Interview with CEO of Siberian GofroMaster Group
“Igor, recently you have launched several new production lines at the Novosibirsk Paper Mill (NKBK)…”
“Three months ago we launched the Asahi AP‑165EII flatbed diecutter, and it is already loaded with orders by about 30%. The package of orders is growing dynamically, we make new dies and immediately launch them into production.
“In February, we launched the TCY 9PA-FGT miniline with three printing sections, slotter, rotor, and folding gluer. It is an excellent machine that consistently produces the declared 350-400 boxes per minute, depending on the format and complexity of the box.
“Currently we are mounting TCY 6PAB-UFGT transline. The package consists of three sections of bottom printing, slotter, rotor, and upward folder. All lines have been supplied by the St. Petersburg GT Group.
“As a result, we already have sufficient capacity to manufacture RSCs:
1. TCY 9PA-FGT with a format of 660×1800 mm.
2. BOBST FFG 8.20 DISCOVERY — 800×2180 mm.
3. Emba 245 QS Ultima (launch scheduled in August 2021) — 1050×2450 mm.
4. TCY 6PAB-UFGT — the largest format — 1200×3000 mm.
“In May, we will also launch the third LMC-1625 rotary die cutting line, followed by a vacuum stacker, the second from the Emmepi Group.
“Thus, by the end of the year, our capacity will make over 18 mil sq. m a month. Today NKBK is the undisputed leader of the corrugated board industry from the Urals to the Far East!”
“Do you continue to accelerate the corrugator?”
“Now we are making foundations for the second single facer to produce double wall corrugated cardboard. After the May holidays, we will finish the installation, launch the line and start producing.
“What benefits will it give to us? The replacement of the first single facer’s cassettes is done quite quickly, though takes around 40 minutes anyway (only the cassette change takes some 20 minutes).
“By installing the second one, we will completely eliminate stops, the changes from profile to profile will occur on the fly. Also, in addition to the BB, BC, BE profiles, we will be able to produce EE, and in the future EF.”
“Is the Asahi diecutter mounted in line or separately?”
“It goes with a breaker and a stacker. It produces all orders without printing, for example, trays for sour cream, yoghurts. We print blanks on a separate three-color printing machine.
“In front of Asahi we have left some room. If we completely load the press with orders without printing, then this room will be taken by an auto feeder, if not, then within a year we will buy a second flatbed diecutter, and then one printing machine will print for two diecutters.
“In our region, there is no experience of working with flatbeds — we need to learn a little more about them. Perhaps our next line will be BOBST EXPERTCUT 1.6.”
“Have you reached your goal or are there any more plans? As far as I understand, the enterprise you wanted has practically been created.”
“15, let alone 18 mil sq. m, still have to be sold! To produce is easier. In Siberia, everyone dreams of producing at least 3 mil, and only two companies strive for 8-9 mil sq. m a month. Well, you know them (laughs).
“Our plan for April is 10.5 mil sq. m, while we go beyond the schedule! (No one has ever released this much in Siberia!). I am sure that in the fall we will overcome the psychological barrier of 12 mil sq. m a month.”
“Are there any problems with raw materials?”
“Yes. Over the past four months, rolls and waste paper have been rising in price by 10‑20% a month. Under these conditions, consumers are nervous. When prices rise, they run around the market, looking for where it is temporarily cheaper.
“In general, the market is, if not in a perfect storm, then in a rather turbulent state associated with rising prices and a shortage of raw materials.
“We continue to grow monthly due to the fact that: a) we have our own high-quality raw materials; b) we are the best in technology, quality, service, reliability, range of products, economics, pricing and financial capabilities of production in Siberia.”
Slowly, but confidently, we are taking away the market share from competitors!
“We turn our clients into our faith very carefully: an acquaintance — an excursion to our production site (wow effect from what they see) — the realization that there can be no better partner in Siberia — a contract — a trial batch — a constant client!
“Most of the corrugated board manufacturers in Siberia are now experiencing interruptions in the supply of raw materials. First, they rise in price every two weeks. Some mills raise prices weekly! And no one confirms the volumes. Can you imagine how unstable everything is?
