Green Bay Innovation Group

RUST TO TECH, part 5 By Susan Stansbury Industry Consultant

This is Part Five of our series: Rust to Tech. While we know that converting and associated industries have made a leap from the old rust belt days into a world of technology and advancement, we need to consider how further innovation, even disruptive technologies, can propel—and challenge—new outcomes.

What are disruptive technologies?

One way to define the world of disruptive technology is to look at solutions that move beyond established technologies, ranging from significant displacement of current approaches and even creating entirely new advancements. Harvard Professor Clayton M. Christensen has also noted that disruptive technologies transform the competitive landscape.

What are factors affecting manufacturing?

  1. Robotics, automation & machine learning
  2. Smart technologies & digital recording
  3. Big data, algorithms & cloud computing
  4. Intelligent monitoring & sensors
  5. Material innovations, renewables & sustainability
  6. Energy storage, recovery & efficiency
  7. The “internet of things” merge data streams

Examples and expansion of these items follow. But first, a comment from Kevin M. Lee, Director of Solutions Engineering & SafetyChain Software, providing a view of the interconnectivity of all:
Manufacturing plants generate volumes of productivity, environmental and safety data daily. Harvesting and marrying machine collected data with human collected data empowers operators, supervisors, and executives to visualize abnormalities and trends in real time. Real time data capture combined with immediate visualization allows plant management to action the data for production improvements.

It’s the use of the above factors that results in improvements and disruptive changes described by Kevin Lee.

Robotics & Automation

The latest robotics offer higher levels of precision and hygienic standards. When combined with automated production lines, results are transformative. Looking specifically at the converting industry where slitting-winding and related operations are common, Bryan Reilly, Technologies Sales Manager, brings home concrete examples:

The questions I’ve received from my customers over the past couple of years center on what automation options exist for the slitter / rewinder and what downstream automation is available.  On the slitter / rewinder, options can include automatic knife positioning (AKP), laser core positioning, automatic core loading & positioning, automatic cross-cut of finished rolls, automatic tape-to-tail, automatic tape-to-core, automatic finished roll extraction (pushers) and choice of Left-hand or Right-hand drive.  Currently, only a handful offer Left-hand or Right-hand options, but demand is increasing for machines that can be “mirrored”.

Once finished rolls are pushed off the rewind shafts and onto the unload ‘tree’ – what additional automation can be used to improve quality and throughput of finished rolls?  Some manufacturers either offer or partner with automation integrators to include robotic removal of rolls from the ‘tree’ and 90° rotation so that rolls are eye-to-the-sky then placed on a conveyor.

Reilly adds: Next, there’s the option for automatic core labeling and outer wrap label placement along with edge/profile inspection. Yet further sophistication can even incorporate automatic bagging and palletizing.  A few larger converters are already at this stage of utmost automation while others are trying to focus on what level of automation they want to achieve and at costs in the next few years.  One thing is for sure, if the automation provides enhanced safety, reduced
roll damage, increased throughput and higher quality finished rolls – it’s only a matter of time before everyone will want higher levels of automation.

Smart technologies & digital recording, along with cloud computing, big data and other aspects of advancements all overlap and work together for the best efficiencies. Just looking at the stock market, CNBC Correspondent Bob Pisani notes that the market floor had some 4,000 traders when he began there, and now it’s down to some 200 traders. This type of worker shrinkage has occurred almost everywhere. With manufacturing still looking for workers for well paying jobs, technology is filling the gap with smart shop floor input.

Further regarding industry employment, according to David Manney (Manney’s Manufacturing Minute):

Even though these technologies can ease some of the stress of working in a factory setting, they don’t entirely eliminate the need for workers who understand what is going on in each process and can react if things break down or something doesn’t go as planned. These new processes also allow manufacturers to rethink how they handle every step of production, from raw materials to finished shipping goods.
[When] you’re talking about factories where human hands are still the last step in production, which means manufacturers need to think about ways to integrate their machines seamlessly into their workflow.

