The growing importance of adult incontinence plus a widespread need for increased flexibility has changed the game for makers
In recent years, technology for products like baby diapers, feminine hygiene nd adult incontinence products have become more innovative, more flexible and more efficient. Throughout the world, hygiene companies are looking to achieve more with their machinery investment and manufacturers have risen to the challenge with new lines that offer the ability to process a wider range of raw materials and make a more far reaching product line. The following is a look at what some of the world’s largest suppliers of hygiene machinery have to offer.
Anqing Heng Change Machinery
Anqing Heng Chang Machinery (HCH) offers baby diaper machines, adult care machines, sanitary napkin machines and a full servo control robot case packer. HCH has been continuously focusing on the innovation of various machines to broaden the supply category and improve speed and performance.
In 2016, HCH introduced a new sanitary pro machine targeting 1800 ppm with a dual lane packing machine capable of 140 cycles/min. This machine is equipped with a case packer with a robot, offering complete solutions for converting machines. Additionally, HCH will have a diaper machine able to make full width waistbands on 800 ppm lines. Various new functions will be used on this machine so that the final product is more skin-friendly.
Bicma has been making hygiene machinery since 1995. Since then, the company has seen the focus shift from sanitary napkins and pantyshields to a much broader range of products that includes baby diapers, light incontinence products, adult-shaped pads, adult diapers, feminine hygiene products, under pads, meat pads, pet pads and nursing pads.
“We made every effort to take new trends duly into considerations,” says management assistant Sina Geiger. “Our machines were improved technically in order to maintain control of tension in longitudinal and transversal direction to the maximum possible extent. To give an example, our splicers were further enhanced so that tension does not vary during splice process.”
The result has been the ability to process less stable materials including nonwovens and films that are softer or more elastic. Bicma has also pushed developments that directed better fluff distribution and better positioning of super absorbents in order to be able to produce thinner diapers. The first machine with this technology was delivered in 2007 with up to 70% superabsorbent polymer in the mixed zone of the core.
Another trend that Bicma has had to adapt to in recent years is the growing role of adult incontinence. “ Bicma has developed an innovative system which enables production of multiple products on the same machine like adult diapers, adult shaped pads and underpads,” Geiger adds. “Moreover, Bicma is currently starting up a machine for the production of adult diapers with add-on ears with size change times of less than two hours.”
Flexibility in hygiene machinery design is especially important for new customers entering the market as they want to be able to make as wide a product range as possible with one machine.
Bicma therefore takes special care to automate size changes as much as possible. This is demonstrated in the newly developed adult diaper machine, which also enables size change in less than two hours.
Business continues to be strong for Fameccanica, showing that the company’s strategy of non-stop innovation, improved services and global presence is working. An increased level of trust between Fameccanica and its customers has resulted in a greater ability to create new product and process solutions in parallel with its capability to deliver high-technology equipment.
In response to demand for increased softness, Fameccanica is offering a solution for the online manufacturing of three-dimensional soft laminates. The key features of this proposal are significant increases in loftness/softness/caliper versus initial layers, thickness increase normally higher than three times the initial layer (+200% and over), different aesthetics on the two sides, where one side is characterized by protrusions and the opposite side is characterized by a channel effect delivering very soft regular pleats.
For low or no pulp diapers, Fameccanica has been anticipating these reductions for many years and today the company is able to deliver core forming systems with high flexibility (wide operating window) which are now well recognized in the market, such as U-Forming for high speed machines and H-Forming for medium speeds, capable of delivering cores with SAP/fluff ratios from 50:50 up to 70:30 and higher.
Also, Fameccanica has been a pioneer in introducing fluffless core solutions and has continuously improved its solution, becoming now able to offer a proven fluffless core product+process solution, with minimized or zero turtle-effect and with excellent integrity.
For stretch, Fameccanica is famous for its unique technology for the processing of ultrasonically bonded, breathable, elastic laminates. This concept is valid both as waistband for CD pants and as laminate for MD side panels and back ears. In the first case, this is available as an optional inline process on all of its machines for protective underwear and baby pants. In the second case, Fameccanica offers either a “stand alone” solution (FLS laminator with rewinders, capable to produce roll goods for several diaper machines) or an “in-line” version where the FLS is integrated in the converter.
