Process Worldwide

A Splash of Colour: The Right Pump for Inkmaking

Why AODD pumps are the secret ingredient for success at a Spanish ink manufacturer — When a Spanish hidden champion wanted to grow, their process equipment was not up to the task. Now, the company has moved beyond its humble roots, with the help of a competent partner — and a reliable pump technology.

It would seem to be a pretty safe assumption that Ugo La Valle has seen and done it all at Chimigraf: He joined the Barcelona, Spain-based ink manufacturer in 1970, the year the company was founded, as a technician, and has devoted his professional life to Chimigraf to such an extent that he is now its President.

In his 45 years, he has seen — and helped — Chimigraf grow into an internationally recognized company that is a leading global producer of water-, solvent- and UV-based inks for use in flexography, rotogravure and digital printing systems, as well as ink jet and screen printing, in the graphic-arts industry.

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Ugo La Valle joined Chimigraf in 1970, the year the company was founded, as a technician, and has devoted his professional life to the company to such an extent that he is now its President.

“We are specially devoted to the production and commercialization of inks for flexography and rotogravure printing,” said La Valle. “Last year, we produced 12,000 tons of inks and we exported 15 % to other countries, not only in Europe, but in North Africa and South America, and we sell our inks in more than 60 countries. We now have four production factories, one devoted to water-based inks, one to solvent inks, one to blending inks and one for digital inks.”

Like La Valle, Alberto Maestre Hoffmann is intimately familiar with the company for which he works. In his case, it is Barcelona’s Tecnica de Fluidos, also known as TDF Group, which is a distributor of industrial pumps, systems and solutions that have been designed to optimize the transfer of difficult-to-handle fluids. Hoffmann’s father, Aurelio Losada Maestre, founded TDF Group in 1976 and in 2000 Alberto became its Managing Director.

“We have always been dedicated to the distribution of industrial pumps and have slowly grown the organization to where we are now,” explained Hoffmann. “We now have 74 employees in Spain, six warehouse and office facilities in Spain, subsidiaries in France, Portugal, Poland and Switzerland, and a presence in 10 countries in Europe and South America.”

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With headquarters in Barcelona, Spain, Chimigraf manufactures water-, solvent-and UV-based inks for use in flexography, rotogravure and digital printing systems, as well as ink jet and screen printing, in the graphic-arts industry.

Partners For Life
Both Hoffmann and La Valle agree that the success and growth of their respective companies has been based on identifying and building business relationships with the right partners. “For us, it is very important to have long-term relationships with both manufacturers and our employees,” Hoffmann emphasises strongly.

“It is very, very important because it takes some time to learn about this pump market, to learn about the applications and the products. It is part of our culture to enhance and to push those long-term relationships that we have in Spain and in other countries in Europe and South America.”

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When the gear pumps that Chimigraf was using at its ink-manufacturing facilities began to experience unacceptable levels of fluid leaks, maintenance costs, operational efficiency and downtime, the company decided to install Wilden AODD Pumps to replace the ill-performing gear pumps.

To illustrate that point, Chimigraf became a client of TDF Group in 1982 and has remained loyal to its pump supplier for the ensuing 33 years. “The relationship with TDF is very important,” said La Valle. “We have a lot of experience with them and are very confident in their support. For us, they are the best company in Spain in this sector.” The admiration and respect between the two companies runs both ways.

“I would call Chimigraf one of those hidden champions that we have in the Spanish economy,” explains Hoffmann. “It’s a company that the general public wouldn’t know, but it’s a company that has been developing tremendously well over the years. They started small, but have grown nationally and internationally, and we have really grown into a nice partnership together.”

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The Final Ingredient
For many years, Chimigraf was using gear pumps for the transfer of raw materials and finished products at its ink-manufacturing facilities, but was beginning to experience unacceptable levels of fluid leaks, maintenance costs and downtime, as well as a loss of operational efficiency. With that in mind, La Valle reached out to Hoffmann to see if TDF Group could offer a solution.

