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50 years of successful web automation

Martin Automatic is celebrating 50th Anniversary of success in web automation solutions.

 Martin Automatic, with more than 7,500 high-performance unwind, rewind and tension control machines installed across 56 countries, is celebrating its 50-year successful history. The web automation major welcomed international media to the company headquarters in Rockford, Illinois to celebrate 50 years of successfully providing web automation solutions. Founded on the belief that simplicity provides the best reliability, Gavin Rittmeyer, VP Sales & Marketing, Martin Automatic says: “We believe true sophistication in technology is accomplishing the required task with the fewest number of parts. And to that end, we intentionally approach each design with these values in mind, whether automating a $100m asphalt shingle making line or a $1m label press.”

Established in 1968 by the late John Martin, and now owned by his son Jordan, the company is vertically integrated, with all design, manufacturing and production at headquarters in Rockford. The company has a proud achievement comprising over 7500 installations of high-performance unwind, rewind and tension control machines across 56 countries. Today, around half of all machines sold are based on standard models, with the remainder being purpose designed and manufactured to order.

“There is a definite Martin culture that one experiences, even when just visiting – it flows from the people that work here. It has produced a decades-long multi-generational workforce where freedom to evaluate and take risk exists – there is a true sense of entrepreneurial activity in every department. It is contagious, and creates a vibrant, dynamic, and challenging environment that brings the best out of people,” adds Gavin.

The company has many technology patents including inventions like inertia compensated dancer roller, the basis for tension control across the company’s wide range of splicing and web handling equipment. Already the Airnertia idler rollers is gaining global acceptance for the way in which it transports delicate wide webs in high speed, low tension processes in the tissue sector. “We have technology to automate processes that run from 10 to 900 m/min, web widths from 25 to 4000 mm, and rolls up to 8000kg with diameters up to 2400 mm. Equally, we have run 30-micron LDPE and 600-Micron paperboard on the same machine – we know of no-one else that has run this wide a range of materials on a single machine,” emphasises Gavin.

The solutions by the company serve a broad range of markets – from labels, laminates and boxes, to non-wovens like disposable hygienics, and roofing shingles and furniture etc.

Earlier this year Martin created an extra 20% production capacity by streamlining its shop floor to cope with increased demand for some of its larger machine types. “Less is normally more – if you look at how far we take the basic laws of physics in our pure-form engineering, you will see how it sets us apart from our competition, who resort to the crutch of electronics far sooner, ” says Gavin.

The day was topped off with a visit to the unique Martin corporate headquarters nearby. Originally built for John Martin when his previous house burnt down, it is the largest steel structure the company has ever made, and marks the ‘extreme’ end of the company’s engineering skills. It is striking architecturally, and a fitting legacy to Martin Automatic’s founder.


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