Marketing and innovation manager Alessandro D’Andrea notes how China is becoming more influential to the industry. “This is valid overall, as this country has such a huge potential to influence all other markets,” he says. “Specifically, we still believe that diaper design is more influenced by the Japanese products rather than from truly Chinese solutions.”
The Asian market is also influencing growing demand for pants style diapers and Fameccanica has three baby pant machine platforms featuring a “cross direction” manufacturing process for diapers with full waist elastication with production speed of 650, 800 and the recently introduced 900 ppm high speed version.
Fameccanica has also recently introduced a new concept where the elasticization is made by the intermittent application of elastic film with its well-known unique technology for in-line processing of breathable, elastic laminates. This technology is also finding success within adult incontinence, where demand is increasing for products with better fit and comfort while offering cost savings.
Another interesting achievement in the field of adult incontinence is the “BEST” Zero Trim Ear Technology, the well-known and appreciated Fameccanica patent solution for asymmetric Back Ears Sans Trim, that can allow “€7-digit” estimated savings per year, available on the high capacity machine model FIX P5.
As customers request more modern machines by integrating the most recent digital technologies, Fameccancia has had to look at new options. In 2016, the company introduced Fameccanica Easylife. Developed in collaboration with Microsoft, Easylife is a company collaboration network facilitating the management of manufacturing plants through the collection, exchange, distribution and use of ordered information. Each client has proprietary access to the data, allowing them to define specific dynamics, hierarchies, and data display modes. Maintenance is also simplified: interventions can be planned in advance, using precise and detailed information collected over each machine lifecycle.
Fujian Peixin Machine Manufacture Industry Co., Ltd., has been in the hygiene products machinery manufacturing business for over 30 years. The company has focused on baby/adult diaper machinery, sanitary napkin machinery, underpad/pet mattress machinery, tissue converting machinery, and more. Recently, Fujian Peixin has designed a full servo elastic waistband baby diaper production line featuring high production speed with materials non-stop auto-splicing; ease of running and maintaining with high stability and a remote control system that can be controlled and detected at the Peixin company. The new machine can produce elastic waistband baby diapers that are tension adjustable with good elasticity. “The new elastic waistband baby diaper production line helps us to open up and grasp a new market and improve our market competitiveness,” says Kaida Xie, general manager.
Hygiene machinery supplier GDM’s product portfolio focuses on its value proposition (performance, flexibility, scalability and innovation) and includes more than 50 converting and packaging solutions. Treasuring our close connections with customers and the insights coming from the market, GDM has developed a portfolio of solutions serving overall equipment effectiveness increase, impact minimization of size change activities and future evolution capabilities of production capacity and product development, according to our customers’ needs.
“Our approach has evolved, too.” Says Daniele Ponzinibbi, head of sales and marketing. “Manufacturers are shifting attention to the final product and its attributes, and it has necessarily become the compass inspiring our innovation commitment and value generation.”
To understand and identify trend within the hygiene market, GDM spends a lot of time analyzing the market to develop new products for its customers. Its Option Zero Program uses the new Zero Glue upgrade kit to promotes the use of alternative bonding solutions to reduce the use of glue.
Another important development, this one for low or no pulp/thin diapers, is the Extra Thin Core, which allows for an optimal fluff and SAP mix distribution and meeting the demand for thinner products.
For increased stretchability, GDM’s Big Waist Band offers an option for the creation of an elastic waist band in line, giving more elasticity to the products for a softer and snugglier body-hugging fit. This allows the end use product to be more comfortable and offer improved diaper support to prevent leaks. This development was partially influenced by the need for improved comfort, fit , softness and wearablity, which is being driven by customers in the Far East.
The growing role of adult incontinence has influenced GDM to develop new lines that offer on side panet shapes to increase comfort and wearability.
“Asymmetric panels can be manufactured with A3-MA and A5-MA Red lines (mid and high speed), allowing diversified profiles and raw materials usage and reducing costs, while our A3-MS Red for symmetric panels is the right machine to manufacture the evolved hourglass product with the same fitting but with a significant reduction in raw materials costs,” Ponzinibbi says.
The changing trends and different market dynamics within the hygiene market has made flexibility a top priority for hygiene equipment suppliers, he adds. “Exploiting GDM patented linear motion and E-cam technologies, our flexible machines can to manage multiple sizes and product lengths with no hardware changes. With just one equipment our customers will satisfy their needs of shelf availability, time and cost control and regional market requirements,” he adds.