The Midwest is the engine of manufacturing in the U.S., particularly manufacturing and converting roll goods. Indiana and Wisconsin vie for best areas in terms of the number of workers in manufacturing. In Wisconsin, with an industry labor force of nearly 500,000, the state is heavy on small-to-midsized manufacturers who are not prone to moving their business overseas, but sometimes challenged by lack of big business capital. Interestingly, LinkedIn listed Madison as first of the top 10 in “tech’s most resilient hub,” where engineering talent is showing growth.

Among the factory floor inputs are sensors that report everything from electric current data, to humidity, pressure, temperature, flow, and various defect detections. In paper and printing, visual inspection and sensors report imperfections such as holes and imperfect print. Consider a flexographic 10-color, gearless press run at high speed with cutting-edge features like second pass in-register printing, automatic impression setting, automatic viscosity control and the ability to track performance 24/7.

It’s a world away from the days when samples were taken to the lab to determine many of these factors. Companies who run roll goods had higher challenges in getting in-process samples. You could not stop a high-speed coating process, for example, to check quality every hour or so. It was a challenge when compared with products like pouches, canisters, pads and individual items that could automatically be kicked out of line at a specified point for inspection. Now, it’s all done at smart tech levels.

In the current tech environment if “AI is designing perfect custom knee implants” (Healthcare Packaging) and 3D printing is increasingly making medical “parts,” it’s happening in manufacturing too. “From file to 3D object is also revolutionizing manufacturing,” says GE Additive. At AdvancedTek of Waukesha, WI, production parts and tooling are major 3D activities.

Consequences of advancements also affect waste. Paper is already the most recycled material, being natural and renewable, with automated processes also reducing waste. And source reduction of waste is superior to trying to recycle, biodegrade or compost after sale. In addition, companies like Stora Enso and GP mills have had drastic reductions in process water usage. Plastics, too, are under major moves to reduce plastic. Manufacturers are finding disruptive avenues throughout their factories.

Materials and containers are changing rapidly. From the U.K.’s “Ecover” refill stations allowing bottle reuse up to 50 times, to sensors that indicate food shelf life—the ability to design new materials and packages is game changing. Who would have imagined, just a few years ago, that one of the older nonwovens web technologies, needlepunch fabrics, would be used in a new Nike Forward apparel line to reduce its carbon footprint.

“The Internet of Things,” sums up a popular view. It is described as technology that allows addition of a device to objects such as electronic and other factory systems to connect and exchange data.

Robotics & Automation

Susan Stansbury is a converting advocate with extensive experience in paper, converting, printing and related industries serving in roles including sales, marketing and product development.

Reprinted with permission from


The Green Bay Innovation Group would like to thank ALL of our Keynote speakers and our excellent panelists for a very successful event. We all recognize the importance and impact that paper has on the 5P, Converting and Supporting Industries in the State of Wisconsin. We would like to thank First Business Bank as a major sponsor of the event.


Marty Ochs – Executive Director of the Green Bay Innovation Group
Michelle LeMere – Vice President of Engineered Specialties at Pixelle Specialty Solutions
Jerimiah Janssen – Vice President of First Business Bank
7 panelists speak at the Build Back the Wi Paper Industry event.
Brit Swisher Midland Paper – Area Vice President – Northern Region
Sam Rikkers – COO – Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.


  • Jim Koronkiewicz – General Manager at BPM, Inc.
  • Nick Mares – President of Virdiam
  • Henry Schienebeck – the Executive Director of the Great Lakes Timber Association
  • Paul Fowler – Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology at UW Stevens Point
  • Daniel J. Leeson – Director of National Sales Western States Envelope & Labels
  • Mykaela Chaffin – Wisconsin Paper Council
  • Michelle LeMere – Pixelle Specialty Solutions

The event brought together a wide group of individuals and companies that are very committed to Building Back Paper Manufacturing to Wisconsin. We ALL recognize the impact Paper Manufacturing has on our businesses and our communities. We understand the potential obstacles that confront the paper industry. However, as a group we agreed that we can move forward to support Building Back the Wisconsin Paper Industry. The Green Bay Innovation Group will be moving forward to build a group of individuals to form a committee to advocate, educate and move forward on plans to support the paper industry. If you want to be part of the committee, please contact me.

