On October 3rd, Sofidel - one of the world's leading groups in the production of toilet and household paper - inaugurated a new integrated plant in Circleville, Ohio (USA). Owned by the Stefani and Lazzareschi families, the company is known throughout Italy, particularly for its Regina brand. Elettric80 and BEMA are proud to be a part of this project.
The inauguration marks a milestone in the company's development and growth strategy for the United States, where Sofidel has been operating since 2012 and today is present in seven states (Nevada, Florida, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Ohio and Pennsylvania).
Representing the company's first greenfield investment in America, the site is built on a 280-acre parcel. The plant's location offers an abundance of accessible underground water, as well as reliable suppliers utilities (natural gas and electricity). The site is in close proximity to a logistic location of strategic importance for distribution operators, with intermodal systems, an airport and several towns and cities within a few hundred miles. The facility inaugurated today in Circleville is Sofidel's largest, most modern and sustainable plant to date. The site has required total investments for around USD 400 million, and will employ approximately 700 people once running at full capacity.
At the grand opening, the Chairman of Sofidel, Emi Stefani and the CEO, Luigi Lazzareschi, were joined by Brian Lenihan, acting executive director of SelectUSA, and Kenny McDonald, president and chief economic officer for Columbus 2020. Sofidel clients and suppliers, federal, state and local officials, and other stakeholders also attended the event. The event also offered new opportunities to forge closer links with the US market, and between Italian and American cultures and traditions.
The Circleville production site is an integrated facility, that is to say, a factory that incorporates both the paper mill (where pulp is transformed into paper) and the converting plant (that produces the finished product). The plant is characterised by the use of innovative technologies for the papermaking, converting and warehousing stages.
“The American market today accounts for around 15% of Sofidel's turnover and is a crucial market for us, where we intend to grow further. This large, modern, brand new plant is set to fuel our growth significantly in a highly competitive market that, at the same time, offers great business opportunities. It represents a strategic investment that combines production efficiency and sustainability. For Sofidel, this is a new step towards the future which we are very proud of,” stated Luigi Lazzareschi, CEO of the Sofidel Group.
“Today marks another historic milestone for Sofidel Group,” remarked Emi Stefani, chairman of the Sofidel Group. “The same growth strategy that we have pursued in recent years in Europe, based on a mix of greenfield investments and acquisitions, is taking shape in the United States as well. It's a strategy that we consider crucial for our American growth.”
The Circleville plant will be equipped with two Advantage New Tissue Technology (NTT) 200 paper mill machines, manufactured by Valmet, a global leader in the development and supply of technologies for the pulp, paper and energy processing industries, for a total production capacity of 140,000 tons/year. The Advantage NTT 200 technology allows the production of both standard tissue and textured paper and will enable Sofidel to further increase the quality of its products and improve the energy efficiency of its facilities. Each one of the two machines works with a format of 5.5 m and a speed of 2,000 m/min.
As for the converting process, the Circleville plant will be equipped with 10 lines, which will be used to produce the finished product, including three Constellation lines manufactured by Fabio Perini, that feature a state-of-the-art technology to offer a better overall reeling quality while preserving the product’s softness and ensuring uniform sheet separation from start to finish of every roll.
Alongside the use of co-generation plants for the joint production of energy and heat, Sofidel will be introducing a system for the recovery of heat generated by the turbines. This recovered heat will be used first to dry the rolls of paper, and then to produce steam. This system will supply almost all the energy needed to dry the paper and will be able to supply the entire machine in specific operating conditions.
In addition, the plant is pioneering in terms of automation of logistics thanks to the collaboration with Elettric80 and BEMA. Through the application of techniques borrowed from the food & beverage sector to the paper mill industry, a system for the automated transfer of paper reels from the paper mill to the converting lines has been created – using LGVs, laser-guided vehicles. Moreover, complete automation of finished product handling is provided, through the Smart Store automatic warehouse, capable of handling more than 50,000 pallets of manufactured goods. This choice enables space savings of up to 40%.
To mark the inauguration of Circleville’s production plant, the company has decided to hold the award ceremony of the 2018 Sofidel Suppliers Sustainability Award (3SAward) in the US. The 3SAward is the annual prize set up to encourage, highlight and reward Sofidel worldwide suppliers’ best practices and improvement actions in the field of sustainability. The event will be held tomorrow in Columbus, Ohio. Another way of underlining the attention that Sofidel pays to the American market – the world’s biggest market for tissue paper consumption per capita – and the strategic value of sustainability within the Group's development policies.
The Circleville greenfield investment has been supported by Sofidel's participation in the SelectUSA project, a program to promote foreign investments in the United States