Packaging Automation, a leader in the lidding machinery and polyester films sectors, and DuPont Teijin Films are working together in a bid to revolutionise the heat sealing market.
Staff from the two companies travel regularly between Packaging Automation's base in Cheshire, UK and DuPont Teijin Films' global research facility, on Teesside, UK, to set up, carry through and evaluate trials of new films and other packaging materials.
As far as the DuPont Teijin Films' team is concerned, just about the most important piece of equipment on site is one of Packaging Automation's earliest machines, the bench-mounted PA201. It has allowed trials to proceed like clockwork for more than 20 years - and is still going strong, PA claims.
Moira Jeffels, DuPont Teijin Films' application development specialist, said: "It is one of the earliest pieces of machinery of its type that Packaging Automation made. It has had a very long and hard life but it still gives an excellent performance."
Now DuPont Teijin Films is looking to supplement it with another piece of Packaging Automation's engineering expertise. But while the 'new' machine will use the latest state-of-the-art materials, its design and operation builds on the success of earlier models.
Andy Beeley, Packaging Automation's packaging technologist, and sales manager Neil Ashton are currently poring over archive drawings of the 201 with the likelihood that a one-off will be produced, tailored to DuPont Teijin Films' requirements and incorporating some of the features of the one built two decades ago.
Jeffels, who is being promoted to another role within DuPont Teijin Films, is anxious to leave her successor Leigh Richardson the legacy of Packaging Automation's engineering at its best.
"We have had a top quality relationship with Packaging Automation for a long time, particularly where development and trials of films is concerned. We are the market leader in the supply of heat-sealable Mylar branded polyester films for the ready meal industry and obviously Packaging Automation is one of the leading suppliers of machinery into that market. So naturally we use one of their machines for our development work and customer trials," she said.
Initial work is done as a laboratory scale trial at Wilton, particularly when DuPont Teijin Films wins a new client, wants to test the compatibility of a new type of tray with a Mylar brand film or wants to transition from aluminium to polyester trays. "They would decide their requirements and ask us to recommend a film," said Jeffels.
After the in-house trials, the close working relationship between DuPont Teijin Films and Packaging Automation is such that one of the next steps is often a visit to Packaging Automation's trial kitchen. "After we have done the laboratory-scale work on new films there is a second level scale up, using a semi-automatic machine," said Jeffels.
"We sometimes do this work in conjunction with Packaging Automation if they are the incumbent supplier of the machinery for our customer, because we can make machinery modifications at the same time as we are doing the film trials. While we might do the majority of the testing on our in-house machine it is not unknown for us to spend a day or two in Packaging Automation's trial kitchen."
Now the relationship between the two companies is being taken a step further. Both are heavily involved in a value chain exercise aimed at developing new products for a top retailer.
Both Packaging Automation and DuPont Teijin Films are focused and ambitious companies, determined to maintain their pre-eminent positions in the marketplace. For their many customers this can only be good news.
Packaging Automation was established in 1963 and is the UK's leading manufacturer of heat sealing machinery for the food industry. The company supplies a host of leading food and beverage retailers, including M&S, J Sainsbury, Asda and Tesco to name but a few.