GBIG PRESENTS: THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF PLASTIC RECYCLING on April 12, 2023 with 5 Outstanding Speakers!

The Center for Chemical Upcycling of Waste Plastics ( is developing a technology that allows the recycling of flexible and rigid, multilayer and mixed plastic wastes. This technology is called solvent targeted recovery and precipitation, or STRAP.

STRAP uses non-toxic solvents to produce food grade resins from previously unrecyclable materials. STRAP has been demonstrated in the laboratory and is now being scaled up. A larger 25 kg/hr pilot system is being built at Michigan Tech University and will be completed at the end of 2023.

CUWP is working with several plastic converters (Amcor, CNG, ePak, Placon) to convert their plastic wastes into high quality resins. The pilot system will provide enough material to plastic convertors to qualify them in several applications. After CUWP successfully operates the pilot system, the organization hopes to design the first commercial facility in Green Bay. This facility will produce high quality PE and PP resins from plastic wastes and sell them back to plastic convertors.

Bio of George Willis Huber

George Willis Huber is the Richard Antoine Professor of Chemical Engineering at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focus is the design of disruptive technologies for the recycling of waste plastics and working to bring these technologies to market. He is the director of the $12.5 million Center on Chemical Upcycling of Waste Plastics (CUWP).

He is co-founder of two companies that are commercializing technology he developed: Anellotech ( and Pyran ( He has been named a “highly-cited researcher” in the area of chemistry, an award given to the top 1% most cited chemists. He has published over 230 papers, more than 20 patent applications, and received over 40,000 citations,.

Professor Huber has received visiting professorships from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2015 (at Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics), from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2019-20 and the ExxonMobil Visiting Chair Professor at National University of Singapore in 2019. He obtained his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from University of Wisconsin-Madison (2005). He obtained his B.S. (1999) and M.S. (2000) degrees in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University.

GBIG NEWS | 85 Stories and Links on the Internet 02/20/2023


Get links to the latest news, events, stories, and interviews from our 5P news sponsors. Our goal is to remind the decision-makers in Wisconsin of the importance of our industry both historically, and more importantly, into the future.

Read the latest 84 Stories and Links on the Internet below.

A Story of Success in the Paper Industry – ST Paper, LLC

ST has facilities in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin, Franklin Virginia and Duluth, Minnesota. The company operates five tissue machines and produces bath tissue, paper towels, and napkin parent rolls primarily for the Away-from-Home segment of the North American tissue market.  Sharad Tak and his son Sahil entered the tissue market in 2007 with the purchase of the Oconto Falls mill. Investments in the mill’s team members and assets have expanded the mill’s customer base and improved its production capabilities to create a successful tissue mill. Today, the Oconto Falls mill and greater Northeast Wisconsin community benefits by the funding of numerous local charities and scholarship support to positively impact of lives of people. A TRUE SUCCESS STORY FOR THE WISCONSIN PAPER INDUSTRY!

We want to thank Ron Thiry the COO of ST Paper, LLC for providing a tour of the new Duluth facility.  Our guests included Marty Ochs – GBIG, Peter Bekx from American Custom Converting, James W. Fuller formerly with Appvion and Alex Jerabek with Baum Machine, Inc. 

Sharad Tak acquired the paper mill from Verso Corporation in May of 2021 and immediately embarked on a project to install a new Andritz tissue machine to convert the Duluth facility from production of supercalendered printing grades into a manufacturer of recycled-paper tissue and napkins. The new tissue machine is 210 inches wide and will run at 6,500 feet per minute running lightweight tissue grades and washroom towel grades utilizing virgin and recycled pulp fiber or any blends of those combinations.

75 people are currently employed at the Duluth Mill and are prepared to operate on a 24 hour per day, 365 days per year basis. The first reel of tissue was produced  on January 20, 2023.  Within a day of running, first quality tissue was being produced with several truckloads already shipped to customers and positive feedback being received.  

