience with this new feature is beneficial because we are able to give the most effective solution for the producer,� opined the company�s Mr. Chabierski. �The elastic side panel will be the biggest innovation for the future.� He added that there has not been a major innovation since the leg cuff feature on baby diapers with the exception of raw materials such as hook-and-loop devices. In terms of future market development, Mr. Chabierski recommended close cooperation between raw material and machinery suppliers.
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Fameccanica has also responded to the increased use of elasticized materials with a number of new developments. �In the baby care segment, the introduction of elasticized materials and the growing sales of training pants spurred our development of high speed machines capable of producing both baby diapers and training pants, standardizing the processes and allowing the customers to be competitive in both products,� said Mr. De Angelis. �Furthermore, requests for thinner and higher performing baby diaper cores have impacted the technology and brought on our introduction of a superior core formation system. In the adult incontinence segment, demand for products featuring elasticized ears or adjustable waist belts have encouraged our investment in supplying such technology to our customers.�
In recent months Fameccanica has sold some of its most high-tech machines, particularly in the baby and femcare areas, according to Mr. De Angelis. �High speed and reliable machines are requested by the most advanced and evolved players as a must to reach the goal of reducing manufacturing costs,� he said. The company recently sold a new high speed adult incontinence machine; a new compact 4 meter machine for the production of ultra sanitary napkins tri-folded in the easy wrap mode; and a new fluff core formation system for baby diapers capable of producing a 50/50 mix of SAP/fluff while keeping superior values of pad integrity and a homogenous blend up to 800 pieces per minute.
When it comes to new machines, GDM is another supplier attracting attention in the baby diaper market by offering the ultimate in flexibility. As a specialist in the adult incontinence field, the company reports unprecedented success for its AT-300 line, which combines project reliability and finished product quality with innovation and modular system flexibility. �The line answers the need not only for reliable equipment but for a quality product, without any compromise and at a competitive price,� suggested GDM�s Mr. Conio.
Describing the AT-300 line as a new standard for the medium-high machine sector, Mr. Conio said that the growing adult diaper customers�/producers� expectations for speed, quality and competitiveness were the inspiration for the final design of the line. �Absolute tension and product control, excellence in component design and detailed R&D capability allowed GDM to build this masterpiece of technology,� said Mr. Conio. �Any kind of adult diaper known today can be manufactured at the highest performance standards and the lowest cost on this production line.�
In other recent upgrades to its portfolio, GDM�s modular technology MSS (Modular Supply System) introduced a few years ago on high performing machines (up to 450 m/min) has been made accessible to all. Additionally, the medium speed machine (300m/min) has adopted the modular structure. This project radically changes the means of production, transferring many advantages generated by GDM to the customer: lengthening the profit life of the investment, reducing lead-times, reducing spare parts and simplifying maintenance,� said Mr. Conio.
Flexibility has also been an important consideration for Bikoma, which recently introduced the DEDE 400 system for sanitary napkins, panty liners and light incontinence items. Designed to be flexible and efficient, the new line reduces product cost and increases efficiency. �We sell the DEDE 400 to all categories of customers from private labels to big brands,� remarked Mr. G�bel. �Machines must be flexible in terms of raw material quality. That means even low weight material should run with high efficiency.� The DEDE 400 uses wider material rolls, which are less sensitive and can increase running time. Bikoma�s latest development is a double-layer core with SAP inline.
In the area of rebuilds, Bicma has seen increased demand in the area of absorbent cores as well as technology for inline elastic wings, belts and ears for baby diapers. The company is also selling complete systems featuring core technology and technology for inline elastic wings, belts and ears for adult diapers. In addition to elasticated wings, ears and belts, Bicma is also seeing a trend toward phased diaper backsheets with printmarks, inline airlaid and inline production of highly compressed anatomical discrete cores made of a center layer of fluff/SAP and two outer dusting layers of pure fluff. Cores can be flat or feature pattern embossing for enhanced liquid distribution.
Caldiroli's line for the production of training pants
Also with an eye on flexibility, Caldiroli produces versatile machines capable of keeping up with constant changes in raw material technology. �We are now seeing nonwovens made with cotton fibers for avoiding allergies, soft nonwovens to be used for acquisition and distribution layers, nonwovens coupled with plastic layers, perforated nonwovens and similar products for producing breathable backsheets for diapers,� said Mr. Caldiroli.
For the future, Caldiroli expects innovation to be centered on raw materials rather than machinery. �However,� he said, �we have built a new training pants line and we have begun production of a pull-on pant machine for adults. We are also building a machine for a new, up-to-date model of baby diapers, for which we have high expectations.�
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