Fripa: a forge of ideas for the tissue market

The slogan adopted by Fripa “An eye for the market... and an ear for our customers” eloquently summarizes the strategy enacted by this German company, example of efficiency and innovation, whose points of strength are given by its experience in quickly answering market demands and strongly investing in technology and ideas.

Volume growth registered between 2007 and 2008 has allowed Fripa to invest in the production of reels with the installation of the new PM6, a PrimeLineCompact supplied by Andritz, as well as in converting with the purchase of a new model TIME700 line by Fabio Perini S.p.A.


Maura Leonardi

“Investing in technology: this, for Fripa, is the key word in order to maintain an important position in the market and establish long-lasting relationships with its customers. We have tried to combat this period of economic uncertainty through an investment policy aimed at giving us the proper instruments that will allow us to quickly answer market demands and offer our customers – prevalently companies making private label products – alternative services to stimulate consumption and introduce new products on supermarket shelves. Cost pressure, in the European context, has constituted the greatest stress factor for retailers, and the cost-saving efforts made by Fripa are aimed at contrasting the general increase in prices. The latter certainly represents a problem that has repercussions also in our business, but we must contrast it in order to survive. To remain on the market, we must always be different from the rest,” tells us Torsten Bahl, Sales Director of Fripa.


PRESENT PRODUCTION IS 100,000, TONS PER YEAR, of which approximately one-third is comprised of recycled product. The cellulose used is bleached without chlorine and the products are not treated with optical whiteners or perfumes. The recycled product is marked with the Blue Angel ecological label. “High quality products is the trait that characterizes Fripa, just like flexibility and high production performance are the two essential features in order to become suppliers of companies selling private labels. For this reason, we have made technological choices that answer the criteria of quality, flexibility, high performance and softness,” continues Bahl.


IF WE ANALYZE THE GERMAN MARKET, we discover a process of change that is shifting demand towards soft products. In the past, one of the main factors was the number of plies. We’ve gone from 2 plies with embossing obtained through Steel/Steel technology, to products having from 3 to 5 plies, where the 5-ply product represents top of the range today. The innovative embossing systems introduced in the last few years have favored the diffusion of very elaborate engravings and the use of colored glue has conferred a pleasant aesthetic aspect and have had a strong visual impact on the consumer. Today, the trend is towards soft products, both hygienic (softness) and kitchen towels (absorption), with particular attention to ecological products obtained through a production process that respects the environment.


“RESPECT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT IS THE PRINCIPLE THAT LIES BEHIND OUR STRATEGY. We all use electricity and we must do our best to reduce energy consumption or to find new solutions that allow us to be ecologically friendly. Our new cogeneration plant for electricity will allow us to reify our efforts in the realm of environmental and resource protection. The new turbine will have an efficiency of about 80%, and thanks to the combined use of residual heat and electricity, we will obtain the certainly more efficient energy production solution for a paper mill, reducing CO2 emissions by 20,000t per year. The other system used is water treatment that allows us to averagely reduce waste in refluent waters by about 2lt for every kilogram of paper produced. Being optimal suppliers means proposing excellent quality at a good price and a product that respects the environment. For Fripa, ecology is at the basis of modern industrial ethics. The choice to use exclusively cellulose coming from sustainable forest economies and from legal deforestation is for us an inexorable must. The planet belongs to all of us!” states Andreas Noack, CEO of Fripa.


TO SATISFY THE DEMAND FOR SOFT PRODUCTS, IN 2003 FRIPA STUDIED AND DEVELOPED THE TAE® (THROUGH AIRPAD EMBOSSING) TECHNOLOGY to confer the utmost softness to products and 30% more bulk with respect to traditional toilet rolls: an innovation that has made Fripa brand products softer, bulkier and more resistant. In March 2008, with the aim of actively answering the demand for soft products, the company installed the new PM6, PrimeLineCompact supplied by Andritz, for the production of 100 tons per day of high quality soft tissue. The easy installation, together with its simple operation and reduced maintenance, have allowed Fripa to attain excellent results in terms of production. Investments in technology have not stopped with the installation of the new Andritz PM, but a new dedicated converting line was purchased, too: the model TIME700 line supplied by Fabio Perini S.p.A., also installed in the summer of 2008. The success of the investment is measured by Fripa in terms of the high quality obtained thanks to a far-sighted strategy that leads the company to believing in innovation and in vanguard technology – two factors that, in the course of its 100-year-old history, have given the company a not unimportant position in the European scenario. For Fripa, the container – and not only the content – plays an important role in consumers’ choice criteria. For this reason, also the packaging has been the object of study, innovation and constant research in terms of graphics and design. “Our customers want to offer their consumers the best quality product with a great design. The visual aspect is one of the main features in consumers’ choice criteria, and a catered packaging for what concerns aesthetics and format does not go unnoticed on supermarket shelves. This fact leads us to study solutions that are practical and ergonomic, easy to handle and attractive. A good design together with excellent product quality: this is what we offer. Our sales activity concentrates not only in serving the market but also in developing it through our initiatives and the possibility of offering practical packages, that can be easily transported, with a captivating, catered look, and that makes a difference. A clear message and a strong visual impact allow our customers, and, in turn, ourselves, to enhance brand awareness, even if we are speaking about private label products,” continues the Sales Director. An example of the latest innovation: Fripa, as a forward-looking company, has launched a new registered embossing toilet paper product.


IN CLOSE COLLABORATION, FRIPA AND FABIO PERINI S.P.A. HAVE DEVELOPED THIS INNOVATIVE HYGIENE PRODUCT whose particularity consists in the in-phase synchronization of the embossing designs, realized on the internal and the external ply of the final product. Thanks to the flexibility of the latest Perini Embossers and to their special electronic technology, it allows the synchronization of the designs engraved on the steel rolls of the embossers. “We try to understand and interpret the needs of the customer and the most appropriate solutions for them, in the most flexible way possible. We try to understand our partners’ expectations, listen to their requests and try to answer and satisfy their needs: this is our strength. Innovation and marketing are the two main instruments for the market. We propose alternative solutions that attain the established target: our result is quality and new technology. In 2005, the input given to us by our commercial partners to reduce the volume of box cardboard led us to develop a new palletizing technique for handkerchiefs, so today we wrap the Trolley 30-piece handkerchief package only with OPP film without the use of cardboard, the classic support material, gaining in space savings and satisfaction by our customers,” emphatically adds Andreas Noack.


AND WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE AFH MARKET, WHERE FRIPA HAS ITS OWN BRAND? “The AfH market is growing very slowly also due to the general economic situation that leads state-owned and private companies, state agencies and governments to reduce costs and hence not to invest in superior quality products. Despite this climate of general uncertainty, we still believe in this field and are working on new ideas to promote new products on the market,” explains Torsten Bahl. In conclusion, following our pleasant meeting with Andreas Noack and Torsten Bahl, we can state that with a 365-day, 24-hours-a-day production schedule and 320 employees working on three PMs and several converting machines, Fripa is a company that is consistently traveling towards the future of tissue.

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