As promised, here’s a big interview with Alexander Mangushev, CEO of Gofro Technologies Company (the second story about GT Group). Big and very interesting
“2019-2020 are the most successful years in the history of our group,” says Alexander Mangushev. “First of all, by the volume of supplies.”
“We created the GT Group management company. It manages four brands: Gofro Technologies (Гофро Технологии), PPI/Pulp & Paper Industry/ Service (ЦБП Сервис), Petromash Service (Петромаш Сервис) and InDetails (ВДеталях).
We bought another office of more than 600 sq. m at the Petrogradskaya side, not far from the Stolypin monument, where GT Group, PPI Service and Petromash Service will be located.
In the suburbs of St. Petersburg, about 2 km off the city ring road, on the Scandinavia — St. Petersburg — Helsinki highway, we purchased about 3 hectares of industrial area with a building of 1000 sq. m (Luppolovo village).
There we have built a service complex of 5,000 sq. m and completed the construction of warehouse premises with a total area of 2,000 sq. m. We have branded these buildings and have cleaned up the territory.
Every day 2-5 trucks with containers of 30-60 tons call in at the site. As the site used to be a cement plant, heavy equipment can be loaded and unloaded there.
The first building of the complex is the Work Shop, belonging to PPI Service. There is a lathe workshop, a milling workshop, electrical workshops, paint booths. In addition, there is a section for assembly and disassembly, adjustment and repair of equipment.
The second building is the Machine Store, equipment warehouse, belonging to Gofro Technologies.
And the third one — the Spare Store — is a warehouse for storing spare parts with a total area of about 4000 sq. m. It boasts three-level racks and the latest warehouse equipment.
Now concerning our job. Gofro Technologies specializes in the supply of a full range of equipment for corrugated board plants and their turnkey construction.
Our reliable partner for the supply of transport systems is our longtime friend Tiziano de Vido, CEO of the Italian company Fossaluzza, which produces classic peripheral equipment.
This company is known for the world’s best prefeeders, palletizers, breakers, rotary tables, aspiration systems, etc.
All of their machines are handmade, like Swiss watches, and have an incredible design that all Italians love.
Large Russian manufacturers as the GOTEK group of companies have been using this equipment for a long time.
However, their equipment is piece by piece, so over time we felt the need for suppliers who would be engaged in the production of factory logistics equipment on a larger scale.
I mean, when you are a contractor on the construction of a large plant and you need to supply tens of thousands of square meters of conveyor belts, then a company with 30 employees cannot physically do such a large amount of work.
Therefore, our second supplier of transport systems was the South Korean company Woosung Autocon (WSA), which we loved at first sight.
When we started working with them, as an engineer, I was initially surprised that they themselves produce 100% of their parts.
The most important in transport systems are conveyors, which require rollers, shafts, frames, etc. So, for the first time in my life, I saw a company with a completely closed production cycle, from a to z. That is, they themselves produce everything they need, from rollers to finished systems.
Along with that, they use materials of the highest quality. I can vouch for each of their unit, part, sensor and bearing. I think that in 2-3 years this company will occupy a dominant position in the market: 80-90% of transport systems will be produced in South Korea.
Let me explain why: firstly, because this is a dollar market, which means an immediate 10‑15% cost advantage (at the same prices, you get a dollar advantage). Secondly, they only need 4 months to build your equipment, which you will never get from any other company.
By the way, for this reason we were unable to work with one Italian company of the same profile. When we had a project with Europack, all the drawings of the transport system belonged to this company. But when they said that they would be assembling the transport system for 12-14 months, we realized that we were not on our way (laughs).
And one moment. I think that in the next 3-4 years, there will be a global transition from conventional to robotic palletizing. WSA has had great success in this area; therefore, with the level of their techies, programmers, they can easily make a revolution.
A robot cannot get sick, it is not afraid of viruses. All you have to do for service is change the oil in the gearbox joints and the battery in the controller every 2-3 years.