The Duluth project is the second example of ST’s vision to utilize infrastructure and assets of closed mills to successfully convert them into tissue production facilities.  The first project in Franklin, VA involved the purchase of a mill site that had been closed by International Paper.  The first fine paper machine was converted into the widest tissue machine in the United States in 2013.  In 2018, the second machine was converted into tissue production.  This investment approach reduces the capital requirement to add capacity into the tissue market but more importantly utilizing the skills of the employees that would otherwise be displaced by the shuttered mill.  

Branding at its Best Webinar

Branding at its Best Webinar is March 23

You already have a logo, website, and Facebook page. But are you leveraging branding to its fullest potential to increase sales and attract employees? What aspects of branding are you missing? For branding advice you can use, attend the Branding at Its Best webinar, presented by Bill Koehne, owner of Packerland Websites. As a marketing expert, Bill provides insights and perspective, along with wit and wisdom. Everyone will walk away with at least one aha moment that will make them look at their organization in a completely different way.

Green Bay Innovation Group Webinar

The free webinar is sponsored by Green Bay Innovation Group, a business-to-business consortium of Northeast Wisconsin companies in the 5P industries: paper, pulp, plastic, printing, and packaging. Packerland Websites will host the webinar on its website. The business training event is free and open to the public.

Branding at Its Best Webinar Details

When: 2pm CT Thursday, March 23

To register: Visit the Green Bay Innovation Group (GBIG) website Events page.

Where: To access the webinar on March 23:

  • Visit
  • Scroll to the footer
  • Click on Conference Room 1

Branding & the Millennial Generation

Branding is a powerful tool for business leaders. Branding helps companies market their products and services to their audience. Additionally, branding helps companies market themselves to prospective employees and retain current employees. By 2025, 75 percent of the workforce will be millennials. Organizations are more likely to hire who they need if they understand how brands are perceived by the millennial generation.

What to Expect at Branding Webinar

In this webinar, marketing expert Bill Koehne will share information that every business leader should know about branding. Plus, Bill will share specific and practical ways to strengthen your brand. You will learn:

What is branding and why is a key to success in business?
How to build an authentic brand that tells the world the right story.
How to get your brand found on the internet for your desired search terms.
How to differentiate your organization from others in order to recruit, manage, and retain employees.

Register Today for Business Branding Webinar

What is your organization’s brand presence now and how can you improve it to achieve your business goals? Register today for this business branding webinar presented by Packerland Websites’ owner Bill Koehne and Green Bay Innovation Group.

Meet the Webinar Presenter

Bill Koehne is a high-tech people-person with a brain wired for numbers, marketing, and optimism.  He built his first website in 1999, putting him on the cutting edge of technology. Bill earned a business administration degree at UW-Green Bay. He managed a multi-million-dollar home construction company for 20 years before opening Packerland Websites in 2011. Packerland Websites creates WordPress websites and SEO strategies to achieve clients’ goals, like ranking higher on Google or gaining more customers. To see samples of Packerland Websites’ work, view this portfolio of commercial, municipal, and nonprofit websites.

Rust to Tech: Part 4

By Susan Stansbury, Industry Consultant

This is Part Four of our series: Rust to Tech. This edition is another indication that converting and associated industries have made a leap from the old rust belt days into a world of technology and advancement.

Here I cite instances of converting markets with related manufacturing technologies. One example of how to begin the overview is to look at one company supplying numerous markets and using tech developments to serve customers using a nucleus of strengths.

A Rebel Converter

Labeling and product identification in packaging are essential to consumer interest and recognition. In the canister wipes segment, Rebel Converting’s X-Treme canisters feature digital high-resolution printing which allows print of any design or graphic. Labels can be sequentially numbered, have different sets of numbers on them, or include unique images. The labels are in-molded — melted into the canister for durability.

With the approach taken by Rebel Converting to do digital printing, prototyping becomes easier. Artwork changes are quick with short lead times. Full digital technology allows Rebel to provide customers with sample canisters identical to those from a final production run. Canisters are prototyped for customers to test market new products, brands, and designs.

