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    Armor News


    ARMOR USA Celebrates 20 Years in the Americas

    The ARMOR Group, headquartered in Nantes, France, is a pioneer in Thermal Transfer Ribbon technology. Manufacturing in Europe since 1983, the group opened a facility in Hebron, KY (adjacent to Cincinnati Airport) in 1999, and opened another in Singapore shortly thereafter. The global footprint has been expanding ever since with now more than 13 manufacturing sites all over the world.

    ARMOR USA has grown to a staff of just under 90, many of whom reside locally in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area. Scott Morgan is one of the original employees that continue to work as the North American Technical Sales Manager: “ARMOR USA started with 8 people and 11,000 square feet and has grown to 81,000 square feet” This is only part of the success story at the Americas headquarters. An expansion is planned for 2020, which will bring the total square footage to over 100,000 square feet. 

    Morgan continues...“The most significant change is the automation we’ve added over the years. We’ve pioneered robotic automation for the converting and handling of Thermal Transfer film, which was conceived and designed solely by the ARMOR Group. This separates ARMOR from other actors in our industry and brings a level of productivity, quality, and consistency that is unrivalled.” 

    Vice President of Operations of the Americas Ryan Heitkamp, notes: “We have become more automated in many ways beyond robotics, including adding vision systems, scanners, MES... which have also brought a lot of process improvements and efficiencies” 

    Heitkamp is proud to add... “ARMOR’s automation and innovation doesn’t necessarily replace our most important asset - our employees. It helps existing workers increase productivity, improving competitiveness, and reduces work-related physical stress.” 

    An example of this is the 2018 addition of a robotic palletizer, added to one of their high-speed packing lines, which precisely places cartons onto a pallet and is responsible for palletizing 63% of ARMOR USA’s total volume of packaged rolls. This results in an estimated 2.9 million pounds of weight that is no longer handled by operators. 

    Randy Culman, Vice President of Finance & Administration, says: “In parallel with automation, our expansion in the Americas has been impressive. ARMOR has opened production facilities in Brazil (2007), Mexico (2014), Canada (2017) and Colombia (2018)… All of these were projects led by ARMOR USA administrative and operational personnel.” 

    Since 2011, ARMOR USA’s sales volume has increased by 170%. Furthermore, in the American zone, they have grown by 240%. This is all thanks to an initial employee base that has paved the way for new personnel and projects.  

    As testament to the longevity of ARMOR’s commitment to their global workforce, 18 employees in ARMOR USA have remained with us for 15 years or more,” proudly adds Chris Walker, VP & General Manager, who celebrated 20 years in ARMOR USA and 30 years with ARMOR Group Industrial Coding and Printing (AICP) in 2019. 


    Automation Continues to Assist Workers at ARMOR USA

    After almost a year of planning and installation, the palletizing robot joined the ARMOR USA plant last September. Many departments were mobilized and involved in the implementation of this robot, and the production line that utilizes it is already seeing the benefits in terms of handling. Among these benefits is a 20% increase in overall productivity.
    The composition of the palletizing robot includes an articulated arm that can move any type of load onto a pallet with great precision. Due to its well-defined angle and direction of rotation, it can handle several pallets at a time.
    Installed on a production line that is responsible for 63% of ARMOR USA’s total volume of packaged rolls, this robot palletizes about 250,000 boxes every year. This results in an estimated 1.3 million kg (2.9 million lb) of weight that is no longer handled by operators. It also makes it possible to improve quality through a label scanning system.
    The continuous improvement, maintenance, automation and IT services have opened the door to carry out this project and its ensuing benefits, which have become a tremendous asset for ARMOR USA. ARMOR continues to invest in improving its processes, placing manufacturing quality and the working conditions of its employees at the heart of its future endeavors.



    1999 > 2019 : ARMOR ASIA celebrates its 20th anniversary !

    This two-decades anniversary of its Asia subsidiary was celebrated with all the ARMOR teams based in Singapore, China, India & Japan.
     ‘For Armor Asia, it is time for maturity, expansion, ambitions, and to implement plans that we didn’t think were possible before,’ said Hubert de Boisredon, Armor’s chairman and CEO, kicking off the celebrations in Singapore. […]
    Mark Day, global sales director at Armor, set the stage by revealing that the company grew by 11 percent in volume worldwide last year, of which 17 percent growth came from Asia, 13 percent from Americas, and 8 percent came from EMEA markets.

    (abstract from Labels & Labeling issue 3, 2019)

    Click to read the full article on L&



    First AGV (Automatic Guided Vehicle) were introduced at ARMOR in 2015 with standard sized machines for moving pallets around the factory and larger models operating inside the warehouses. Guided by lasers, the AGVs move with minimal operator intervention and among the workers to bring the coated jumbo reels directly onto the slitting machine. As the AGVs follow a set path, collision with humans or damage to the products is avoided.
    AGVs are one element of ARMOR’s program to automate large portions of its production process. This process started over a decade ago with the robotization of slitting machines in order to support the company’s strong growth in all its markets. Following successful testing at Armor’s main factory in France, this technology has since been extended to the company’s subsidiaries around the world.
    Further automation has included the palletization of ribbon boxes, and the palletization and wrapping of jumbo rolls to be shipped to the company’s slitting facilities around the world.
    Frederic Thepaut, Industrial Manager at ARMOR, explains that such investments have been made to improve the company’s safety, quality and productivity. Robots are always running, except when maintenance is required; can work long, repeat shifts; can repeat tasks and processes ad infinitum; and operate inside fenced-off areas, improving safety.
    The result is to the benefit of both the company and its employees, he explains. ‘Our philosophy is to automate with robots each non-added value task of our processes and bring higher value to the job of operators, together with less physical constraints and more safety. Robots have not taken workers’ jobs, rather it has made and will continue to make it change. Today the main non-added value tasks are the handling and flow of products between the workshops and the storage area. In parallel, Armor workers are valued in a more technical job where not only their manual expertise is esteemed but also their capacity to lead a highly technical machine. They become automated machine drivers, which is a skill they easily use to grow their career.’
    ARMOR has also automated online quality control, checking the quantity and quality of each layer coated onto the PET film at a machine speed of 600m/min. This identifies defects, quarantines defective, and allows analysis and improvement of its production processes. This helps to improve the end-user product experience, and bring higher customer satisfaction.

    ‘Thanks to automation and robotization, we have a better repeatability of our process. The quality has been improved because it has become more consistent, and the operator can spend more time on quality and machine controls,’ says F Thepaut. ‘Productivity has been improved because the reliability is better, with fewer production breakdowns, and the manipulation is done much quicker than by human arms.
    ‘Workers on robotized machines are very proud and happy to drive such equipment, and it is much less tiring for them. Their knowledge increases with the technology, and they are not only a “push button operator”; we have more and more experts in machine operation. And once experimented with at our main factory in France, we export the technology worldwide to ARMOR slitting subsidiaries. Our co-industrialized model with strictly identical tooling in all our subsidiaries provides our engineers with opportunities to travel and work on automation programs in any ARMOR entity.’
    To deepen automation within its activities, ARMOR has started building its own robots and is looking at ways to automate other areas of its activities, with a dedicated industrialization team working on these projects.


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