The narrative played out against a backdrop of challenges met and overturned by Ricky Naidoo, the company’s founder, CEO and guiding force.Thanks to Ricky’s continuing investments over the years, Venk-Pac supplies high-quality locally-converted laminates, coextruded specialised polymers, as well as the usual PP, LLDPE, LDPE and HDPE films. This flexible packaging is offered (either flexo or gravure printed) for form-fill-seal (FFS) and pouch applications at prices that compete with imported products, thus providing all the advantages of purchasing within South Africa.
Products are as diverse as overwrap for the bedding and furniture industry, printed and unprinted shrink and pallet wrap, stretch and shrink hoods for product and pallet stabilisation, automated and manual bread bag packaging, plain and printed FFS materials for milk and food packaging, shopping and boutique bags, chicken, fruit and commodity prepacking bags, heavy-duty fertiliser bags, and SABS-approved film for the construction industry.
To produce such diverse products requires the use of numerous technologies.‘We have the expertise and the technological capacity to handle any plastics packaging order and, during an average day, we turn out some 72 tons of products,’ says Ricky proudly.And now he reports that by next month an additional 500 tons/month capacity will be added to Venk-Pac’s already-impressive throughput, thanks to his latest investment in brand-new extrusion, printing, lamination and slitting technology.Representing a massive R50-million-plus capital outlay, a remarkable shopping list is in the process of being fulfilled, including a Kirion three-layer blown film line from Reifenhäuser Kiefel Extrusion (Germany), which will be the largest on the African continent, a Windmöller & Hölscher Miraflex gearless press (also from Germany), a flexo plate-mounter from Sys Tec (Italy), a Comexi Nexus Dual laminator (Spain) and a Pelican Soloslit 3 Plus slitter rewinder (India).In addition, Ricky reports that a further turnkey project is on the go. While this project remains confidential at the moment, Ricky reveals that the new equipment – to be supplied by Windmöller & Hölscher – is due for installation at the end of November.Some of this new equipment is to be housed in a newly-constructed custom-built print/lamination/slitting hall that’s environment controlled with the intention of moving towards HACCP systems and FDA food packaging approval.
Venk-Pac and Kirion: two brand names, one common goal
With the purchase of its second fully-automated Kirion C three-layer blown film system – supplied by Reifenhäuser Kiefel Extrusion in Germany, through local agent, Ferrostaal Equipment Solutions/Printing Products – Venk-Pac has confirmed its strong commitment to serving South Africa’s flexible packaging requirements. Venk-Pac’s first Kirion line, installed in 2006, set new standards for industrial and general packaging films in South Africa but, more importantly, allowed Venk-Pac to understand, fulfil and often exceed customers’ requirements in terms of consistent film quality (both optics and strength), on-time delivery and competitive pricing.But even a state-of-the-art blown film line and the finest raw materials can’t succeed without the people operating the equipment; and it goes without saying that the line’s automation features must be self explanatory, easy to use, reliable and operator friendly. Venk-Pac has also invested in training of staff to provide customers with the true savings and benefits of coextruded materials.
The Kirion C and all the other modules included in this impressive extrusion line (pictured below) are designed to fulfil such attributes. These and other major technical advantages offered by the Kirion line – a wide process window to cope with differences between locally-supplied and imported raw materials, fast job changeover, etc – facilitated the choice for Ricky Naidoo and his team.This second Kirion line is even larger than its predecessor, allowing a maximum bubble circumference of 6 000mm with multifunction centre-surface and gap winding to provide excellent roll geometry for difficult materials.
‘The new line will also back up our first line,’ Ricky comments, ‘but most important it will further improve our quality, flexibility, reliability and service.’The entire team at Reifenhäuser Kiefel Extrusion in Germany is just as excited as Ricky about this latest installation. ‘We’re proud to accompany Venk-Pac on its successful path and wish Venk-Pac all the best for the coming years,’ comments Sascha Skora.
W&H gearless technology for printing excellence
Offering both flexographic and gravure printing, Venk-Pac already boasts six presses. On the flexo front and headed by German technology is an eight-colour Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H) Stellaflex CI press, complemented by an Italian six-colour Belioni CI press, one six-colour and one eight-colour Indian Pelican stack press, plus a four-colour Spanish Comexi stack press. Gravure printing is superbly executed on an eight-colour Pelican Solomark press.Now complementing this already impressive line-up is a brand-new W&H Miraflex eight-colour gearless, fully sleeved press. This press had its world première at interpack in Düsseldorf in 2008, where it caused considerable excitement among flexible packaging converters.
Then, four weeks later, it was introduced to the wider printing community at drupa, by which time W&H was able to announce several sales. Since then global sales of this press have been remarkable, with Venk-Pac being one of many in a long line of quality purchasers and satisfied customers.Demand for top-class print quality and the strong moves towards seven- and eight-colour printing, made it necessary for Venk-Pac to expand its print capability with an additional eight-colour press; and Ricky chose the Miraflex for several reasons including its large diameter winders, its high-speed, fast changeovers, and the excellent support from W&H in Germany and South Africa.The Miraflex AM features eight colour decks, a maximum material width of 1 290mm and a maximum printing width of 1 270mm. Production speed is 370m/min and print repeats range from 370 to 800mm.