Sustainability & Environment

  • Some say plastics will never be biodegradable. Responding to market interest, Suominen, a U.S. and European supplier, has introduced a nonwoven substrate, Hydraspun Circula, which is bio-degradable, plastic-free and can be used in multiple applications.
  • STEM is a new line of bug killer sprays and mosquito repellents that is powered by botanical extracts formulated in combinations to optimize effectiveness. The entomologist-tested and scientifically engineered one-stop pest control shop is designed to be effective in killing or repelling bugs, but safe to use around humans and pets. The plant-derived active ingredients like lemongrass, mint and rosemary oils help fight nature with nature. STEM insecticides and repellents have no added dye, fragrance or harsh chemical odor.
  • Producers are addressing traditional blister packs with paper, film, plastics and foils used to protect medical and specialty contents. For example, Keystone’s Ecoslide-RX compliance package includes updated re-closable safety features. The award-winning Ecoslide-RX is made from 100 percent recyclable paperboard and is easily separated from its internal blister for recycling. The blister is disposed of but contains only a fraction of disposable plastic when compared to bottles.

According to Converting Quarterly which features web processing and finishing technologies, there are three “top trends:”

  1. Flexible structures, including flex packs, emphasizing medical devices and pharmaceuticals;
  2. Sustainability with newer recyclable polymers as an alternative to biodegradables; and
  3. Printed electronics specifically with growth in the healthcare industry.

Digital Manufacturing

Procter & Gamble and Microsoft Corp. have announced a new collaboration to leverage the Microsoft Cloud impacting the future of digital manufacturing at P&G. The two companies will co-innovate to accelerate and expand P&G’s digital manufacturing platform and leverage the Industrial Internet to bring products to consumers faster and improve productivity to reduce costs.

“Together with Microsoft, P&G intends to make manufacturing smarter by enabling scalable predictive quality, predictive maintenance, controlled release, touchless operations and manufacturing sustainability optimization — which has not been done at this scale in the manufacturing space to date,” according to P&G.

Further on the equipment side, current production lines increasingly include automation with complete system integration to ensure that synchronized conveyors, modules, and robots work perfectly with up-stream and downstream equipment.

Following the pandemic, with supply chain materials and logistics issues, U.S. manufacturers are moving to make more parts and substrates domestically. In addition, according to Deloitte, “The manufacturing industry is building back fast, undeterred by significant labor and supply chain challenges.”

The stress on disposables retailers from wipes to masks and tissue products has led to manufacturers making a wider array of items in-house. Why order from afar when, “We can expand our capabilities and make it right here.” Enabling that determination is continued sales growth. Protective inventory build-up also is far removed from the just-in-time era.

Many of these examples are leading indicators of the next generation of technologies that will be “disruptive.” This will change the converting world for manufacturers. Coming up is the last chapter in this series focusing on disruptive technologies.

This article is reprinted with permission of with some updates.

ATCAM Celebrates 30th Anniversary

LITTLE CHUTE – ATCAM LLC will prepare for their next 30 years in business by expanding with
additional large diameter turn tables as well as incorporating robotic cells to provide efficient
uniform thermal sprayed coatings; along with a new logo.
The first-generation family business began in Little Chute in 1993 and has continued to operate
under the same management. ATCAM, a thermal spray and custom/CNC machine shop found
success and growth by offering customers cost effective solutions and industry leading
turnaround times with most jobs completed in under two weeks. The company’s growth can be
attributed to quality service, dedicated long term employees and embracing automation and
Founder Peter Andres built the business from a small shop of less than 5,000 sqft and 2
employees into a business with over 35,000 sqft and 20 employees. Expanding into custom CNC
machining has allowed the company to machine and thermal spray under one roof. During that
time there has been incredible innovation with thermal coating allowing ATCAM to formulate
custom coatings specific to their customers desired application. The company utilizes twin wire
arc spraying and combustion flame technologies, along with powder/liquid top coatings for
various release or traction applications.
Since their founding, ATCAM has continued to invest in technology and grow the company
while maintaining incredible customer service. Company president Peter Andres has insisted
that healthy employees are the key to the company’s success and consistent customer service.
To ensure his vision of healthy employees, ATCAM is one of only a few companies to provide
100% medical coverage to employees and their families. According to Peter, “Fully paid medical
is just a small token of appreciation to our dedicated employees.”
Even with the robotics and dedicated employees, the company is still looking to fill several roles
as loyal customers continue to increase orders. The company is hoping to hire additional
employees in coating services as well as a CNC VTL machinist; however coating positions and
applications are available with little to no experience necessary. According to Peter “Training
employees on the job has always been a core strength of ours.”
Contact ATCAM at (920) 766-7880 or email

