FROM custom-built premises in Riverhorse Valley, Durban North, DBC Plastics produces a wide array of printed flexible packaging, including bottom-seal and side-seal bags, back-seal pouches, form-fill-seal sheeting, laminated bags, and valve bags.
According to MD, Michael Parkinson, DBC’s commitment to its ever-growing list of customers has resulted in continuous investment in the latest production equipment, which goes hand in hand with ongoing staff training.
The latest example of this commitment to top-class quality is the company‘s investment in a five-layer Reifenhäuser blown film extrusion system, which arrived and was commissioned during the height of the Covid-19 national lockdown.
Replacing an old monolayer system, this investment represents a technological leap for DBC as its four existing extruders are mono- and three-layer systems.
‘We pride ourselves on printing quality and we’re to able to produce films with higher optical clarity that will further improve the print quality of our customers’ world-class flexible packaging,’ he enthuses.
This state-of-the-art extrusion equipment also enables DBC to downgauge film, while maintaining the same or even better film properties, and to improve operational flexibility. It also allows the production of specific blends using different raw materials to meet changing market trends.
According to sales director, Rogan Robertson, these trends include a move away from laminates to single substrate monolayer films with the same barrier properties to meet the goals of recyclable flexible packaging within a circular economy. ‘Although some blue-chip multinational brands are already moving in this direction, quite a lot of R&D still needs to be done,’ he remarks. ‘Although raw material suppliers and their converting machinery partners are using different materials to produce monolayer packaging, they all seem to be on the same path and to be on par from a performance perspective,’ he adds.
Before the latest five-layer Evolution line could be installed in August, DBC had to raise the height of the extrusion hall roof by 1.8m to accommodate the extruder’s tower. The tower is constructed from pre-cut and pre-drilled local steel, according to Reifenhäuser drawing specifications.
This new line features the Evolution Ultra Cool cooling system to facilitate a high output rate of 450 to 550kg/hour, depending on final application and recipe.
It also features universal low-temperature barrier screws – made by Reiloy, a member of the Reifenhäuser group – facilitating consistently high output rates of a wide variety of polymers at perfect melt homogeneity.
Other notable features include a low-pressure, low-volume die head, rigid take-off unit, fully-automatic winder, and Smart software modules.
The die head ensures accurate individual and total gauge tolerance, a high output rate and fast job and polymer changes.
‘This system is much more user-friendly for our operators than our three-layer extruder because everything is operated from one screen. Its fast preset and changeovers are vital in enabling us to decrease downtime because every minute of production time counts,’ comments production director, Roy Haripershad.
Additionally, the take-off unit is equipped with S-wrap cooling rollers to avoid blocking, even at Durban’s high ambient temperatures; and the winder guarantees perfectly cylindrical film rolls through automatic adjustment of taper tension and pressure settings.
Smart software modules – such as gravimetric dosing, profile control, width control and energy registration – in combination with an intuitive HMI, ensure efficient, reliable and economical operation.
After its initial three months of operation, DBC will be able to calculate exact energy savings of this five-layer system compared to its mono- and three-layer systems.
Asked about the installation, commissioning and training process, Roy compliments Sabre Equipment’s two service technicians for ensuring that things ran as smoothly as possible.
Sabre Equipment’s sales director, Floors Coetzee, adds that the operators’ two-week training was facilitated by the link to Reifenhäuser’s Visual Assistance Cockpit in Germany via an integrated display. This display forms part of the software platform that provides operators with real-time instructions of what to do in any specific situation.
‘The app is one of many IoT solutions in Reifenhäuser’s Visual Assistance package to make its service portfolio available in digitised form,’ Floors explains.
‘Additionally, DBC Plastics has the peace of mind of locally-based technical support. We thank the DBC team for trusting in us, and we’re excited to start the extrusion journey with them,’ he concludes.