In many ways, LMI Packaging, headquartered at Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, typifies the way that production of pressure-sensitive labels has developed over the relatively short time this sector of the print market has existed. The industry was built on ‘Mum & Pop’ shops with a simple press, often working in the garage until the business grew and became successful enough to pass on to the next generation.
When Chester Sykes established LMI in 1967, he could not have foreseen how, over three generations, his business would become one of the leading manufacturers of labels and lids in the US. Today, under the leadership of grandson JP Moran as CEO, the company, which employs around 150 people, is bursting at the seams of its 72,000 sq.ft. facility and actively looking to move to larger premises.
“We’ve seen business double in the past two years, and it shows no sign of slowing down,” he said. A long-time Mark Andy user, LMI currently has an impressive bank of the manufacturer’s Performance P-Series flexo presses, up to 11-colours, and all highly specified. “We see the Mark Andys as good all-round workhorses that are capable of high-speed production of top-quality work,” he added, stating that the company has always prided itself on the hand-tailored solutions it offers its customers in the food & beverage, petfood, beauty, healthcare and household product sectors.
One common factor to the P7 presses is LMI’s preferred choice of corona treater. Director of Engineering AJ Chivell takes up the story. “Our previous presses were fitted with a brand of treater that was not 100% reliable, especially in the humid conditions we experience here in the summer months. They were also difficult for the operator to access for cleaning, maintenance and adjustment.”
After speaking about this issue with other narrow web converters, the brand that consistently drew praise for its reliability and ease of use was Vetaphone. The Danish company, which pioneered the surface treatment technique we all know today as corona, remains the world leader through its ongoing commitment to R&D.
Coping with issues of humidity is well-known to Vetaphone from its experience over the years of supplying technology to converters in a variety of climatic conditions. Key to its success is the well-proven design that separates the power unit from the treater station, which combined with the slow start-up mechanism on the iCorona generator, removes the danger of any condensation causing cut-out or corrosion issues.
With Vetaphone VE-2A treaters fitted to both of its latest Mark Andy P7 lines, production stoppages from condensation causing a power outage on the corona unit is a thing of the past at LMI. “Not only are they reliable and consistent in power delivery, but the location and size of the units also make them easy for the operator to carry out all the necessary jobs to maintain performance,” said AJ Chivell, adding that Vetaphone technology is easy to learn and the units simple to control via the touch-panel.
The key to reliability and performance with all machines is cleaning and maintenance, and LMI imposes a regular program of routine tasks to ensure the corona units stay in tip-top condition. “We have been really impressed by the service and support from Vetaphone’s Eric Hopfensperger who is based locally, so any concerns we might have had about using their equipment were quickly removed – in fact, it could not have worked out better,” he added.
With business booming and the range and number of SKUs the company is asked to supply increasing all the time, the all-round performance and reliability of both Mark Andy and Vetaphone technology for 24/7 operation are fundamental to LMI’s continued success. With a wide variety of substrates being processed at high speed, including PET, BOPP, Co-ex and foil, the company is full of praise for the support it receives from both manufacturers. “I would unquestionably recommend Vetaphone technology to anyone who needs surface treatment and can guarantee it will be their corona treater fitted to our new flexo press that is due to be installed soon,” he concluded.
Ease of use as well as reliability and consistency were all key factors in LMI choosing Vetaphone corona technology