The press includes a Turboclean modular wash-up system plus the latest technology in doctor blade chamber design.As Bruce Allen of Ipex Machinery and Simon Pollock of W&H South Africa explain, the efficiency of the Miraflex AM incorporating Easy-Set S, Easy-Set D and Easy-Reg technology ensures that make-ready time is minimised and startup waste is kept as low as possible.The Easy family operates both prior to press startup and during operation, eliminating the need for expensive off-press equipment.Easy-Set Static sets kiss print pressure prior to press startup followed by Easy-Set Dynamic which finds and sets optimum print pressure during press startup – simultaneously Easy-Reg sets print register utilising a single print mark. Another innovative feature is the sleeve type nip roller before the first printing deck which enables the nip roll to be changed easily and quickly facilitating changes from film to paper, or to tube production, quickly and easily.In developing the Miraflex, W&H designers, working closely with printers, paid great attention to what the demands of the most exacting printers.
The result is a machine of robust design, smart technology and top-quality engineering ensuring maximum output and a short return on investment.Nexus Dual, further enhancing Venk-Pac’s lamination capacity.The new model features a quick plug-in system, as the pressure cylinder is sleeved and removed from the side without the use of tools; and a locking-unlocking device that works with pressurised air. It also offers a high-performance drying tunnel to ensure vapour evaporation. Its air volume can be regulated and it includes devices for air recycling and solvent level control.The Nexus Dual unit features a chiller roller before rewinding that refrigerates the laminated film before storage; and the trolley for solvent-based adhesives is provided with a doctor chamber for in-line gravure
Lamination upgrade by Comexi
It was six years ago that Venk-Pac installed new lamination equipment – a Comexi Nexus One solventless laminator to produce a range of flexible packaging constructions, from standard and metallised films to lightweight paper and aluminium foil.
And now Ricky is investing again with a second higher-spec line from the same supplier. Explains Ricky, ‘There has been a global trend away from conventional solvent-based lamination, primarily to reduce odour and to meet legislative requirements for food packaging; and this trend is now being followed by local food manufacturers, especially for snacks, rice, frozen foods and confectionery.’The Nexus allowed Venk-Pac to compete with imported laminated materials. ‘A customer importing laminated products is never sure what method was used for lamination and is increasingly recognising us as a viable and cost-effective local supplier,’ he comments.The second lamination line, being installed by local agent, Advanced Packaging Technology, is a printing, adhesive and cold seal application in register, with a motorised nip and a photoelectric cell. The system is controlled by advanced electronics.
The laminating group is composed of a heated steel cylinder, an additional cylinder coated with a high-density rubber layer, and a third cylinder that provides pressure against the other two, guaranteeing the absence of air bubbles. Pneumatic compensators installed in the unwinder and rewinder allow consistent and accurate tension control at all times which guarantees proper unwinding for customers’ high-speed FFS and flow-wrap applications without risk of delamination.Pelican is represented in South Africa by Adex Plastics & Machinery, whose MD, Paul Clark, has enjoyed a long association with Ricky Naidoo. ‘Ricky has such a positive outlook and vision for his business that it has been a pleasure to work with him,’ Paul comments. ‘The progress of his company, thanks to his hard work and diligence, always keeps me amazed. Even after a recent fire destroyed the warehouse, I visited Ricky and witnessed his positive action to have it rebuilt. Adex has supplied numerous machines to Venk-Pac over many years, and doing business with Ricky has always been a pleasure.’
Slitting by Pelican
Among the current line-up of five slitting machines are two featuring top-class Indian technology from Pelican. In October, these will be joined by the latest-generation Soloslit 3400 from Pelican. While the flexible packaging industry places great importance on printing and laminating machinery to achieve high standards, it’s clear that that slitting technology plays an equally vital role in providing a top-quality product. For the end user to run product successfully on high-speed FFS, wraparound label and flow-wrap machines, the demand is for precisely slit reels and, most importantly, consistent tension from beginning to end, to ensure smooth unwinding on high-speed machines, and to eliminate waste and downtime. Pelican recognises these needs and constantly updates its technology by understanding converters’ requirements as well as those of downstream brand owners.
The purchase of a brand-new Soloslit 3400 fulfils Venk-Pak’s aim of adding value throughout the supply chain.The Soloslit 3400 is load-cell based with servo-driven tension controllers on rewinders, and a closed-loop system that provides accurate and consistent tension from start to end of slit reels. Among its numerous features are a differential shaft with the latest Siemens Simotion control for high accuracy and precise tension-controlled winding quality – even with highly-sensitive substrates (such as thin BOPP for wraparound application, LDPE, polyester, etc). This robust, heavy-duty machine features vibration-free operation even at speeds as high as 500m/min. Its touchscreen operator interface boasts intelligent software functionality, with recipe memory recall of all previous jobs for consistent reproduction.
