Behind face masks, lips require less make-up. But if the lipstick market is looking a bit dull for the time being, this does not mean the recognised expertise in the area of the Plouhinec site of the Albéa Group - mechanism and decorative parts - is not called upon for beautiful projects which fit in with circular economy. One of them is a 100% single-material packaging with recycled plastic for a brand of vegetable cosmetics, and the other is a refillable lipstick for a prestigious make-up brand.
Supported by state-of-the-art equipment, its expertise in plastic injection, which can be used in many markets outside the make-up sector, is made available for any demanding company looking for an industrial partner combining quality, flexibility, responsiveness and agility. An opportunity that was seized by a young company in the health sector.
When NG Biotech, the Breton company specialised in serological tests and a pioneer and leader in rapid bioanalytical tests, received approval from the Haute Autorité de Santé (French National Authority for Health or HAS) for its serological test, it chose to favour short circuits for the moulding of the plastic parts required for its various rapid diagnostic tests.
Looking for a local supplier, it contacted the Breton Albéa site in mid-November. Both companies share the same industrial values and the same quality standards. From then on, everything went very quickly. Four weeks later, the first complete mould (16 cavities) was validated with the printing of several indications needed to carry out the test. An agreement was given to produce 3 million units. The machines started manufacturing a few days before Christmas and the entire order will be delivered in less than 3 months. "The mobilisation of the teams - the site works 7 days a week - demonstrates the desire to promote the excellence of Brittany’s production with the advantage of offering the customer the assurance of also reducing the transport-related environmental impact," reports Cyrille Guégan, Director of Albéa Plouhinec.
Fully automated production
Benefiting from high-performance machines that ensure competitiveness, industrial efficiency and very high quality, the site adapts its environment to the safety requirements that a new manufacturing process entails; for instance, the entire production line for NG Biotech test cases, including the packing stage, is fully automated.
With 50 presses from 30 to 450 tonnes that accept all materials, especially new recycled materials, and nearly fifty machines for decoration, finishing (varnishing, lacquering, screen printing, etc.) and for precision assembly (ultrasonic welding, clipping), Albéa Plouhinec can produce from the simplest to the most complex parts, assembled and decorated at high speeds, in small or large runs (several million). Most of the machines have an integrated automatic camera control system and every production run comes with a quality report.
"We can manage a project from A to Z - from the design or eco-design to the delivery of the approved finished product," explains Cyrille Guégan. "Thanks to our 3D printers, we can validate a concept in 48 hours. Like, for example, making a plastic shape impression in a metal mould. With this rapid prototyping, the customer saves time and costs. The site is also the group’s 3D mock-up and prototyping centre."
The commitment to public health of the Plouhinec site also illustrates the ability of the women and men who work there to adapt to other potential markets such as medical, hygiene and cleanliness, the environment, as well as electronics and the automotive industry. This team of 230 people is also proud to defend Made in France know-how.
The recent investment in two extrusion blow-moulding machines with in-line screen printing also opens up markets in the area of FMCG in cosmetics and beyond. Companies in the food sector, who favour short circuits and Made in France products, are currently evaluating the possibilities that the Breton site’s expertise could offer them. In cosmetics, the plant is about to produce 200 ml bottles made of 100% recycled food-grade plastic for a natural and responsible skincare brand.
The industrial excellence that motivates all employees daily goes hand in hand with respect for the environment. This leads the company to make eco-friendly counter-proposals - from the sourcing of the plastic material to the delivery of the finished product, including all stages of its processing. "Since 2017, the plant has been reducing its energy consumption by 10% per year. Equipped with heat recovery heating, it declares a neutral impact of atmospheric emissions, and has adopted a recovery approach for all its waste," says its director.
A true industrial partner at the service of the customer, Albéa Plouhinec is also fully dedicated to young people and the disabled. "The societal commitment of employees is a value of sharing, which has been rooted for more than 40 years in the culture of the company," details the manager. Benefiting from a continuous training process and a management system in which well-being on the workplace is considered one of the pillars of quality of life, each year the teams pass on their knowledge and passion for producing while respecting the planet’s resources, to more than 20 young people on a work-study basis. This commitment also applies to the integration of people with disabilities, either within the company or via adapted sub-contracting workshops, placing the company well above the legal threshold of 6%.
"Albéa Plouhinec is a trustworthy partner to efficiently and passionately lead any development project that promotes Made in France and favours short circuits while respecting societal and environmental values," underlines Cyrille Guégan.