“And we have our own paper machine, increasing its production on a monthly basis. We absolutely calmly insure ourselves for raw materials. That’s it.”
“How much does the paper machine produce?”
“In March 2021, we have produced 1,600 tons of paper and cardboard.
“If you remember, we received the first test roll at the end of May 2020. The commissioning work was completed in October 2020, and since then we have been growing every month.
“Since it’s giving you such confidence, then there was a point…”
“Our own PM means reliability, guaranteed quality of corrugated board and packaging; this is the recycling of production wastes! When we have two factories working on both sides of the wall and all the waste goes into the pulper — it’s great! Of course it inspires confidence!
“If we compare pros and cons, why so many companies say that they are not as daring as you? Is it a headache or is it really that smooth?”
“Nothing just happens. There is a certain level of competence, and that is why the only vertically integrated plant in Siberia is JSC Novosibirsk PM.
“There are about 35 corrugated board manufactures in Siberia. Two of them are large, but none has a modern cardboard and paper mill at once! And five paper mills have no corrugated board production facilities!
“Why we have a paper mill, you perfectly understand.
“Firstly, it was not possible to agree on the purchase or merger with competitors in corrugated board factories.
“Secondly, it was not possible to buy a whole or a share in a paper mill.
“Thirdly, we already had four production facilities: film extrusion, flexible polymer packaging, bags and corrugated cardboard.
“Of course, the construction and launch of a paper machine was a difficult and responsible challenge. We spent 2.5 years on solving this problem, but the success opened up completely new horizons for us!
“Your paper machine follows the format of a corrugator, is that correct, shouldn’t you have made it wider?”
“PM is 2450 mm and corrugator is 2450 mm as well.
“Some people say (as if out of envy) that our machine is small (laughs). We have enough for now! Today I understand that the next machine will be wider — 5000 or 4900 mm. But a spoon for dinner is always good! Today we have a paper mill, and others continue to dream about it!
“They said that we were joking when we attracted investments, that we were lying when we installed equipment. They said that we would never start, that we had no natural gas, water, electricity and waste paper! When the first paper and cardboard appeared — that we were heavily credited and soon would go bankrupt! Let them talk, and we will work!… The dogs bark, the caravan goes!
“Look at the photo (below), on the hood of the machine there is a plate PM #1… we already have a project for PM #2 with a capacity of 120 thousand tons per year.
“If Management Company Siberian Papermaker considers that another machine is needed in the region, if it is a project that will benefit many, and not just a mindless competition and work for the sake of work, then there will definitely be a continuation!”
“Last month I held the first introductory meeting of the Siberian League of Waste Paper Recyclers or MC Siberian Papermaker, we are still choosing the name.
“At the meeting, there were three enterprises that produce over 65% of products on our regional market from recycled raw materials: Abakan Cardboard and Paper Mill LLC (Vladimir Skomorokha), Kuzbass SCARABEY LLC (Dmitry Razuvaev) and Novosibirsk Cardboard and Paper Mill JSC (Igor Didenko).
“We agreed not just to be friends, but to work together. To create an organization fully responsible for the purchase of waste paper and the sale of roll materials.
“Some players in the region have been behaving inadequately recently, showing disrespect for raw material suppliers: they buy products from them, but send the waste paper out of the region. We decided to stop it!
“Our enterprises recycle waste paper every day, regardless of the market situation, it is us who determine how our market will work today and tomorrow, and no one, except us, will make it civilized.
“The HQ of our organization will be located in Novosibirsk. Now we are thinking about the form of it: a non-profit or a commercial organization.
“We are considering specialists who will improve the collection and logistics market for waste paper and roll materials. The vacancy of the director is open. Most likely, these will be employees of our own companies.”
“Did I understand correctly that you are creating a trading house, which will be the only intermediary for all enterprises for the purchase of waste paper?”
“We are not talking about this now, but perhaps we will come to this later. On the agenda are general supply, training, technological issues. A lot can be done without legal association and entering into each other’s capital.
