Although a relatively new enterprise, its roots date back to 1937, and the founding of the Durban Bag Company, in its time a leading manufacturer of hessian and cotton bags, subsequently replaced by woven PP bags.
DBC Packaging was officially registered on April 1, 2001, following the acquisition of Durban Bag Company’s Wovens division by a consortium of former executives.
The four-man start-up team included Keith Parkinson, group MD and previous MD of Durban Bag; John Gerken, Durban Bag sales manager; Mike Koo, as production director, overseeing manufacturing operations at Isithebe; and Michael Parkinson as financial director.
In 2007, DBC introduced Fikza Investment Holdings, headed by Thuthukile Skweyiya, as its black economic empowerment partner, with a 25,1% shareholding.
Today, DBC comprises two distinct operating divisions: DBC Wovens (woven PP bags) and DBC Plastics (PE bags, pouches and sheeting).
Since DBC Packaging’s launch in 2001, the DBC Wovens division has grown exponentially. Led by CEO, John Gerken, it has remained a dominant supplier of purpose-made woven PP bags for packing fertiliser, milled maize, wheat, sugar and animal feeds, all manufactured in Isithebe, northern KwaZulu-Natal.
In early 2009, a new Starlinger extrusion, tape-line and weaving plant was commissioned, allowing DBC Wovens to produce top-quality woven PP products . With a continued drive to stay ahead technologically, the recent commissioning of an eight-colour KYMC CI flexographic press has enhanced printing quality, particularly for BOPP laminated bags.
Following a recent R&D project, the division is also geared up to meet the needs of the one-ton bulk bag market.
Quality investments at DBC Plastics
Established in 2004, the DBC Plastics operation has also grown beyond initial projections, and in 2007 relocated to larger, custom-built premises in Riverhorse Valley, Durban North. The division is steered by general manager, Bruce Pender-Smith,
and factory manager, Roy Haripershad.
DBC Plastics manufactures and supplies a wide array of purpose-made printed flexible packaging products, including bottom-seal and side-seal bags, back-seal pouches, form-fill-seal (FFS) sheeting, printed BOPP film, laminated printed bags, rigid handle bags, patch and loop handle bags, and valve bags.
A recently-commissioned Nordmeccanica laminator from Italy complements the high-quality print of DBC’s flexible products supplied to the food industry (PPM New Year 2011, p55).
The most recent investment is a state-of-the-art Onyx 808 eight-colour gearless flexographic press from Uteco in Italy, due for commissioning in August by local representative, Conequipt. With printing speeds up to 400m/min, the Onyx is expected to greatly enhance DBC’s printing efficiencies and open up new markets.
It’s equipped with Uteco’s P2P dynamic adjustment system to control printing pressure, a SprintWash automatic wash-up system and FlexoSmartPackQC, Uteco’s engineering platform for improved performance and profitability in quick-change flexographic printing.
For easy operation and high productivity there’s a ShopWare production management, control and monitoring interface and Kiss & Go, which performs automatic set-up of printing pressure for each new job. ‘The Onyx works by directly reading the printed colour on the substrate, using any type of printing sleeve and anilox sleeve, without the need for printed marks,’ explains Sabrina Tomba, Uteco’s marketing manager. ‘It reaches target printing pressure with high accuracy regardless of the operator’s capabilities. Consequently, material waste is considerably reduced, in comparison with manual printing pressure adjustment.’
Also included on the Onyx is a click and drag function that allows the operator, interfacing with the touch screen, to interact directly with the visualised image and execute the drive of the register motors, thus putting all colour units in register even when the press isn’t running.
Growing quality partnerships
DBC Packaging’s swift expansion indicates a serious commitment to extend its impressive customer base and to explore new market sectors. Investment in the latest production equipment goes hand-in-hand with investment in people and DBC Packaging’s team is highly skilled with broad experience in the flexible packaging industry.
As with any business, product quality is also dependent on suppliers’ quality and reliability. DBC has built strong relationships with suppliers and sees this as an integral part of its success. These include Sasol Polymers and MBT for the supply of PP and PE raw materials; Hi-Tech, Eagle and Colourflex as ink suppliers; Polyflex, Beith Process, Kiley Baker and Polymer Art as repro suppliers; and suppliers of printing and converting equipment such as Starlinger, Maritime Marketing, Conequipt, Burns Machinery and Technimac.
To celebrate its tenth anniversary, DBC hosted a cocktail party in the Presidents Suite at Kings Park rugby stadium, attended by customers, suppliers, service providers, and DBC directors, management and staff. Group MD, Keith Parkinson, took the opportunity to emphasise the company’s commitment to future growth, detailing a comprehensive investment programme that’s planned for the next few years.
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