The robots have self-diagnostics, so if something goes wrong, you don’t even need to call Korea, all problems are solved on the spot. At Europack, guys without special education learned how to program robots in six months, and now they are easily serviced…
Our next key partner is TCY, a corrugator and packaging line manufacturer from Taiwan. Last year they completely renewed their lineup with the QS (Quick Set) line.
These are machines with the possibility of non-stop order change, when unused sections can be lifted during operation to replace clichés. Then, when the previous order is completed, the sections that were in operation are raised, the raised ones are lowered, and a new order begins. In total, this takes no more than 2 minutes.
TCY currently produces four models in the line: QS-618 miniline (660×1800 mm), QS-850 (850×2200 mm — intermediate line between miniline and midline), QS-1025 (1000×2500 mm), similar to MHI Evol 100, and QS-1227 (1200×2750 mm). Color registration is +/- 0.3 mm.
The new machines are similar to Emba, Mitsubishi, BOBST and MWU lines. They have no geared drives, each shaft has a direct drive.
For the European market the drive manufacturer is Siemens, for the Asian market it’s Mitsubishi. You yourself can choose the required supplier.
The machines use the same components and have the same characteristics as any European manufacturer. Taiwan has always been renowned for the quality of its metal processing.
I was in Japan, Sweden and other European countries and saw how other companies produce their equipment, so I have something to compare them with.
In addition to processing lines, TCY continues to develop corrugators and has already acquired a new plant, planning to produce about 10 machines per year. Their lineup includes QSS-250, QSS-300 and QSS-350 depending on production speed (meters per minute). Their standard widths are 2200 mm and 2500 mm.
Currently, TCY is making a corrugator for the production of double-wall corrugated board for a Russian company from Yekaterinburg. Another innovative QSS-300 corrugator has been installed in Armenia.
In addition, we plan to install 10 TCY converting lines by the end of this year. Many Siberian companies are re-purchasing this Taiwanese equipment.”
“We have published a story about Bolotnoye.”
“They already have five TCY lines, the latest installation is the new QS-618 miniline with a production rate of 400 boxes/min. It has a fully servo-driven folding, a new counter-ejector, allowing the line to operate at 25 cycles per minute.
What does it mean? The old counter-ejectors on all machines, not just the TCY, were mainly designed for 20 boxes per pack. But with the rapid growth of online shopping, shoppers need 5, 10, or 15 boxes. To meet their requirements, you must operate your line at 150-200 boxes per minute instead of 400.
To avoid this, TCY has manufactured a special counter-ejector with 25 cycles per package. If you need 10 boxes per pack, you can run you line at 250 boxes/min, but before you would have worked at 15-18 cycles per minute, which is one and a half times slower.
Plus, the folding section in the TCY has become interactive. We have 8 points for additional customization; we can correct gaps, distortions and have complete control over the entire process.
In addition, Ken Hsiao (CEO of TCY) made an innovation so that the counter-ejector on a wide line can work with small boxes: he programmatically installed the function of double and triple boxes.
For example, if you cut a package on a rotary die cutter and make three cartons in a single revolution of the shaft, this triples the line speed. This requires a special program and a counter-ejector capable of working with small boxes. TCY currently installs this system on its own lines by default.
Then we created a No Crush feed — a feed without the take-in shafts. As you know, every 3-6 months, re-rubberizing these shafts costs about 10 thousand dollars, not counting the downtime. This is no longer necessary.
A new two-section slotter has also been developed: separate slotted and slotter sections. Now we can do scoring in two stages instead of three (only pre-scoring and scoring).
The knives can be shifted relative to each other.
Last year TCY successfully tested a new high-speed stacker for rotary die cutting lines. To be honest, I didn’t fully believe in this project.
This is because I once saw a Mitsubishi rotary die cutter in Japan with an Asahi high-speed stacker. It is the fastest rotary machine in the world with a productivity of 280-300 boxes per minute. You will not find such lines in Russia, Europe or the USA.