One last thing consumers are starting to look at more is packaging, which is the easiest way for manufacturers to communicate their message. For this reason, GDM has decided to parlay its 30-years of experience in hygiene machinery production into packaging production. Its affiliation with Coesia group has allowed GDM to offer end of line solutions including bag quality control,bags handling with conveyors and buffers, case packers and buffers, case packers, bundlers and pelletizers. “We offer best-in-class converting lines, together with stand-alone and turnkey solutions with packaging lines. This possibility allows our customers to simplify the integration, increase production line flexibility and maximize overall equipment effectiveness.”
Guangzhou Xingshi Equipments offers full servo sanitary napkin machines, pantyliner machines, female pull-up napkin machines, spill-proof pad machines, baby pull-up diaper machines, baby diaper machines, adult diaper machines, adult pull-up machines, as well as an automatic stacker and bagger system, diaper auto packaging system, vision system, electrical cam, and flow meter for hotmelt.
Hangzhou Creator Machinery
Hangzhou Creator Machinery offers baby diaper, adult diaper, sanitary napkin, underpad, and material laminated machines for the hygiene industry. Most recently, the company introduced a full servo with ultrasonic sealing hour-glass type pull on baby diaper machine (T type compatible) and a full servo adult incontinence diaper machine (pant type sanitary napkin compatible). Wang Zan, chief sales director, says all of the machines the company manufactures are designed according to each customer’s request. Hangzhou Creator can supply a series of services using the latest product information, the latest raw material information and the latest technology in the field.
Curt Joa, Inc.
In recent years, Curt Joa, Inc., has seen its role evolve beyond being a machinery builder to becoming a complete partner offering customers individualized solutions to achieve their goals. “These solutions include a variety of forms, such as connected machines to identify maintenance needs and communicate material depletion alerts or automated material handling,” marketing manager Paula Inda says.
To achieve these goals, Joa maintains close ties with raw material suppliers to develop processes for new materials. “We strive to offer manufacturing processes for these new materials as they hit the market. As a result, we develop the necessary methods to process new materials as customers’ designs incorporate them into products,” Inda adds.
One example is a recently invented folding process that is much gentler on the final baby diaper product. While initial testing with materials revealed a concern with the thinner cores cracking or breaking when folded at higher speeds, the development of a low-impact crossfolder, the Gentle Fold, ensures customers that their product will perform as designed.
The adult inco market has been a strong segment for Joa since the early 1990s. The explosion of product features specific to incontinence issues has influenced the increase in machine process platforms. Features such as printing, absorbency, leakage protection, pouches and wraps require high-performance machine processes.
“We have done a significant amount of R&D aimed at the adult inco segment, and we have developed several disruptive technologies that give our customers new ways to be more efficient and competitive. From our patented Web Velocity Modulator in the early 2000s, to our current insert placement technology, we’ve continually developed new technology that breaks speed limitations while supporting the new product features.”
Joa currently offers two adult pant platforms—the J8T-AP and the J7I-AP. The end product made by either machine can be identical as they share many of the same processes. Also, size-change parts are interchangeable with a few exceptions.
The J8T produces at a higher rate than the J7I. A customer may choose one machine over the other based on market size or operate both the J7I and J8T machines in the same plant producing dedicated product sizes. This unique combination of technologies gives customers many options for efficiency, both in operations and capital spending. With a smaller machine “footprint” of 300 square feet, the J7I requires less floor space in a customer’s facility than the J8T which is 34 x15 meters. This gives customers the flexibility to choose the machine that best fits their requirements.
With 35 years of experience in the baby diaper market, MD Viola Macchine has seen significant evolution during the time. “We always try to be on top of all the changes and innovation of this always changing industry,” communications expert Cristina Viola says. “What has remained the same over the years is that MD Viola, was and still is, a family owned company, which has allowed us to maintain a higher quality of our products, more control over all the production phases and a focused attention to our clients’ needs and requests.”
In recent years, MD Viola has focused its attention mainly on making eco-friendly improvements for example decreasing the amount of energy needed for diaper fabrication. Today’s machines now use 30% less energy than earlier generations. This lowers production costs and uses fewer resources. And, MD Viola’s latest generation machines feature improved superabsorbent polymer distribution and decreased hot melt usage, allowing for faster production speeds without impacting quality.