“We had a lot of gear pumps and because of the technical problems we were having we had to stop producing several times a week,” said La Valle. “We had wear problems and had to maintain them a lot because every month we had some kind of problem we had to repair. It was a lot of added expense and we had to stop working, which was another problem.”

Hoffmann’s suggested cure for the ill-performing gear pumps were Wilden Air-Operated Double-Diaphragm (AODD) Pumps. Wilden, from Grand Terrace, California, is a leading manufacturer of AODD pumps and part of PSG, a Dover company, and has been a staple of TDF Group’s product portfolio since 1997. Wilden AODD pump models replaced the 20 gear pumps that Chimigraf was using in 2014.

“The main challenge that our Wilden pumps have been able to solve is that they had a lot of issues with gear pumps, issues of wear, issues of maintenance, and really the Wilden pumps have been the perfect solution,” Hoffmann sums up his experiences. “That’s why they are very happy with the Wilden pumps and it’s going to be very difficult to take them away from them.”

“We had 20 gear pumps in the past, but now we have no gear pumps,” added La Valle. “Now we have 100 air pumps from Wilden. We chose Wilden because of the dealer of the pumps, because of the technical service and because of the good price they gave us. It was a blend of different things.”

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Since its founding in 1970, Spanish Chimigraf, has grown into an internationally recognized producer of water-, solvent- and UV-based inks. Joining them on this journey have been Wilden AODD Pumps, which Chimigraf utilizes to maximize the cost and operational efficiencies of its global ink-manufacturing operations.

Going To The Next Level
The instant success that Chimigraf had with the Wilden AODD pumps also made it easy for Hoffmann to convince La Valle to upgrade a few of the pumps to those with Wilden’s latest innovation — the Pro-Flo Shift Air Distribution System, which was introduced in 2013 and features the operational capability to reduce air consumption by up to 60 %. This is possible through a unique design that uses an innovative air control spool to eliminate the loss and waste of air that would naturally occur at the conclusion of the pump stroke.

“We’ve been a Wilden distributor for 18 years and I have to say we’ve seen a lot of new products, new features, new devices, but the most exciting development by far is the Pro-Flo Shift because it addresses the problem we are facing today, which is the issue of energy consumption,” said Hoffmann.

“In Europe and, I think, all over the world, companies and individuals are getting more and more aware of energy efficiency. We have seen how dramatic the reduction in air consumption is with the Pro-Flo Shift and that is why one of the first customers we went to explain it to was Chimigraf.”

The demonstration was so impressive that Chimigraf subsequently purchased six Wilden Pro-Flo Shift AODD Pumps. “With the Pro-Flo Shift, we can save air and obtain the same or better results, so for us it is a good product that will give us the best technology available today,” said La Valle. “The use of electricity in air is very expensive, so if we can do the same work with half of the energy it is very important. For me, this pump is a very good choice and I am sure that the results will demonstrate that.”

To spread the word on the importance of reducing air consumption and how that can be accomplished through the use of a Pro-Flo Shift pump, Hoffmann is having a test skid constructed that he can take to potential customers for on-site demonstrations.

“We can explain it very well, but it’s something different when the customer can see it so that’s why we decided to create an air rig where we are comparing the air consumption of the new Wilden Pro-Flo Shift with the air consumption of our main competitors,” said Hoffmann. “We believe the difference is so important that we really want to show our customers with their own eyes how dramatic the savings are.”

Picture–Perfect Production
Chimigraf and TDF Group have walked virtually side-by-side as they’ve grown from fledgling companies to the well-respected entities they are now. Joining them on this journey to success have been Wilden AODD Pumps, which TDF Group considers one of the foundational pillars of its distributorship, and Chimigraf utilizes to maximize the cost and operational efficiencies of its global ink-manufacturing operations. “In our company, we rely on experts like TDF and technologies like Wilden to help us remain profitable and competitive,” said La Valle. “Our company trusts in Wilden and TDF because we are sure that they are the best, so we will prefer to remain a sole user of Wilden pumps.”