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Paolo Ocleppo
Paolo Ocleppo
Rotary Cutting Segment Manager

Interview with Paolo Ocleppo

APAC is a growing market for hygiene products

Paolo Ocleppo, Rotary Cutting Segment manager, Sandvik Hyperion discusses the industry for hygiene products with technicaltextile.net

TT: Which are the core areas you work in technical textiles and nonwovens, and what is the growth potential in each niche?

Sandvik Hyperion is a global company specialised in hard and super-hard applied materials. It belongs to the Sandvik Group, a high-technology industrial company with 47,000 employees around the world and representation in 130 countries. Within the technical textiles and nonwovens market, Sandvik Hyperion is a worldwide leader for rotary cutting solutions, with a focus on the hygiene market including babycare, femcare and adultcare. The company offers high-tech products and services for rotary die-cutting systems. The cutting unit is a critical component of a converting line. Its reliability and lifetime can heavily influence the total productivity output. Sandvik Hyperion works closely with customers and has the ability to offer a solution throughout the total product lifecycle, which includes full design and engineering capabilities, manufacturing, validation tests, operators and advanced engineering training, assistance at start-ups, troubleshooting, re-sharpening, maintenance and carbide recycling. Sandvik cutting solutions are designed to ensure high and reliable performance, with easy use and handling. This translates directly into customer savings through excellent production efficiency, optimisation of spare part quantities and a reduction of machine downtime and maintenance needs.

TT: What are the latest trends in the field of rotary cutting across the nonwoven and hygiene value chain that you cater to?

From a technological point of view, we experience the use of new and, in general, thinner and thinner raw materials. This is a challenge for machine makers because raw material processing is more complex. It's also a challenge from a cutting point of view, because it's more difficult to ensure a stable, reliable and lasting cut. Sandvik's internal cutting tests aim to determine the cutting properties of each specific raw material coupled with high precision cutting units. Sandvik Hyperion has the ability to ensure the highest cutting performance, whatever raw material is used. Another typical trend is the hygiene product construction and profile. The multi-piece design for baby and adult diapers and new shapes arising for femcare products require a deep understanding of the cutting function in order to propose the most suitable solution to customer needs. That's why Sandvik Hyperion has a full team of engineers who provide customers with assistance, advice and innovation to surpass customers' expectations. Another trend that we experience is the need to be a solution provider. Machine makers and hygiene product manufacturers need to rely on the company to manage the project from an early stage till its lifecycle ends. For this reason, manufacturing of a good product is not enough any longer. The value brought by services around the cutting function translates directly into customer savings, whose yearly impact can be estimated to several thousands of dollars, and they are much higher than the initial investment required. This includes engineering to define the most suitable cutting solution, assistance at the start-up and operators' training, the follow-up and troubleshooting visits. But it also refers to maintenance of units, re-sharpening the cutters, regrinding the anvils and recycling obsolete carbide cutters. Last but not least, it also includes customer service support in terms of logistics, customs and documentation.

TT: What is the most revolutionary work by Sandvik in the field of nonwovens and hygiene in the past years that have impacted the industry?

Sandvik has always been innovative, looking for market driven solutions which could increase customer productivity. One of the historical innovations has been the common edge concept, ie having two subsequent profiles without any gap between them during the cut, instead of using the typical 5 mm gap. This has contributed to generate huge savings for hygiene producers, thanks to the several km of raw material saved during the manufacturing of hygiene products. Another more recent revolutionary solution has been the sleeve concept, the PBA and the tuned mass damper. The first, mainly suitable for femcare or for baby front ear applications, is a unique and patented technology using a cutter without any steel shaft, which allows customers having a quick format change, optimising the need for spare part components as well as initial investment. The PBA (Positive Bending Anvil) is also a patented solution, mainly suitable for adultcare diapers and babycare training pants, allowing customers to optimise the size and weight of the cutting unit and ensure long lasting performance through a precise control of the cutting interference. The tuned mass damper is a passive dampening system working at a pre-set frequency range which dampens the vibrations of moving parts of a cutting unit, maximising their lifetime. This concept is an example of cross-company development, since it has been designed in partnership with Teeness, another company of the Sandvik Group. New and revolutionary solutions are still under development and ready to be launched in the coming years.

TT: Which are your biggest markets, and where does Asia feature in your growth strategy? Which are the countries looking for more technical textiles?

Sandvik Hyperion started offering rotary cutting solutions to the hygiene market at the end of eighties. Historically, our main market has been Europe, but it has quickly extended to the Americas and APAC regions. Global presence ensured through local sales offices and maintenance centres allow our company to be a worldwide leader today for the rotary cutting systems. Adultcare is driving growth in the mature markets, while demographic and economic factors are the main drivers in emerging and developing countries. Specifically for Asia, the most active markets for us today are Japan and China. However, our business in south-east Asia and in India is also expanding very fast. Those regions represent for sure one of our key points in our growth strategy.