“The goal is to have thinner diapers with the same quality and resistance is an important one for our clients. Other important demands from our clients is to have more money saving machines without impacting the quality of their products. In order to answer to our clients’ demands our engineers are always looking at new ways and equipment to satisfy their requests,” Viola says.
The company has always been one of the major producers of adult incontinence machines. “Over the years, we have followed and studied the adult diaper in order to improve our machines’ performance and reliability,” Viola says. “We have seen the adult diapers market grow continuously and steadily during the years. With a new pull-on machine for adult and feminine products, MD Viola now has a complete line of adult incontinence machines.”
While China has certainly been a big influence of diaper design, Viola feels that there are many types of diapers on the market that are being influenced by design from all over the world. “Even though, it is important to consider China as the important and big market that it is,” Viola says. “In fact, thanks to fast economic growth, China is one of the best markets to invest in today. It is a young market, much more hectic than the rest of the world, and for this reason is always important to follow and to be informed about all the China innovations’ and developments, and to not be unprepared.”
In recent years, Viola has seen demand for adult machines beome equal to those for baby diaper machines. In this category, MD Viola offers two different solutions of adult diaper machines starting with a production speed of 200 pc/minute to a speed of 300 pc/minute.
Quanzhou Hanwei Machinery
Hanwei recently launched the HW-NK-1200 Full Servo Zero Gap Sanitary Napkin Machine. The new machine offers a high-speed, high-efficiency, visualized, intelligent, full servo control system. Its power and control center is in a centralized management, modularity design.
It also provides a perfect quality detection system, zero speed automatic splicing system, and the complete machine is equipped with a phase control and detection system. New fluff core forming technology provides rapid adsorption and quick diffusion. Other advantages of the machine include easy transformation and upgrading, while zero gap producing minimizes raw material wastage.
Three Wood Machinery
Jinhu Three Wood Machinery Industry Co., Ltd. supplies lines for baby pull-up diapers, baby diapers, adult diapers, adult insert pads, adult pull-on diapers, under pads, sanitary napkins, panty liners, auto packing units and more for the hygiene industry. Three Wood recently launched the SM-800YK Zero Waste T Type Baby Diaper machine. This machine is controlled by a full servo driving system and the production speed is 800 pcs/min. The degree of automation is very high and the speed of stacker and auto packing unit is 50 pcs/min, with no waste during the entire production.
“It adopts elastic material for ears, so it is comfortable to wear and not easy to shift,” says Li Yibao, general manager. This new machine also claims a number of patents of invention and 10 National Utility Model Patents.
Zuiko has expanded and developed its overseas business over the years. In addition to its manufacturing facilities in China and Brazil, the company has offices in the U.S., Thailand and Indonesia. While adult incontinence has always been important to the company, in recent years it has expanded its offerings in this market.
“This technology allowed products to become more ‘underwear-like’ and convenient for users,” says director Curtis Woo. “For many years since then, pants style diapers have become very popular in Japan. Currently, popularity of pants style diapers is growing many in markets outside of Japan.”
Zuiko has been working on developing converting machines for thinner core products for several years, and advancements have allowed these new generation products to absorb and protect better than earlier ones while using lighter, thinner and less material.
“Zuiko’s goal is to manufacture the best converting machine and provide customers with equipment to produce comfortable, convenient and high value products,” Woo adds. “We hope to continue working on cutting-edge technology that improves quality of life for everyone around the world at all socioeconomic stages.”
All of the changes in the hygiene market are possible due to advances in raw materials and converting technologies. Zuiko’s business as a manufacturer of converting machines is providing technology to help its customers produce new and innovative products and drive markets around the world.
“Diapers made in Japan are popular in China. For the past several years, Chinese visitors to Japan schedule time specifically to purchase boxes of diapers,” he says. “The demand was so great that it forced retailers to limit diaper purchases per customer in order keep product on shelves for domestic consumers.”
In response to this, diaper manufacturers have increased production capacity and began offering “premium quality” branded items which meant adjusting production equipment to accommodate specific material and process changes.
By Karen McIntyre, Editor | January 2, 2017