The investment in 2008 formed part of a strategy to position Mpact Corrugated as South Africa’s leading corrugated supplier (PPM Sept08, p18). At that time, general manager, Peter Smith, remarked that the new BHS corrugating line was ‘poetry in motion’.
‘Now,’ he quips, ‘we have poetry in motion – phase two!’
The description proves remarkably apt, as we watch the 1,8m-wide line purring into action at some 300m/min, and able to churn out 133 757 linear metres with an average speed of 278m/min in an eight-hour shift – a figure that’s verified by BHS Corrugated in Germany as a ‘world record’.
If one word can be used to describe this four-year-old line, it’s ‘performance’. It has proved to be a resounding success, and the latest enhancements are fixing the smile even more firmly on Peter’s face. ‘Thanks to German expertise and precision,’ he comments, ‘the corrugator has run perfectly from the day it was installed. And now we’re entering our planned second phase of development.’
But it should be noted that, apart from its inherent German precision, the remarkably high standard of maintenance at Kuils River has kept the original line as bright and shiny as new, making it difficult to tell the difference between the four-year-old line and the brand-new modules just installed!
Move to double-wall board
So what’s new and what’s this extra R20-million outlay set to achieve for Mpact Corrugated?
In 2008, the factory was expanded by some 1 600m² to accommodate the new corrugators, which were 90m long from linerboard in-feed to piled delivery. At that time, the line was complemented by automated conveying and palletising systems, underlining the company’s seriousness in enhancing capacity and improving efficiency.
Now, building further on this strategy, a further 20m has been added to the length of the line with the latest installations.
Additions to the wet-end include an MF-P module facer, fully- automated SP-X splicers, and RS-M reel stands with in-feed reel trolleys. Taken together, these new modules allow for faster flute changes, improved sheet quality and, most importantly, the production of double-wall board.
The new splicer on the double-back increases the splicing speed (350m/min) so that it’s not necessary to slow down the line during reel changes; and a second glue station on the existing G-UM glue unit has been installed to facilitate production of double-wall board.
Previously B and C flutes were produced at Kuils River, but thanks to this latest investment, E flute is now part of the repertoire and, importantly, with the additional module facer it’s possible to produce double-wall board in all combinations – eg EE, EB, CE, CB and EB flutes.
In addition, there’s a completely new bridge running the entire length of the wet-end.
These additions to the line, says Peter, are helping to improve the quality of the board produced – excellent flat board, using less starch, and using lighter liners to achieve the same strength board.
This all plays a part in Mpact Corrugated’s strong market drive into the wine and fresh fruit sectors, especially for export markets.
But it’s not only the performance of the corrugator and the quality of its output that Peter highlights. He praises, too, the high degree of co-operation enjoyed between BHS Corrugated in Germany and local agent, Dennes Engineering.
Howard Armour of Dennes Engineering pays similar tribute to the Mpact team, which completed construction and infrastructure work to facilitate the installation of the new modules. ‘It was this two-way co-operation that made the whole project so successful,’ comments Howard.
Focus on investment
The corrugated market is challenging, with continuing moves towards high-performance packaging, high-end graphics and retail-ready solutions. And as we’ve learnt in previous interviews with Ralph von Veh, MD of Mpact Corrugated, he’s adamant that the one way to stay ahead of the pack is to invest in technology to ensure world-class production.
This belief is embodied in the latest expenditure at Kuils River. Indeed, with upgrades ongoing throughout Mpact’s nation-wide operations, German-built BHS corrugators – considered by the Mpact team to be the ‘Rolls Royce’ of corrugators – have become the standard technology employed.
Aside from these continuing upgrades in technology and hardware, however, have been serious investments in meeting the highest possible industry standards in all disciplines – quality, environmental management, health and safety, and food safety management.
Recently, Mpact Corrugated in Kuils River undertook its first integrated audit to achieve certification to ISO 9001:2000, 14001, 18000 and 22000 standards.
Using one certification body, DQS, the audit was conducted in just four days.