The way it works is completely different from traditional American rotary die cutters. The line works without a breaker, the parts are separated right in the stacker, automatically counted and dispensed as finished packs without trim. This line provides 100% waste removal! When I saw it, for me it was from the realm of fantasy.
But in 2019, Ken Hsiao installed, launched and tested several high-speed stackers working in their own special way. I hope that they will appear in Russia soon and that professionals will appreciate them.
It is curious, however, that despite the fact that we have represented Asahi in the CIS market for many years, until recently I did not even know that this company produces such high-speed stackers. This is because they were insanely expensive and worked at a tremendous speed — 300 boxes per minute.
For your information, the productivity limit of stackers for MWU rotary machines is 200.
And one more news from TCY. The company has developed an internet parcel machine that seals boxes from both sides — inside and outside. Nobody else has such know-how.
Our next long-term partner is Mosca, a well-known German manufacturer of automatic strapping machines. Their UATRI system is still a champion in speed, quality and reliability — kind of a benchmark for other manufacturers.
UATRI is indispensable for fast converting lines such as BOBST, Emba etc. That’s a fully servo-driven machine that works without pneumatics, hydraulics, and at phenomenal speeds.
Our traditional partner in glue kitchens is the Dutch SRP company, also the market leader.
In flatbed die cutters, as I said before, it’s Asahi.
Last year, three of their machines came to Russia: for Smurfit Kappa Moscow-SOYUZ (installed after Göpfert printing machine), Europack (Arkhbum-Voronezh) and Ilim-Gofra (installed after Celmacch printing machines). They can cut up to 6,000 sheets per hour.
However, in the near future all full-cycle converting machines such as minilines, midlines will fall away. There won’t be any at all.
In the next year or two, printing devices will be installed directly on the corrugators (development is currently being invested). Orders will be printed digitally and cut out by optical marks.
Corrugators have become so smart that it is already possible. Let’s have a look at BOBST DRO rotation die cutter of about $3 million worth. 40% of its price are printing sections and everything related to them. In the future, they all will be unnecessary: no anilox rolls, no pumps, no doctor blade systems…”
“Where will they place printing units?”
“For common printing, a digital pre-print section may be installed next to the reel, immediately on the corrugator. Certainly, it won’t be able to work at 400 m/min, but let me tell you about another great technology.
Several times me and my colleagues from Moscow, Arkhangelsk, Naberezhnye Chelny have visited Hinojosa Packaging SL (Spain). This is the area of the future, they only produce high class packaging.
Their plant operates one super-powerful corrugator and only two printing machines: one digital and one HBL (High Board Line). All orders up to 2,000 pcs they print on the digital machine, over 2,000 pcs — on HBL.
HBL is a modern quality analogue of an offset press. There are three companies operating in this segment: Göpfert, a pioneer in this market, BOBST and Celmacch (a great Italian company that we also represent). As mentioned above, today two Celmacch machines have been launched in Russia, and one more is under construction in Italy for another Russian customer.
Celmacch is a high-end printing press at an affordable price. A line with four printing units costs about 1,200,000 euros. The machine can work non-stop with a quick order change.
My GOTEK fellows showed me the packaging production system that I had already seen at Hinojosa. Currently, about eight technological lines are operating at their enterprise. But they threw away the old printing units, and now each of their machines performs a minimum of operations, but very quickly, and it takes only one minute to change the order on these lines.
When you have printing units, you need to rinse the mesh, prepare the cliché, wipe it down, stick it on, fit it. If they are not there, then the performance can be doubled without problems.
What is the concept of the future corrugated packaging plant? — Simple printing on packaging is done directly on the corrugator, and more complex — on the HBL line, which can provide any quality currently available on Earth.