TT: How has your business grown in the last two years, and what is your target growth for the next two years?

Our business has steadily increased at a pace higher than that of the hygiene market. This is due to the healthy growth of the hygiene market coupled with the technology offered by Sandvik Hyperion. Faster and more productive converting lines need reliable, efficient and lasting performance-cutting solutions which is exactly what Sandvik Hyperion offers.

TT: What are the qualities that distinguish Sandvik's rotary cutting products from those of your competitors?

Historically, Sandvik has built its brand reputation on cemented carbide material, also known as Tungsten carbide or Wolfram carbide, which is the core of our technology for rotary cutters. Cemented carbide manufacturing is a powder metallurgy process, which requires deep knowledge and understanding, both from a metallurgical point of view and from a grinding one. Sandvik cemented carbide powder and the fully-integrated manufacturing, from powder to the fully finished product, are certainly one of our distinguishing factors in the market. Good material is essential, but not enough. For several years, Sandvik is striving to make a difference by being a solution provider for the customer. This implies a deep understanding of the cutting function, not limited to the cutting unit itself, but also to the process before and after the cut. For this reason, Sandvik has developed a complete expertise on how to ensure a stable and reliable cut, supported by engineering knowledge (finite element structural analysis, vibration analysis, optimisation of cutting profiles, raw material cutting tests, vacuum and porosity expertise etc) and on-field assistance that include training, start-up, troubleshooting and follow-up. The ultimate goal is to always generate the highest savings for the customer.

TT: What are the major challenges faced by those in this business globally?

From a business point of view, remaining focused on the hygiene market, we assist the evolution of the adultcare segment in the mature markets and the fast-increasing product penetration of baby diapers and sanitary napkins in the emerging ones. One of the challenges for a global player is to be able to adapt its offer to best serve customers with different needs, different technology, different purchasing behaviours and different experiences. Sandvik is doing this through the proposal of different products and services depending on customer requirements. In terms of technology, we assist with higher speeds, more difficult raw materials to cut, innovative manufacturing processes, new cutting profiles which all require rotary cutting unit suppliers to adapt and provide reliable cutting solutions at new technological conditions. As an example, the speed of a babycare machine has doubled in 10 years. The challenge for a rotary die cutting supplier today would be to ensure a similar time between maintenance as 10 years ago with even better efficiency.

TT: What percentage of profits do you earmark for R&D annually?

Sandvik Hyperion is continuously investing in R&D with at least five per cent of its sales dedicated to new product developments.

TT: How do you rate the markets in Europe, USA, Asia-Pacific and other emerging economies for technical textile machinery?

Our focus being the hygiene market, we clearly see APAC as a growing market, mainly driven by demographic and socio-economic factors. Although Japan sees a stable decreasing consumption of babycare and femcare products, it remains a very interesting market, thanks to adultcare development and product innovation. In EMEA, the main growing area is represented by Eastern Europe, Russia, Middle East and Africa, where better economic conditions help hygiene product penetration. Investment in Western Europe has been slowing down over the last years, except for adultcare. Americas are also experiencing two different situations. Latin America is a growing market, thanks to higher product penetration, despite a suffering economy in some regions. North America is definitively a mature market, with an aging population favourable to the development of adultcare products. However in this region, we see a higher share of branded products, different from Western Europe, where private labels are more powerful. This is driving more innovation in the market, even in saturated segments like babycare and femcare. All in all, the present growth seems to be driven by adultcare in mature markets and by babycare and femcare in emerging ones. The future growth will, for sure, be driven by current developing countries like India, SEA and some African countries.

TT: What are your views on sustainability and how can sustainability be integrated?

At Sandvik, we are serious about our efforts to continually reduce negative impacts on the environment. One way we are making a difference is by offering the Carbide Recycling Program to our customers. We offer customers the purchasing of used cemented carbide tools to be chemically recycled and converted into production raw materials for future products. By recycling, customers help Sandvik to practice true sustainability, consume less energy and reduce carbon footprints. The use of recycled material also minimises the mining activity of non-renewable resources, mainly tungsten ore. Sandvik maintains full control over the comprehensive recycling process, which adheres to Sandvik's environmental policy and is certified in accordance with ISO standards. Customers are guaranteed that this recycling process produces pure raw materials that is of equal quality to mined ore materials without loss in quality. The majority of our customers include sustainability and environmental performance in their corporate strategy. Sandvik Carbide Recycling Program makes it easy for customers to improve their environmental performance and stewardship. Copyright © 2014 Sandvik Group - All rights reserved

Published on: 18/05/2015

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of technicaltextile.net.


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