“For example, to manage volumes and range of products, to focus each enterprise on what it does better, with better quality and cheaper than others. Simply put, this may be cardboard for one plant, paper for other, the same in terms of density and formats!
“Together we can make any format, so we plan to coordinate production programs. And most importantly, to eliminate cross-supplies of waste paper and rolls in the region, thereby reducing costs and increasing the overall financial result.”
“You create the Сoncern and in the future you may provide shares to invest them in a common enterprise, is it right?”
“Well, not if I have anything to say about it.”
“What is your total volume of production?”
“Our factory — 3,500 tons per month, Abakan — 3,500 tons, Scarabey — 2,500 tons. If all this is added…”
“…then you will reach 100-120 thousand tons per year.”
“More than 100 thousand — even this year, next year — that’s for sure. And with the launch of the new machine in Kemerovo, there will be about 180 thousand tons.”
“There is a special talk with NKBK — you have both raw materials and processing. Therefore, all come to you.”
“That is why we met, I am the initiator. GofroMaster and NKBK have a largest experience: we have both paper machine and corrugator, so we understand the situation from both sides. After all, usually, when it is easy for corrugated plants, it is hard for producers of paper, and vice versa.
“We are working to ensure that the industry in Siberia develops in a civilized and comprehensive manner, and not so that some ask for a 180-day delay in payments, while others run around with a prepayment and cannot buy the rolls that grow in price weekly!”
“Very interesting, this is news, well done! God bless your endeavors.”
“Last spring, we signed a contract with the Novosibirsk Paper Mill for the supply of two TCY high-speed converting lines and an Asahi AP-165EII automatic flatbed diecutter,” says Alexander Mangushev, General Director Gofro Technologies (GT Group, St. Petersburg).
“Two machines have already been launched, the customer is very pleased with their work, the installation of the third line will be completed this month.
“The Asahi AP-165EII is designed for the production of packaging with complex die-cutting, including microflute.
“The Lap Feeder vacuum belt feeding system aligns the workpieces before picking them up and makes it possible to work with warped corrugated board. The enlarged format of the equipment allows for the production of large-format packaging from blanks up to 1200×1650 mm in size.
“The complete set of the diecutter also includes a lifting hydraulic table to facilitate the feeding of workpieces, a section for diecutting and deflashing, a section for removing the leading edge and unloading finished products.
“The press is equipped with an operator platform and a central computer with Touch Screen.
“Working capacity of the automatic high-speed line TCY 9PA-FGT — 400 blanks/min. Its task is to manufacture mass standard orders and small and medium-sized boxes.
“Miniline is equipped with a Sun section for automatic vacuum-roller feeding of workpieces with vacuum Cincinnati Fans (USA), three sections for flexographic printing with Top Print closed chamber systems and Vacuum Transfer workpiece support.
“Also, the features of the production line include an eight-shaft slotting-scoring section with scoring and pre-scoring shafts, a rotary diecutting section with a device for grooving polyurethane bandages and an equalizer for aligning linear velocities (equipped with a separate Leroy Somer high-precision drive).
“Die and bandage shaft equalizer helps extend life of bandage rings and improve die cutting quality.
“The folder-gluer and counter-ejector of the latest generation with Top Loading are designed on the basis of MHI (Japan) servo drives, which provides high fault tolerance and stable operation at high speeds.
“The upper formation of the pack excludes the hooking of the blanks against each other while maintaining the geometry of the boxes and the stack.
“The 6PAB-UFGT transline is equipped with a Smart Tech computerized control system and has a productivity of 250 blanks/min.
“The machine has three Bottom Print units, an Up Folding and a Top Loading counter ejector.
“Bottom printing and top folding units allow you to fully unleash the potential of the line and expand the range of manufactured products (including boxes with truncated valves, ventilation holes, complex configuration), as well as to make the work with the rotary die cutting section as comfortable as possible.
“More than 20 Russian enterprises are already operating such equipment, including Arkhbum-Voronezh, Bolotninskaya Gofrotara, Karavaevo, Remos-Alpha, etc.”
By Igor Tkalenko, gofro.expert