Huhtamaki sets benchmark for efficiency and quality in flexible packaging
In 2019, Huhtamaki, a leading global provider of sustainable packaging solutions for consumers around the world, acquired a controlling interest in Everest Flexibles, based in Verulam, South Africa, which manufacturers flexible packaging.
Huhtamaki places great emphasis on productivity and quality at all production sites. With its joint venture, the focus on efficiency and product quality in the South African facility increased and the company also needed to increase output to meet customer requirements. It, therefore, became clear that new state-of-the-art line technology was needed in South Africa to expand capacities and combine high productivity with outstanding product quality.
Headquartered in Finland and founded in 1920, the Huhtamaki Group is represented in 114 locations across 37 countries. Huhtamaki Group offers paperboard and moulded fibre packaging solutions for fresh food and beverages, including packaging catering for food services, consumer goods, single-use tableware as well as flexible packaging for food, beverages, pet care and more. Huhtamaki Flexible Packaging South Africa in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal produces laminates and flexible packaging for food, beverages, pet care and more. For the new blown film line to be successful, it had to meet Huhtamaki’s stringent requirements, including high productivity, top quality film material, energy and production efficiency and easy product changeover.
Reifenhäuser EVO five-layer blown film line meets stringent requirements
When selecting the new technology, Huhtamaki Flexible Packaging had more in mind that just blown film production. After all, the facility in Verulam had the entire value stream chain under one roof – from the production of high-quality lamination films and printing to the converting of pouches and bags.
‘When selecting the new blown film technology, we considered our entire production chain,’ says Peyush Vaid, general manager of Huhtamaki Flexible Packaging. ‘We were looking for a system that would allow us to increase efficiency and improve quality in both film production and finishing.’
The company found the right solution in a Reifenhäuser five-layer EVO blown film line equipped with the EVO Ultra Cool 2.0 cooling ring technology and the EVO Ultra Flat unit. ‘It wasn’t a difficult decision for us. We’ve already had a good experience with Reifenhäuser technology in the past,’ comments Peyush. After a three- and five-layer line, the latest generation EVO blown film line is the fourth Reifenhäuser line in total in production. It’s a line that Huhtamaki is setting new benchmarks with in the South African market,’ he enthuses.
Record output and high efficiency
Because high productivity is at the top of Huhtamaki’s list of requirements, the Reifenhäuser line is equipped with the EVO Ultra Cool high-performance cooling ring. The counter cool air ring cools the blown film particularly quickly. Huhtamaki thus achieves an output of around 900kg/hour. This is a new benchmark in South Africa. ‘We’re more productive than ever before with the new Reifenhäuser line. However, the decisive factor is that we achieve outstanding film quality despite the high throughputs. Not every line technology manages this combination.’
The Ultra Cool technology achieves the high film quality – even at maximum throughputs – by homogeneously cooling the film from the inside and outside. For this purpose, the cooling air is precisely controlled via individual stepper motors, ensuring highest energy efficiency.
In this way, profile tolerances are also reduced to a minimum. For a 40µm film, Huhtamaki achieves a sigma profile of less than 3% at a throughput of 900kg/hour. This makes film production particularly material efficient. Huhtamaki also benefits from the high-performance cooling ring in terms of energy efficiency. Unlike conventional cooling systems, Ultra Cool works without heat induction and is thus 70 times more energy-efficient than the market standard.
EVO Ultra Cool 2.0
The EVO Ultra Cool 2.0 high-performance cooling system increases productivity while maintaining excellent film properties.
- Highest throughputs up to 1 000kg/hour (depending on recipe)
- Approximately 20% more cooling capacity than other commercially available systems
- Consistently best film properties
- High energy efficiency
- User-friendly system operation and process reliability
- Suitable for all commercially available recipes
- High precision, flow-optimised component
- Perfect air distribution
- No inducing of heat
- Average energy consumption: 0.14kW
- Heats up the cooling air
- Less output
- Average energy consumption: 10kW
Fast converting thanks to flat film
Huhtamaki is the first manufacturer in South Africa to use Ultra Flat technology, which allows the production of up to 40% flatter film. The efficiency of the technology results from the special position of the unit. While other flatness systems on the market are positioned upstream of the winder, Ultra Flat is positioned directly behind the haul-off. Only this unique and patented position permits stretching using initial heat – for optimum flatness results and energy efficiency that saves costs.
EVO Ultra Flat Technology: energy efficient
EVO Ultra Flat is a film haul-off with a patented, integrated flatness package for perfect blown film that can be further processed more efficiently and reduces costs.
While other flatness systems on the market are positioned upstream of the winder Ultra Flat is positioned directly behind the haul-off. Only the unique and patented position permits stretching using initial heat – leading to high energy efficiency.
