November 28, 2008
by Andrew Joseph, Features Editor
Making brown boxes once used to be a fairly straightforward endeavor, but as the corrugated industry has evolved from a commodity supplier into a value-added products manufacturer over the last decade, the old notions of what once passed for adequate production machinery have vanished into thin air.
For today’s manufacturers of corrugated boxes, staying on top of the technology curve through proactive capital investment is one of the cornerstones of a sound business strategy, according to management of the Norampac-Vaughan corrugated packaging plant in Vaughan, Ont., an operating unit of the Norampac divison of Canada’s leading recycled paper products producer Cascades Inc.
Started up in 2001, the sprawling 400,000-square-foot facility houses a broad range of leading-edge production machinery keeping the lively plant—located a short drive north of Toronto—running an around-the-clock, four-shift, six-days-per-week operation, according to the Norampac-Vaughan divisional engineer Pan Giammarco.
“We’re into boxes of all shapes and sizes,” Giammarco told Canadian Converting on a recent visit to the 200-employee facility, boasting production capacity of 2.4 billion square feet of corrugated per year.
“We produce mostly B-flute, C-flute and double-wall corrugated boxes,” Giammarco relates, “using a process that makes optimal use of (recycled) fiber to lessen the impact on the environment, while ensuring equivalent box strength to virgin-fiber products.
“Let’s face it—the entire industry is focused on sustainability these days, and we are constantly looking at ways we can make our plant more efficient,” Giammarco expands.
“Reducing energy consumption is a constant goal for our plant, which is why we recently replaced all of our lighting with high-output fluorescents that not only shrunk our electrical consumption by 55 per cent, but also reduced the heat output—meaning a more comfortable manufacturing facility.”
Originally started up to serve the company’s customer base in southern Ontario and the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) region, the Norampac-Vaughan operation is a highly-focused, “mean-and-lean’ manufacturing machine that is a firm believer in using the latest capital equipment and leading technologies to retain its competitive edge, according to Giammarco.
“We’re a high-volume, low-cost operation largely thanks to the high level of automation we employ,” he states, “and the standard corrugated products we offer to our high-volume customers.”