- February 01, 2004, Stanley Sacharow, Contributing Editor
G&A Printers carves outs its niche by specializing in the needs of the pharmaceutical industry.
There are not too many flex-pack converters nationwide that can supply just one roll of printed stock to a customer and still be commercially viable. Yet pharmaceutical packaging often requires small volumes that meet stringent quality and regulatory demands. UK-based G&A Printers — acquired in 2001 by the Austrian converting group, Constantia — was founded specifically to supply pharma flex-packs in the volumes needed by the industry: one roll or hundreds of rolls.
Founded by Graham and Anne Wildish in 1982, the company reportedly supplies more flex-pack for pharma use than any other flex-pack converter in the UK. The 54,000-sq-ft plant with about 100 employees is located in Kent, about one hour from London. The company specializes in printing aluminum foil for blister lidding applications; a new building was constructed in 1995 to house a specially designed clean facility.
Constantia's purchase of G&A printers offers limitless global possibilities; the firm is now part of Constantia's $650 million flexible operation, consisting of Teich Austria, Hayer-Patz Austria, and Nusser Germany.
Kevin J. Grimes, business development director, told Paper, Film & Foil CONVERTER that “our growth has always been substantial since our sole purpose is to satisfy an often-unfilled niche in the flexible converting marketplace.”
Complex Designs, Short Runs
Touring the spotlessly clean plant with Ian Jackson, operations director and a pharmacist by training, revealed exactly how the company operates. Much of foil lidding material for blister packaging is gravure printed. G&A maintains seven gravure presses. Two five-color BHS presses are 800 mm wide, with turning bar capacity for printing on both sides. There are also two Rotograf presses (six-color and three-color) capable of running 600-mm printing. Three two-color Rotograf presses (100 mm wide) complete the rotogravure capacity.
In addition to the seven rotogravure presses, two BHS flexo presses (one-color and two-color) are available for narrow width jobs. Coating and lamination is done on one BHS machine that is used for items such as coating blister lidding foil, laminating Aclar base film, and various film/foil/film composites.
Specializing in “difficult to print” hard temper foil lidding material, G&A obtains base aluminum either from sister company Teich or outside vendors as specified by the pharma manufacturer. Constructions printed or laminated include foil/polyethylene (PE) for strip packages, paper/foil/PE or PET/Aluminum/PE for pharma pouchstock, “Cold Form” base web either of PureAlu (Teich) or a conventional laminate, and a variety of Aclar laminates.
G&A is also an appointed distributor for Perlen Converting (Switzerland) for its polyvinyl chloride (PVC)/polyvinylidene chloride and PVC base webs.
The entire facility is ISO-9002 approved. In addition, the UK Inst. of Quality Assurance maintains a “Pharmaceutical Suppliers Code of Practice.” G&A Printers was accredited in 1991 — the first flex-pack converter to be awarded full recognition. The firm also is working toward PS9000 accreditation.
More than 80% of all production is shipped to domestic markets with the remaining 20% shipped to Australia, South America, North America, and other European nations.
The future looks bright for G&A. Grimes noted, “There now appears to be a trend toward more complex designs and even shorter run lengths because each individual European state is mandating its own language.” It seems as though the merge into the large Constantia pharma group, coupled with increasing European diversity, has made the marketplace even larger for small specialty converters such as G&A Printers, and with increasing worldwide blister usage, how this shapes up is anybody's guess!
BHS Printing Machinery—PFFC-ASAP 310. bhs-print.de
Rotograf—PFFC-ASAP 311. rotograf.it
Aclar Film—PFFC-ASAP 312. aclar.com
Stanley Sacharow has been in the flexible packaging industry for more than 35 years. His company, The Packaging Group, is an organizer of targeted conferences and a consultant to the international packaging/converting industry. He is also the author of PFFC's “Package Converting” column. Contact him at 732/636-0885; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.