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ROGER TAYLOR: Box maker Maritime Paper bets on post-pandemic economy

Corrugated boxes, used to pack lobsters, are made by Maritime Paper Products. maritimepaper.com
Maritime Paper makes specialized boxes used by the food and beverage companies to pack everything from beer to lobster tails. - Maritime Paper

New equipment to increase productivity, cut waste and improve company's carbon footprint

Packaging company, Maritime Paper Products Limited Partnership in Dartmouth has purchased some new technology, which will “reduce its manual operations with increased automation.”Despite that, Sheldon Gouthro president and CEO of Maritime Paper, says it will not reduce the size of the workforce at the company.

Currently there about 150 people at the company’s operation in Dartmouth and when combined with operations in St. John’s, N.L. and in Moncton, N.B., he says, the company’s total complement of employees is about 250 people.

The equipment purchased from Fremont, Calif.-based Electronics For Imaging (EFI) Inc. is expected to improve productivity, cut waste and reduce Maritime Paper’s carbon footprint.
Gouthro wouldn’t say how much the new equipment cost, except to say it is a significant investment. The plan is for the equipment to be installed at the main plant in Burnside Industrial Park by the end of the first quarter next year.

He admitted concern about the break down of the Atlantic Bubble, which may make it difficult to bring in technicians to complete the installation of the new equipment on time.

“Our number-one goal is to reduce waste, not just in paper but in overall operational efficiency,” Gouthro stated in the EFI news release. “We estimate our waste reduction with Escada (control systems technology) will be more than 10 per cent.

“With better process control we can increase speed and push up time on our corrugator and run a more sustainable operation with benefits that trickle down to every area of the company,” he said. “It’s like having cruise control on your car. I doesn’t mean there isn’t someone there still driving the machine.”

Maritime Paper produces more than 150 cardboard packaging combinations, says Gouthro.

“Each one has a unique recipe requiring specific run speeds, so this technology will give us the best efficiency and quality of our combined board while making rapid, automatic adjustments without comprising the quality of our board,” he said.

Maritime Paper, has been an independent corrugated manufacturer and printer for more than 90 years. It is one of six operating companies controlled by Scotia Investments Ltd. based in Bedford. Scotia Investments was incorporated in 1927, as part of the ongoing legacy of the late Nova Scotia industrialist Roy Jodrey.

The company started planning to purchase the EFI Escada Corrugator Control system during the last part of 2019, before anyone heard of COVID-19 and what it would mean, says Gouthro.

The new Escada system being installed in Dartmouth gives Maritime Paper a competitive advantage with the ability to produce higher-quality graphics on superior combined board manufactured.

While there was concern about what would happen at the beginning of the pandemic, Gouthro says there was a small downturn in the beginning but business picked up as it became apparent that there was increased need for packaging due growth in e-commerce.

“We were fortunate enough to be designated an essential service, because of the increased need for packaging during (the pandemic),” he says.

While there were plenty of concern about making this type of investment during a medical and economic crisis, Maritime Paper’s decision to proceed with its plan, means the company is focused greater efficiency which should serve the company well once the pandemic comes to an end.

The Escada system purchased from EFI is designed to produce the highest-quality boards at optimum speeds and with repetitive consistency. The other EFI product purchased is the Escada Syncro 7, which is designed to manage the corrugator control functions automatically, thus achieving maximum output.

Although the new system is being installed in Dartmouth, it is expected to also create greater efficiencies at the company’s plants in St. John’s and Moncton.

With the growth in demand for packaging, driven by increased home deliveries across all sectors of the economy, Gouthro says, achieving high-quality graphics is a competitive advantage when dealing with clients, particularly in the food and beverage industries.

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