Bags by Hudson-Sharp, Gunter, and more . . .
When it comes to bag and pouch making, Venk-Pac boasts 22 machines, all servo driven in keeping with the latest technology.
Venk-Pac’s policy is to constantly replace older machines with faster more technically advanced machines. In September 2008, this policy saw the installation of a Vega Plus wicketer bag machine for production of chicken and bread bags, supplied by Mamata in India; and two side-seal Gunter machines (one 1 400mm and one 1 200mm) both with driven tension controllers, in-line folders and punches for production of chicken and boutique bags, supplied by Technimac.There are also two new high-speed vest type carrier bags machines supplied by Cosmo Machinery.Yet more investment has gone into bag-making and folding equipment to produce point-of-sale PP display bags with printed header cards and euro slots, and for producing mist-free bags for prepacked fresh fruit and vegetables.Other capabilities include off-line folding and gusseting to enable print inside the gusset for enhanced marketing and advertising.
Continued growth and demand for high-quality bags have caused Ricky to make further investments – in a new Hudson-Sharp 5750W wicketer with hot pin tear off and square bottom attachments, three more new Gunter bag makers featuring side and bottom sealers, and a new Hemingstone side sealer for loop and patch handles – all of which are now commissioned.
Transparency, cost containment and risk management
Given today’s demanding market conditions and economic pressures, Ricky and his team have realised that they need more strategic approach to customers. This, he explains, is based on closer collaboration with customers to enhance the concept of added value, way above simply supplying packaging materials. In support of this vision, Venk-Pac’s collaborative approach continually adds value for the company’s customers through totally transparent cost management and cost containment; through resource allocation and focus to consistently maintain expected quality and performance requirements; and through active participation in potential optimisation initiatives – continually improving critical factors of packaging materials, including quality, performance, cost and stock holding management.
Venk-Pac also realises and acknowledges the importance of managing supply risk. ‘Our operations and infrastructure layout have been carefully designed with contingency and risk management in mind,’ Ricky stresses.‘The design and layout of our facility consists of five separate buildings all on Venk-Pac premises to cater for disaster and risk management. Our production layout is tactically separated by having two extrusion halls, two lamination halls, two slitting halls, two printing halls and two bag-making halls. These halls are distributed throughout our various buildings for minimised risk, yet maintaining efficient production flow,’ Ricky explains.
Ever-increasing market share
It has been Venk-Pac’s policy to purchase leading-edge equipment from the world’s top suppliers before seeking additional market share.
‘With our additional capacity becoming available by the end of October, we commenced marketing this capacity in July,’ Ricky says. ‘What we discovered was shocking! Customers we hadn’t previously approached, because of our lack of capacity or because they were under contractual supply agreements, or where doors had previously been closed to us for unknown reasons, were being completely “ripped off” by their suppliers,’ Ricky contends.‘In most instances, our prices were some 30 to 35% lower and, in a few cases, even 50% lower.
Although it’s difficult to believe that some of the companies surveyed are large corporates, who should be privileged customers, one only has to look at their suppliers’ overhead structures in relation to the products sold. As a privately-owned company, we maintain a low overhead structure – despite being one of the best-equipped flexible packaging operations in the country – while remaining personally involved, service orientated and offering unparalleled quality.
How Venk-Pac got its name
ALTHOUGH Ricky Naidoo established Venk-Pac in September 1998, the story really started three decades earlier – in 1967 – when Ricky’s father, Venketes Naidoo (a retail grocer with a Standard 6 education), started an operation called Royal Plastics & Poly Products to manufacture Africa’s first plastic drinking straws. The success of this initial venture led to the company’s expansion into injection moulding and film extrusion. Keen to follow in his father’s footsteps, matriculating at 16, young Ricky departed to study a five-year course in Polymer Science in the UK. Armed with this qualification, Ricky returned to South Africa and was immediately tasked with the technical and marketing management of Royal Plastics. Together with the technologists from what was then Polifin, Ricky was instrumental in Royal Plastics being one of the first South African flexible packaging converters to convert linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) in 1981.
Sadly, Ricky’s father died in August 1997. It was at this point that Royal Plastics started to come under increasing pressure to provide film wider than 1m which led, in turn, to the purchase of a 2,8m wide CMG extruder and the establishment of the new company.‘I named the company Venk-Pac after my late father, Venketes Naidoo, in memory of his extraordinary entrepreneurship – which went totally unrecognised in the plastics industry– for the development and manufacture of the first plastic drinking straws in South Africa,’ Ricky explains.
And now there’s a third generation involved in the Venk-Pac business: Ricky’s son Diveshen Naidoo is now a director of the company. He’s seen below presenting his father with a model of the new Kirion C three-layer blown film extrusion system, made especially by Reifenhäuser Kiefel Extrusion as a birthday gift for Ricky.