11 December 2022

Afera Member spotlight: tape and films manufacturer Novacel

 Having recently rebranded itself, French producer Novacel continues its 40-year run of contributing to customers’ industrial efficiency and participating in Afera, as explained by Jean-Loup Masson

Novacel’s rebrand

Novacel S.A.S., an Afera Member for decades, is part of Chargeurs Protective Films, a division of Chargeurs Group, which has been providing processing and protective films, tapes, paper specialties and machines for industry for over 40 years. Recognised for its leadership and expertise worldwide in surface solutions, Chargeurs Protective Films has recently gathered all its brands, including Novacel, Boston Tapes Commercial, Main Tape and Novacel Performance Coatings, under one name: Novacel. Chargeurs Protective Films is now named Chargeurs Advanced Materials. With its new brand strategy, Novacel revealed its new logo in October.

Novacel is now headquartered in Paris (St. Cloud), with its main production sites located in France, Italy, and the U.S. (New Jersey and Ohio). 11 service centres and a dedicated salesforces covers 90 countries, with 750 employees in all. The Company offers full solutions to its B2B customers with industrial processing films, technical tapes, paper products, machines (Walco and Omma brands) and a variety of services. The 5 B2B markets covered: building & architecture, consumer goods & design, industrial applications, automotive & transportation, and visual communication & signage.

How do surface solutions work?

“Our main activity is producing adhesive films for industrial processes,” explained Jean-Loup Masson, who is the director of innovation, R&D and products, as well as a senior vice president, at Novacel S.A.S. What does this mean? You may have a stainless steel sink at home. How was it processed? At the beginning, there was a flat sheet of stainless steel covered by, potentially, a blue Novacel processing film. The roll of adhesive film was likely to be 1 to 1.5 meters wide and 1,000 to 2,000 meters long before it was laminated onto the steel sheet. Then, with the technical film on top of it, the sheet was cut and deep drawn several times, eventually forming the sink. Once this was done, the film was removed without leaving any residue. Without the Novacel product, the sink would break or be stained with lubricants, and it would be wasted.

“So our films are used by manufacturers to enable the processing and assembly of our customer’s materials,” said Mr. Masson. “Our products are integral to the material, like a second skin, to avoid manufacturing defects.” The Company’s products are usually made out of a polyolefin-based backing associated with a very thin layer of adhesive. Some products are printed.

Novacel also has classical tapes in their product range. This would include, for example, repulpable splicing tapes used to assemble big rolls in the paper industry. “Our competitive edge is that we aim to preserve everything that holds value,” Mr. Masson revealed. “We have a unique range of eco-designed products called Oxygen, and our committed experts are in the field daily and globally to service our customers with responsible solutions.”

Using its expertise in this manner, and with the launch of its new signature “Beyond the Surface,” Novacel demonstrates its deep commitment to sustainability, innovation and responsibility for people and planet. The Oxygen range is continually expanding to help customers reduce their carbon footprint when using films. The Company is also constantly investing in its production assets for the development of new products, while at the same time reducing its impact on the planet. In this way, they have reduced their water consumption by 80% in the last 5 years and are investing in alternative sources of energy, as well as generally reducing their energy consumption.

How has the business and markets changed over the last few years?

“Our market is both global and niche, and we are currently in a transition mode that is affecting the whole value chain: our suppliers, customers and ourselves,” Mr. Masson reported. “One transition is the Green transition, the other the post-COVID world.” He explained that the Green transition leads to changes in products and production designs, at times at an extra cost. This is largely being pushed by regulation changes, of which there are more to come. “Adaption is key,” he advises. The post-COVID world leads to changes in supply chain management, with both geopolitical and economic uncertainties, including inflation. “Who knows what the world of tomorrow will bring? Or where we should produce which kinds of products?”

In terms of particular trends Mr. Masson is seeing, he remarked, “I believe that right now it is better to view the business as going through a double-transition rather than studying a past and a future separately.”

Engaging with the Industry: connecting with Afera

“I joined the tape business in 2003—almost 20 years ago—through adhesive processing films, namely very wide rolls of tapes!” Mr. Masson shared. He now consolidates R&D activity on all product ranges, formerly managing it from a marketing angle and presently focusing on sustainability and ecoconception.

Novacel usually sends 2 to 3 employees to attend each of Afera’s events, which are seriously promoted internally. “Novacel has been an Afera Member for years, and when I joined our company, it was obvious that I would learn about the business at the Association’s Tape College and Technical Seminar, which have become Industry standards,” Mr. Masson said. “Then, slowly but surely, I started attending the Annual Conference more often, and I even co-moderated one of the events with Afera Strategist Bert van Loon a few years ago.”

Then, he became an Afera Steering Committee (SC) Member in 2021, following the retirement of previous tape manufacturing company delegate Laurent Derolez, who had led Novacel since 1999 and was an active Afera SC participant for many years, serving as President between 2013 and 2015. “6 months after starting at Novacel, I attended my first Afera Tape College, and here I am 20 years later on the Steering Committee,” reflected Mr. Masson. “This is due to great exchanges with great people throughout the years!” In addition to the SC, Novacel participates in 2 Afera Flagship Sustainability Project (AFSP) Workstreams. “I must say I am more interested in CSR than technical matters, but the latter are very relevant too!” he admitted.

“To me, Afera is training, information and networking,” continued Mr. Masson. “You meet friends and not competitors. Together we try to face the structural changes of our markets.” One project which he has greatly supported is the recently launched AFSP, “because it is really necessary in this day and age to work together.”

Visit www.novacel-solutions.com for more information on their offerings, markets, environmental & social approach, and their new customer portal.