The EVO Ultra Flat converts blown film faster with up to 30% higher printing speed. It also improves quality in finishing. Above that, it reduces production costs by savings of up to 30% on adhesives, 20% on ink, and 10% on raw materials.
Energy savings essential
Consume as little energy as possible – that’s the objective for many manufacturing companies in South Africa. Energy supply is a major concern in the country. With Eskom overloaded, electricity is constantly being regulated – and this also affects industry.
In the past 12 months, the situation has become even more dire. Energy efficiency is, therefore, a priority for Huhtamaki South Africa. ‘It’s important for us to produce as energy efficiently as possible. Not only because energy is scarce, but also because we strive to continuously improve our carbon footprint. Reifenhäuser supports us with energy-efficient technologies,’ states Peyush. Huhtamaki operates its EVO five-layer line with a specific energy requirement of 0.31kWh/kg. This is exceptionally efficient considering that values above 0.35kWh/kg are common in the market.
Digital means transparency
However, Huhtamaki is not only striving for improvement in terms of energy efficiency. The company also wants to get the best out of production in terms of quality, productivity and material efficiency. It uses digital solutions from Reifenhäuser for this purpose.
The entire production at the Verulam site is connected to the middleware c.Hub, which connects all lines and peripheral devices and thus creates a ‘single point of truth’ for all data. With the help of ExtrusionOS applications, Huhtamaki can access this data, identify optimisation potential and derive appropriate actions. ‘c.Hub and ExtrusionOS ensures more transparency in our production. We can measure our overall equipment efficiency (OEE) and are now able to make specific improvements,’ Peyush adds.
Since the new EVO five-layer blown film line has been in operation it has been producing high-quality laminating film for flexible packaging very efficiently. In doing so, Huhtamaki can rely on reliable and fast support directly on site. Reifenhäuser established a new subsidiary in the Southern African region in July, to ensure more intensive support for local markets. ‘South Africa is an emerging market where we want to and will continue to grow as part of the Huhtamaki Group. This requires excellent technology as well as good support. At Reifenhäuser, we have found both,’ comments Peyush.
For further information and more success stories, visit www.reifenhauser.com.
Improving OEE with digital solutions
The c.Hub and ExtrusionOS Suite form a powerful couple. The c.Hub is a middleware that has been developed by Reifenhäuser tech start-up, RE: GmbH, particularly for the packaging industry. In a heterogenous machine landscape, it helps to reduce complexity, harmonise data and draw valuable conclusions for the optimisation of production processes – the ‘single point of truth’ for all data.
The c.Hub middleware serves as a bridge between different IT systems, applications and assets on the shopfloor, allowing them to communicate with one another seamlessly. In addition, it harmonises data structures and behaviour across different systems, enabling systems to work together more efficiently and provides a streamlined view of information and functionality. In other words, by integrating a middleware like c.Hub into production, a new level of transparency into the processes change to can provide new opportunities for optimisation and efficiency gains.
The ExtrusionOS Suite offers the corresponding applications. It includes tools for real-time data visualisation, analysis as well as optimisation to support in achieving maximum OEE. Customers can choose from different software bundles customised for different use cases and challenges in plastics processing.
‘We understand that our customers are looking for more than just the best application for one machine,’ notes RE: GmbH’s director of product and operations Daniel Kajan. ‘They need a solution for their entire production, no matter how heterogeneous it is. Our digital solutions therefore network the entire “mixed forest” of plastics processing. This includes equipment from different manufacturers, age groups and types, as well as ERP and MES systems and peripherals.’
For more info, go to www.re-digital.io
Support for local customers
THE Reifenhäuser Group has founded a new subsidiary in the Southern African region.
Reifenhauser Southern Africa started its business activities in July and will for the first time directly serve the countries Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa.
Managing director Mohamed Timol is a proven expert with over 30 years of experience in the flexible packaging industry, both on the customer and OEM side. ‘Together with the Reifenhäuser team, we will take Reifenhäuser’s sales and service offering, as well as our technical support, to a whole new level,’ explains Mohamed. ‘Our focus is on cost-driven efficiency and productivity. To do this, we have outstanding technologies that enable our blown and flat film extrusion customers to achieve more output at low production costs.’ Mohamed, who lives in South Africa, has been with Reifenhäuser for four years and knows the region-specific needs of customers like no other.
With the new Reifenhauser Southern Africa office, blown and flat film technologies are now directly provided in this region for the first time. In addition, customers will have direct access to all services and components including Kdesign products, a Reifenhäuser brand leading in cooling ring technology for blown films.
For more info, contact email@example.com or +27 60 848 9292.