Revival in closures

Fabio Bove is expanding an easy-open end factory in Italy.

1 August 2009

From a family with years in the canmaking business, Fabio Bove is expanding aneasy-openendfactory in Italy. John Nutting reports une was a significant month for Easytech Closures Solutions, a manufacturer of easy-open food ends located in southern Italy that is planning to compete with the leading players. It marked the first operation of a new line for making 99mm ends, a move that disconnected the plant from its past.

What was originally the ASA Mediterranea plant at Conversano in the province of Bari had been set up by the ASA group as part of an expansion plan that would cover a wide range of metal packaging products. But at the end of 2006 the San Marino- based Amati family which owned it decided to concentrate in the production of general line and food cans. Closures manufacturing group Tecnocap SpA, based near Naples, was approached and on its behalf Fabio Bove, whose family has been in the canmaking business since the 1950s, was engaged to manage the acquisition. By the beginning of 2007 a deal had been done and production started with the existing manufacturing lines for 73mm and 84mm full aperture easy-open food ends. “I can’t say waht the deal was, but the priority was to eassure customers about the reliability of this new company structure” says Bove, 39, who mostly worked in can coatings with PPG before joining Tecnocap. “And we have been helped in this by the fact that ASA Mediterranea had a very good reputation for quality. “Our main strenght is the fact that we don’t have cans care about since we are producers of only easy-open ends and therefore all our production is to satisfy our customer’s demand at any time.” Since then Tecnocap invested in the 7,500sqm plant with addistions to the lines to enable the production of 52.4mm and 65mm ends. Most of the end lines – including shell presses, conversion presses and post repair systems – are based around FMI equipment. “But all of the machines have been customized by our technical staff, lead by our technical manager,” says Bove. And from June a new line using a Min- ster press started production of 99 mm ends, which like the smaller diameters are made from double-reduced and T67 grade steel. Another key consern for Bove when the plant was acquired was to convince existing customers that the new operation would be as reliable in its deliveries as before. He needn’t have worried. “Customers knew that technical staff were the same,” he says, “and only the owners and the name changed. So we didn’t need to go through new approval steps. “Customers are starting to appreciate our approach; they are recognizing our presence in the market, and are main- taining volume growth. We estimate that our sales will be up by 20 percent in 2008.” End opening performance standards such as pop and tear forces influenced by panel design are also a key issue. “This is very specific,” says Bove. “I woul say that one of our main strenghts on the technical side is that the tab is very flexible and stays perfectly on the panel after the ster- ilization. “ We have never experienced so far any problems with ring hook. We have recently made some modifications on the pre-pop in order to reduce drastically the wrong overture, which is the case when the user does not open the can properly.” Quality control is helped by the use of the latest vision systems. “We have recently implemented a camera control area with the installation and testing of a vision system.” Bove says he is conscious to keep costs low at every level, even when travelling to sales meetings. “We try to compete by keeping the staff always at the right level and with multifunctional roles, reducing spoilage by using only prime canstock, maintaining constant in production, not having a huge internal workshop.” Next step is to start making ends for export. “ We are of course well known in the Italian market,” says Bove, who doesn’t want to reveal who his customers are right now, “ and we expect to grow in Nothern and Eastern Europe and the Americas. For this purpose we have rein- forced our sales and marketing team.” But Bove is not unaware that there could be an economic downturn in Europe. “We are conscious to find our- selves in a very tough moment for metal packaging, especially in Europe, because the strenght of the euro against the US dollar on one side and the arrival of Chi- nese and Indian competitors in Europe. We expect 2009 to be a key year for all of us. “But with professionalism, passion and perfectionism, along with flexibility, dynamism and quick decision, we have the ingredients to compete with the big players in this field.”

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