Sonoco held the Grand Opening of its state-of-the-art iPS Studio on October 27, 2015, hosting more than 100 guests including state officials, customers and community leaders. The iPS Studio is a leading-edge research, development and innovation center that connects consumer and market insights to the invention of new packaging solutions, all under one roof. Sonoco invested $12 million to build the new Innovative Packaging Solutions research and development studio at its Hartsville, S.C. headquarters. Key features of the iPS Studio include a Consumer Interaction space enabling live, direct observation of consumers interacting with products and packaging in areas including retail, kitchen, living and bathroom environments; collaborative spaces where experts can interact with the latest technologies to turn ideas into packaging concepts; technology for the development of structural design and manufacturing options that access potential for commercialization; a pilot plant to test manufacturing performance, state-of-the-art printing capability and rapid prototyping labs that aid in developing engineered prototypes that can then be tested in real world simulation spaces.
WestRock Company (NYSE: WRK) announced today that it is reconfiguring its North Charleston, SC, paper mill to improve the mill’s operating efficiency and long-term competitiveness.
As part of the reconfiguration, WestRock will permanently shut down one of the mill’s three paper machines and related physical infrastructure, eliminating approximately 288,000 tons of linerboard capacity. The reconfigured mill’s production capacity will total approximately 605,000 tons per year, consisting of three grades: kraft linerboard; KraftPak, an unbleached folding carton kraft paper; and DuraSorb, a saturating kraft paper used for decorative laminate and industrial end uses.
“The actions that we are taking at our North Charleston mill will substantially improve the long-term competitiveness of the mill by reducing our on-going operating costs and capital needs, and focusing more than half of the mill’s production on the high-value, differentiated DuraSorb and KraftPak products,” said Steve Voorhees, chief executive officer of WestRock. “Reducing the production of linerboard at this mill will help balance our supply with customer demand across our system.”
The company anticipates that the reconfiguration will increase WestRock’s annual EBITDA by approximately $40 million, primarily due to the reduction in operating costs from the shutdown of the paper machine and its associated infrastructure. This reconfiguration includes an anticipated workforce reduction of approximately 260 positions at this mill over a five-month period, starting in January 2020.
“We understand that this reconfiguration will impact our employees, their families and the community,” continued Voorhees. “Our teams are working to provide support and resources to our employees and their families as we move forward.”