Much of Lapack’s ongoing success in designing FMCG packaging results from the company’s in-house mould-making facilities, where moulds are manufactured to the highest standard using the latest design software and CNC technology.
And when it comes to product decoration, Lapack has a sound reputation for quality, thanks to its in-house multicolour Kamann UV printers and specialised label applicators, which can apply full wraparound labels as well as front and back labels. A prime supplier of top-quality self-adhesive labels to complement Lapack’s top-quality containers is Durban-based Uniprint.
Understanding the key elements of producing a successful pack is what makes the company tick – forming the basis for its own success and the success of its customers’ products.Container and closure design plays a vital role in the success of any product’s marketing, and Lapack works closely with customers to develop, trial and produce innovative packs to enhance each product’s competitive advantage.
Customers expect value-for-money packaging solutions at non-negotiable standards of quality – and that’s what Lapack is all about. ‘We strive continually to provide products that exceed customers’ expectations in terms of quality, cost-effectiveness and just-in-time delivery,’ Mark stresses, citing as just one example the latest MRP installation (see story on page 27).
And some words from suppliers
Lapack’s ongoing investments in upgrading equipment to keep abreast of latest international technology are evidenced by state-of-the-art blow moulding, injection stretch blow moulding and injection moulding technology to manufacture containers in sizes from 20ml to 2,5-litres.Playing a key role here are leading plastics converting machinery suppliers such as Hestico and Engel.
Hestico has been involved with Lapack since the company’s inception and has supplied any number of Uniloy blow moulding machines, Aoki injection stretch blow moulding machines, Electrotreat equipment, mould components, Maguire material blenders, material conveying loaders and ancillary equipment. The latest investment is a range of moulds plus an Aoki machine for a latest project to produce polypropylene jars.
Hestico has a solid reputation as an agent for top-quality equipment from the US, Europe and Japan. As Hestico’s Kelvin Mills comments, ‘The use of such leading-edge equipment means that Lapack obtains higher efficiencies and experiences less down time; and using the latest technology even “difficult” shaped containers can be manufactured – from raw material to finished product on the same machine – with a string of resulting advantages.’
Asked to describe Lapack as a company, Kelvin replies: ‘Lapack is a well-balanced business. Its well-established departments support one another, to ensure that top-quality products are manufactured and delivered to Lapack’s customers.
‘We go back a long way and it’s a real pleasure to have Lapack as a customer,’ he continues. ‘Our relationship with the Smith family is excellent and we enjoy working with them on their various projects – as a team we achieve great results!’
Another long-standing supplier of equipment to Lapack is Maritime Marketing and ENGEL. ‘We’ve had a successful relationship with Lapack for over 20 years and have supplied them with no fewer than 11 ENGEL injection moulding machines,’ comments Maritime Marketing’s Patrick Bracke.
‘We have also supplied Lapack with Rapid granulators and two Dubuit silkscreen printers.’
The ENGEL tiebarless machines are used very successfully on large closure moulds; and the Rapid granulators are used extensively in the blow moulding division. They are, says Patrick, ‘second to none’ so far as quality and reliability are concerned.
On the polymer front, Plastomark is Lapack’s principal supplier and, as Lapack is the leader in the production of wide-mouth PP containers, most polymer used at this factory is PP.
Moves to UV curing
When it comes to printing consumables, a major supplier is Chemosol, which has supplied Lapack with screens and related consumables for a dozen years or more. ‘We introduced the Marabu range of UV curing inks when Lapack started developing this decorating process ten years ago,’ comments Chemosol’s Dov Myers.
‘We supply a comprehensive range of products required to decorate bottles and other containers, including Sefar screen printing mesh, Kiwo screen cleaning and preparation chemicals, Azocol Poly Plus-S screen photo-emulsion and Marabu UV curing inks. In addition, we offer training, assistance with colour matching, screen preparation, print quality control and trouble shooting. All these services are carried out by our staff with support from our overseas principals, who regularly visit us and our customers.’
And how do these products help Lapack to achieve its aim of producing top-quality packaging, service delivery, etc?
‘We undertake to supply top-quality products and services from the world’s leading manufacturers,’ is Dov’s answer. ‘These leading brands offer products that improve productivity, yield the highest quality, and reduce downtime to a minimum, incurring the lowest possible production costs. In turn, Lapack can provide its customers with world-class products at economical prices,’ he adds.
‘That Lapack is a family run business is clear throughout the factory. The Smiths are personally involved in every aspect of the business, and their staff follow their example. We find it a pleasure to deal with such an organisation,’ Dov concludes.
Another valued supplier is Right Corrugated, which has been supplying Lapack for some 15 years, meeting the company’s requirements for various packaging materials, notably high-quality corrugated containers, to ensure safe delivery of their precious products.
Boosting JIT production
Martin van Blerk, Lorge’s Sage ERP X3 services manager, with Lapack director Mark Smith in the blow-moulding section of the Germiston factory.
LAPACK sets great store by using technology wherever possible. The company’s latest venture in technology has been the upgrading of its Sage Accpac accounting software to a state-of-the-art Sage ERP X3 system through business and technology solutions provider and implementer Lorge.
It’s not easy to set up a manufacturing resource planning (MRP) system in the plastics industry according to Mark Smith. ‘This has been a completely new experience for us, complicated by the fact that the plastics industry is never static with new demands and quality requirements.’
The sheer variety of the containers (PET and PP bottles, jars, spray bottles, etc) and their various end uses means that Lapack has to contend with a highly complicated inventory.
‘Having made the decision to go with the Sage ERP X3 software, we’re finding it easier getting into a paperless environment than we thought,’ Mark comments.
All users rapid access to specific areas of the system that they need and staff quickly became comfortable with it. ‘It’s so advanced yet so simple that it has made life easier for everyone involved. The changeover and integration went smoothly,’ Mark adds.
The overall goal for Lapack is to achieve just-in-time manufacturing. ‘We don’t see this as a holy grail because we’re already achieving significantly better integration with both suppliers and customers,’ Mark reports.
The on-line functionality of the software enables him to access the system via the internet wherever he may be. ‘I’m able to view the complete picture from a laptop or smart phone, see what jobs are on what machines, check raw materials stock levels and the status of completed jobs, whether they’ve been delivered on time or if there is a delay, what the cause is. ‘
In Mark’s view, Lapack has only scratched the surface and his organisation has yet to comprehend just how powerful the program is. ‘What we have got for our money is phenomenal, there’s just so much real value in it. The learning curve has been easy and gradual and it’s very affordable.’
The plastics packaging industry is highly competitive and, says Mark, every cent counts.
‘The Sage ERP X3 allows us to follow every order and ensure that all stock is used. We can also monitor staff performance, track the cost of every item down to the last cent, monitor by-products and recycle waste, which also improves our efficiency,’ Mark concludes.