The year 2020 was unprecedented for everyone. The world was thrust into an unknown territory of a pandemic and masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing. For many - normal schedules were turned upside down – homeschooling children virtually, working at home, not traveling or taking vacations, not eating out at restaurants or attending movies or concerts.
Most industries were also impacted by COVID. Many were impacted negatively, while some – like flexible packaging, tissue converting and nonwovens – saw record-level increases as consumer buying habits made a dramatic shift.
How we conducted business also changed significantly. Virtual meetings became the new normal. Companies learned to pivot as they found creative ways to continue to provide products, service and support. At PCMC, our Accelerate suite of products continues to be instrumental in continuing to provide troubleshooting, audits of machines, service and installation to customers during the ongoing pandemic. PCMC’s team of 91 global technicians uses Accelerate in a variety of ways to help customers achieve their production goals and minimize downtime during the pandemic.
During 2020 when certain aspects of life remained at a standstill, we moved forward with several innovations in printing and bag converting that were launched to the market. The Hudson-Sharp Apollo wicketer, which officially launched in Europe in October 2019 at the K2019 show, was launched globally. In just a year's time we’ve sold over 28 high-speed Apollo wicketers. Loaded with Industry 4.0 smart features, the Apollo sets the new standard for flexibility, speed and scrap rates.
Hudson-Sharp launched the new Ares 400-SUP, which features a compact footprint and quick changeovers. It runs recycle ready PE, laminated films, paper, and bio-films with a low scrap rate while maintaining production speeds. Associated Labels and Packaging was the first customer to have an Ares 400-SUP installed, which has allowed them to expand their offering of recyclable pouches.
In early 2020, PCMC launched the Meridian Elite laser anilox cleaner. Enhancements include a new patented laser design, automatic roll diameter sensing, cloud-based roll reporting system, and a third party certified dual state filtration with internal traversing vacuum system. The Meridian Elite was awarded with two monumental industry awards – the 2020 FTA Technical Innovation Award and the 2020 Label Industry Global Award.
PCMC designed and launched a new innovative center surface rewinder that handles tough-to-run materials like cling film, stretch PVC, extensible substrates and light gauge shrink films with ease. Its lack of turreting in roll-to-roll splice eliminates waste from unstable materials. The new rewinder is available on our Fusion C product line.
PCMC also launched Ion, a flexible inkjet printing system available for many different platforms including labels, folding cartons, wide web packaging and other specialty printing markets. Powered by Memjet’s drop on demand thermal inkjet technology, its industry-leading 1600x1585 dpi native resolution is one of the highest in the print industry and can print in different print modes pushing print speeds up to 668 ft/min.
Without question, 2020 proved to be a year like no other. COVID-19 helped reinforce just how essential manufacturers, printers, and converters are in meeting basic needs. As we reflect back on this year, we are thankful that our innovations and equipment played a small part in our customers’ ability to continue to provide necessities to people when they needed them most.