Back-tracking to the beginning, operating from a 300 square metre factory in the Cape Town suburb of Salt River, Acepak’s initial business focused on the manufacture of shrinkwrapping machinery. With rapid expansion, however, it wasn’t long before the business was on the move to larger premises in Wynberg, before moving yet again to a 900 square metre factory in Epping.
Growth was steady and just a decade after inception Acepak occupied its own premises in Montague Gardens. Five years later, however, space was again outgrown, and two departments (Engineering and Lasercut) were moved to other Acepak-owned premises in Epping.
‘Our decision to build a custom-designed greenfield plant to house all three departments was taken in 2018 and the move was completed by the end of 2019!’ reports a delighted CEO, Dave Grobler.
A snapshot sample of the myriad machines now manufactured by Acepak, incorporating the latest technological advances, robust design and flexible control options.
Global sales operations
Today, Acepak operates in the end-of-line packaging machinery segment not only in South Africa but across the globe. Indeed, Acepak’s systems compete favourably with world market leaders when it comes to quality and reliability and its products are now widely exported, through a comprehensive global network of sales representatives.
Apart from the head office at the new facility in Montague Gardens, Cape Town, Acepak has owned offices in Pinetown (KwaZulu-Natal) since 1996 and Kyalami Business Park (Gauteng) since 2016. In addition, serving customers in the UK, Acepak operates a sales office in Skelmersdale (outside Manchester).
‘We firmly believe our investments in such an infrastructure have ensured our ongoing ability to provide unparalleled customer support,’ Dave maintains. ‘Testament to the success of our strategy is the fact that no fewer than 8 900 machines have been built during the past 36 years,’ he adds.
All members of Acepak’s dynamic management team have between 25 and 30 years’ service at Acepak – in fact, more than half have clocked up over 20 years’ service, a proud testament to their commitment to the company.
‘We’re committed to providing customers with simple, cost-effective solutions to end-of-line packaging requirements, incorporating the latest technological advances, robust design and flexible control options,’ notes Dave.
While the original focus was on shrinkwrapping machines, this was soon followed by the manufacture of complementary equipment and systems, such as case packing, tray erecting, stretchwrapping and palletising.
A further natural progression was the most recent diversification into robotic palletising and case packing, and Dave reveals that 78 robotic palletisers, case packers and product handling systems have been installed in the past five years.
Another part of Acepak’s winning strategy is to choose partners who maintain the highest manufacturing standards and work ethics, as evidenced by its partnership with Japan’s Kawasaki Robotics, a company that boasts more than 50 years’ experience in the industrial robot business and is recognised as a global leader in this sector.
‘As a result, our new showroom not only features an impressive array of Kawasaki equipment, we also offer a training facility for our customers, helping them to understand the basic aspects of robotic programming and fault finding,’ Dave explains.
While robotics might be associated with replacing staff, this is certainly not Acepak’s plan.
‘We encourage customers to double efficiency levels without replacing staff, in order to meet the need for improved efficiency and output while containing costs. Robots are perfect for repetitive, back-breaking tasks such as palletising and case packing; they don’t replace employees but provide them with improved safety and an opportunity to improve their skills,’ Dave insists.
‘In South Africa, it’s particularly important to preserve jobs and it’s our contention that those who have been doing jobs manually should be trained in the use of robotics, in the process enhancing their skills.’
Another key partnership is with Italy’s Atlanta Stretch for the supply, installation and maintenance of a wide range of pallet stretchwrapping machines.
Acepak’s new machine shop features the latest laser cutting and CNC equipment to increase capacity and to enhance machine quality.
Quality and service guaranteed
Machines sold by Acepak, whether a single station or an entire line, are sold with a 100% quality and service guarantee and installed by professional technical engineers to ensure line efficiencies that meet and go beyond expectations.
The move to the new factory was accompanied by investments in a 4kW Bystronic Lasercutter and a Leadwell CNC machining centre, not only increasing manufacturing capacity but also enhancing machine build quality.
‘Our winning philosophy – compact and ergonomic design, simple and reliable mechanics, and cutting-edge control technology – applies to each machine we produce, right from entry-level series to our crème de la crème turnkey projects,’ Dave notes.
‘Each machine should become a long-term investment, giving reliable service for ten years or longer. And, by providing a dedicated service network in South Africa’s major centres, we provide customers with consistent maintenance programmes, plus ongoing advice and support regarding machine productivity and future expansion investments,’ he comments.
‘Equally, much of our success rests on good, old-fashioned customer service and solid relationships,’ he concludes.
A key aspect of Acepak’s winning strategy is to choose partners who maintain the highest manufacturing standards and work ethics, as evidenced by partnerships with Japan’s Kawasaki Robotics and Italy’s Atlanta Stretch. Acepak’s Kawasaki showroom features an impressive array of equipment and offers training facilities for customers.