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  • 11 Dec 2019

Armor celebrates 20 years in the Americas

Armor celebrates 20 years in the Americas

Thermal transfer ribbon technology specialist Armor Group has celebrated two decades since the opening of its first facility in North America with the announcement of further expansion plans.

Armor Group, headquartered in Nantes, France, has been manufacturing thermal transfer ribbons in Europe since 1983 and over the years expanded its footprint to more than 13 manufacturing sites all over the world. In 1999 the group opened a facility adjacent to Cincinnati Airport in Hebron, KY, which in the last two decades grown to a staff of just under 90.

‘Armor USA started with 8 people and 11,000sqf and has grown to 81,000sqf,’ said Scott Morgan, technical sales manager in North America and one of the original employees. ‘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 100,000sqf.’

‘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 companies in our industry and brings a level of productivity, quality, and consistency that is unrivaled,’ concluded Morgan.

‘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,’ adds Ryan Heithamp, vice president of operations at Armor USA. ‘The automation and innovation don’t necessarily replace our most important asset - our employees. It helps existing workers increase productivity, improving competitiveness, and reduces work-related physical stress.’

In 2018 the company invested in a robotic palletizer, added to one of its high-speed packing lines, which precisely places cartons onto a pallet and is responsible for palletizing 63 percent of Armor USA’s total volume of packaged rolls. This results in an estimated 1,315 tons of weight that is no longer handled by operators.

‘In parallel with automation, our expansion in the Americas has been impressive, said Randy Culman, vice president of finance and administration. ‘Armor has opened production facilities in Brazil in 2007, Mexico in 2014, Canada in 2017 and Colombia in 2018. All of these projects were led by Armor USA administrative and operations personnel.’

According to the company data, since 2011, Armor USA’s sales volume has increased by 170 percent, and in the American zone, they have grown by 240 percent 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,’ commented Chris Walker, vice president and general manager, who recently celebrated his 20 years in Armor USA and 30 years with Armor Group Industrial Coding and Printing (AICP).

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