Wisconsin 5P, Converting and Supporting Industries

The Wisconsin 5P, Converting and Supporting Industries will be PAYING A BIG PRICE for neglecting our
Paper Industry!

  • Northeastern Technical Council has shut down their flexographic printing center! Wisconsin is home to the largest concentration of narrow web printing companies in the United States!
  • Printing Industries of Wisconsin was the premier printing organization in the United States. Today, it has been replaced by the Great Lakes Graphics Association.
  • The Paper Discovery Center is a museum and is replaced by The Atlas Discovery Center refocusing their efforts on STEM.
  • Verso shuts down Wisconsin Rapids, Clearwater closes, Neenah Filtration cuts back, Sonoco in Wisconsin Rapids shuts down their core plant, GP close Day Street and GP closes their Oshkosh Corrugated plant!
  • With ALL the shutdowns of the paper and pulp mills, it has had a BIG impact on the Membership Organizations across Wisconsin providing the education that is needed for employers!
  • UW Stout cuts back on their Graphic Arts Educational Program for the packaging industry!

We want to thank Paper Converting Machine Company for building their NEW state-of-the art Packaging
Innovation Center. It will be the hub for the latest flexographic print and package converting
technologies. Amcor Innovation Center in Neenah is developing new materials and products! The Great
Lakes Graphics Association based out of Wisconsin has expanded to represent the Great Lakes Region
Printing Companies representing the largest areas for printing in the United States. Billerud has
announced a $1 Billion Dollar plus Investment in their Escanaba plant offering opportunities for
Wisconsin Manufacturers. St. Paper based in Oconto Falls has finished installing a new tissue paper
machine in Duluth, MN. BPM, Inc. is making upgrades in water recovery and equipment. Green Bay
Packaging $500 + million investment in their Green Bay plant and the Georgia Pacific investments in
their Broadway plant and their distribution center has a major impact on the Wisconsin economy.

The Wisconsin Paper Council has been successful in building a non-partisan legislative group to support
the Paper Industry in Wisconsin. In addition, WPC is working on Financial Grants that support our
forestry and paper industry. The WPC and UW Oshkosh have put together a very good report on the
Paper and Pulp industries with recommendation on what the industry has to do! UW Stevens Point has
over 100 students in their Paper programs with 100% job placement plus adding Chemical Engineering
to their program. UW Green Bay has added Engineering Programs. The University of Wisconsin under
the leadership of George Huber is making huge progress in plastic recycling industries with the
development of new technologies and products! We are hearing Universities in Wisconsin looking into
developing and building packaging programs to support the 5P and Converting Industries. Currently, we
have outstanding programs at UW Madison, UW Platteville, UW Stevens Point, UW Green Bay, UW
Oshkosh and UW Stout. We ALL need to support all of our universities to build back the Wisconsin Paper
Industry! GBIG will be providing student scholarships for the 5P Industries!

GBIG NEWS | 84 Stories and Links on the Internet 02/08/2023


Get links to the latest news, events, stories, and interviews from our 5P news sponsors. Our goal is to remind the decision-makers in Wisconsin of the importance of our industry both historically, and more importantly, into the future.

Read the latest 84 Stories and Links on the Internet below.

Green Bay Innovation Group

Bringing Green Bay Companies Together. Green Bay Innovation Group is committed to building an authentic networking experience where innovation can thrive.

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