On HBL, you can choose any anilox rolls — 600, 1000, 200, 100. You set the order, the lineature is stored in memory, and the machine itself, like a revolver, sets the desired anilox roll, and you can print on offset, brown, white carton in automatic mode…
Such a printing center is installed as a single one for the entire plant and ensures high-quality printing on any sheets coming out of the corrugator.
Today, the modern HBL machine can print at a speed of 10,000 sheets per hour. The Asahi flatbed die cutter operates at an average speed of 5,000 sheets per hour, which means one HBL can feed two flatbed die cutters.
About our big projects. We are currently executing a dozen large contracts worth from 2 to 5 million euros in Ukraine, Siberia, the Urals, for the GOTEK and Ilim groups.
Despite the coronavirus, I continue to get up at 6.30 am because the number of orders is not decreasing. Our suppliers did not stop working for a day either. There is not a single Gofro Technologies installer in St. Petersburg now — each one is at launches all over the country.
For example, we signed a contract for the supply of a high-speed Fosber corrugator for Kazakhstan (Kazpoligraf company), which will be installed by the end of 2020. It happened in the midst of the coronavirus.
At the time, our company trained its own engineers, technicians and established remote access to the installed equipment. Thus, today we can install and configure almost any equipment, except for Fosber, without the involvement of foreign specialists.
Nowadays, many look at what is happening pessimistically, although, in my opinion, the time has come for new opportunities.
Amazon owner Jeff Bezos is the richest man again because people now buy everything online. Every three days, I personally throw out a small mountain of corrugated packaging. And that gives me a lot of confidence in the future (laughs).”
“Alexander, a lot of news came from your PR service about large projects of your company that have a noticeable impact on the market. They are interesting and important to our clients.”
“Let me walk you through them. The first project is for Karton+ company near St. Petersburg. We have installed and launched a fully computerized servo-driven TCY 5PA line with four bottom print sections, top folding and top rotary section, as well as Mosca MCB2 strapping machine.
Karton+ are my old friends, very smart people who manage to masterfully conduct business among big sharks. I mentally applaud them all the time. They have several types of packaging that they invented and patented themselves.
The head of production of this company came from Smurfit Kappa, and I am very glad that such a perfect line fell into his hands.
Bolotninskaya Gofrotara signed a contract for another TCY line. This time it is a new folder gluer to upgrade their old inline — a new tail for the old machine.
A five-layer 2500 mm TCY QSS-300 corrugator + CHC glue kitchen + Techgene (Taiwan) baling press began operating at the Armenian Grand Master plant.
At Europack (Arkhbum-Voronezh) we launched Celmacch EVO 2100 printing line + Asahi 2100 flatbed die cutter + WSA transport system.
We supplied two TCY inlines to KartonSnab and Prostor N enterprises in Nizhny Novgorod: TCY 9PA-FGT miniline and TCY 6PA midline.
These two companies are also our long-time partners, whom we once supplied Chinese equipment. Now they have grown enough to buy Taiwanese machines.
The Novosibirsk PM, Igor Didenko, has acquired two TCY converting lines: 6PAB-UFGT (1200×2750 mm, 250 boxes/min) and 9PAN-FGT (660×1800 mm, 400 boxes/min).
And Prominvest company (Yekaterinburg), which has been working on TCY equipment for 10 years, has purchased a five-layer TCY QSS corrugator. If TCY were bad equipment, the company would not have the money to build a new plant (laughs).
We are also designing a new Arkhbum plant in Ulyanovsk, and Asahi is manufacturing two flatbed die cutters for our customers in Siberia.
Recently, we have installed Asahi flatbed die cutter in Ussuriysk. Their next step is to get the second TCY corrugator.
Also we have a Mosca packaging lines project with SFT Group. They have already used this equipment and were very pleased with it.”
“Thanks for the big picture, Alexander, now we can understand your scale. It was nice to chat!»
“Thank you too.”
The first interview about GT Group with the head of the holding Mikhail Alyabin is here.