Electroplating is a technique for covering a plastic part with metal decorative layers. The Aurillac site was equipped with its first electroplating line in 1978, and a second one followed in 1990. In 1978, Qualipac started making a name for itself in electroplating with the patent filed for Yves Saint-Laurent's iconic case. In 2018, a new high-tech innovative line replaced the historic 40-year old line.
The new line offers environmental and social benefits. According to Pochet, it will reduce the environmental impact and increase energy efficiency, with 20% less water consumption per cm², more than 50% reduction in gas consumption through heat recovery and more than 10% waste reduction. The nickel and chromium concentration in releases is divided by 20, and the process no longer uses hexavalent chromium. At the end of 2019, the production line will be connected to the wood-heated network of Aurillac. "Withthis state-of-the-art, safer and more accessible facility, and with a reduced use of chemicals, we are also improving the safety and working conditions of our employees," explained managers.
The investment in the new production line in Aurillac is a technological first, according to the supplier, and enables them to all at once, increase the production capacity and improve quality, working conditions and environmental protection. It also enables the company to broaden the palette of shades offered to customers. With 44% additional capacity and higher flexibility, “it meets the growing needs of the market for this type of high added value decorative process.”
Today, the Aurillac site is home to modern injection machines, robotized decoration and assembly machines. The company says this new, more efficient line also enables them “to strengthen its competitiveness, maintain its leading position in its sector of activity and perpetuate its presence in Aurillac by remaining a major local economic player.” The site is today the largest private employer in the Cantal department.
Established almost four centuries ago (1623), the Pochet Group, with its four entities—Pochet du Courval (glassware), Qualipac (plastic and metal processing), Priminter (accessories) and Solev (luxe decoration processes: varnishing, metallization,laser de-coating)—has developed a plan coined "Ambition 2023," in which the Group is implementing a major transformation program, serving the vision "to become the best global premium packaging company in the perfume and beauty sector, preferred by its customers for its inventiveness, the excellence of its multi-material expertise, the commitment of its teams and its social and environmental responsibility." To support this transformation, the Group launched a major investment plan (200 million euros over the 2015-2018 period) to develop and sustain its multi-expertise and competitiveness. The Group's environmental and social approach also demonstrates this commitment.
—From Beauty Packaging's European correspondent, Jean-Yves Bourgeois
PHOTO: Qualipac's electroplating line in its Aurillac, France plant.