Determined to show that Chinese manufacturing can also be synonymous with quality and innovation, the LPI Group, which was present at the PCD trade show last January, will also take part to Édition Spéciale by Luxe Pack, on May 26 and 27 in Paris and Cosmopack in Bologna, Italy, from September 03 to 06, 2020.
"Innovation is one of the Group’s strong value and the relationship to manual work is evolving in China to become, today, a social issue. The industry is facing several challenges: improving working conditions of employees, creating high added value qualified jobs whilst maintaining competitiveness in the face of rising labour costs. For Mr. Lao, the CEO of our group, the answer lies in automation and industry 4.0. In practice, this has resulted in the deployment of artificial-intelligence solutions developed by our teams and applied to injection moulding, assembly and the flow of components within the factory. The result is a significant reduction in waste and consumables, clean-room production conditions, an improved ecological footprint and a reduction in production lead times (4 weeks instead of 5 to 6 previously) In addition, LPI is the first factory in the world to automate the manufacture of injection moulding tools, thus halving the lead times (3 weeks to present the first elements of a 16-cavity mould) and offering a significant time to market advantage to customers," explains Olivier Faye, Head of Business Development & Innovation within LPI’s European office.
Automation and digitalization
Founded in 1999, the Company has its roots in Yuyao, near Shanghai, and today has two production sites (Lao Plastic Industries and Joly Beauty), three sales offices in China (Guangzhou, Yiwu, Shanghai) and offices in Tokyo and Paris. The Group produces Airless, pouch and piston packs, but also atmospheric pumps, skincare jars, lipstick mechanisms, make-up cases, waterproof compacts and lip glosses. The skincare market currently accounts for most of its sales but the Group is seeking to develop its position in the make-up segment by offering innovative processes and packs.
Dedicated to the injection of small and medium series, with a production area of 22,000 m2, Joly Beauty, the historic site, employs 700 people and offers on site packaging manufacture and the full range of decoration and surface treatment techniques.
Mainly dedicated to larger series, the second site, Lao Plastic Industries, which was inaugurated in 2017, has a production area of 40,000 m2. According to LPI officials, it is the first fully digitalized and automated plastic injection site in China.
"The Group is to date, the leader in industry 4.0 dedicated to cosmetic plastic packaging. We were the first to take the leap towards fully automated injection lines. The objective is to produce higher quality, faster and at a lower price, while reducing the environmental impact. It’s a virtuous circle," says Olivier Faye. "For instance, our pumps and Airless systems are therefore manufactured and assembled automatically, from the injection to the packing phases. However, visual checks are still performed at the end of the production line, because automatic detection systems today do not equal the human eye."
Production in a controlled atmosphere provides guarantees of hygiene and cleanliness for the manufacture of containers meant for increasingly fragile formulas. Surface treatments, such as UV lacquering or metallization, are sensitive to dust, and there too, production conditions make it possible to reduce dust and waste levels, and thus reduce scrap levels and improve the ecological footprint of the production site.
The Group also integrates an automated injection tool making line. "The quality and dimensional precision of the moulds are essential for the quality of the final product and we are also positioning ourselves as a leader in this field."
The automation of the LPI site also includes the replacement of cartons and pallets by resin boxes and reusable packaging materials, which helps reduces consumables, costs and the environmental impact. LPI is also working on refillable solutions, on reducing the number of parts in pumps and on lighter solutions.
Finally, to meet expectations in terms of eco-design, LPI has recently focused its efforts on sustainable plastic resins (PCR, biocomposites, biodegradable resins based on PLA or starch and ocean plastic waste, and seeks to develop partnerships with new resin suppliers on the market.
Building on its industrial assets, LPI has set out to expand its presence outside of China with the opening of a sales office in Paris and Japan in 2019. The Group is also present in North America, through long-standing partnerships, and is seeking to enter the Brazilian market.
"The two factories of the Group, Lao Plastic Industries and Joly Beauty Packaging, who already enjoys strong partnerships with the leaders of the local Chinese market, have a strong growth potential to offer to major international brands, who would like to benefit from the advantages offered by the Group: time to market, quality, clean room production, competitiveness and environmental responsibility," adds Olivier Faye.
Beyond these values for innovation and excellence, LPI boasts its CSR policy, with its new site, an example in terms of consumption and waste reduction, and which has adopted a proactive gender equality policy, and equality of pay in line with the market.
"We are aware of the high expectations of international customers, in terms of costs, quality, delivery times and reduction of the environmental impact. We want to work as closely as possible with their teams, with the creation in the future, of a real innovation and development pole in Europe, which will complement our pole in Asia," concludes Olivier Faye.