Originally established with a single six-colour stack press, Packaging Consultants’ plant in Riverhorse Valley, Durban, has now been upgraded to include two gearless presses, which join three existing eight-colour inline presses, and a Reifenhäuser Kiefel three-layer extruder. The latter, capable of producing in excess of 400kg/hour of film up to 2,2m wide, joins the plant’s original Reifenhäuser Kiefel coextruder and other ancillary equipment investments.
Boutique bags and frozen food bags are core lines at Packaging Consultants, accounting for around 50% of its entire manufacturing capacity. However, with its multilayer capability, the new extruder is expected to open new high-value markets for films, particularly those requiring specialised technical performance. ‘We’ve always had a reputation for high-quality printing,’ comments general manager, Rory van Zyl. ‘And right now, we’re upgrading our entire production operation, with the implementation of a Barco BMS Plantmaster planning and monitoring system.’
Efficient systems planning
The Barco Plantmaster provides managers and operators with real-time visibility on all key performance areas allowing them to respond rapidly to changing conditions, to achieve operational excellence. The system’s planning board allows the most efficient routing through independent work centres and is seamlessly integrated with Packaging Consultants’ Syspro ERP system allowing rapid and accurate response to conversion needs.
Production accuracy and control is further enhanced with the installation of a scaling and barcoding system allowing for automated capturing and labelling of material throughout the various production processes. Overlaying all of these systems is an in-house-developed web-based platform that integrates the information from all systems into fast accurate real-time data that’s easy to access and understand at all levels of the organisation.
‘By incorporating accounting and planning platforms we create our own personal information system,’ explains Rory. ‘This platform will drive our “On Time In Full at the Correct Quality” (OTIFQ) motto, resulting in better output and, ultimately, overall service. We want our customers to feel it’s easy and pleasant to do business with Packaging Consultants, that’s our ultimate goal!’ he claims.
‘Very few flexible packaging converters have such a fully integrated system that is driven right down to the factory floor with touchscreen controls, scaling systems and real time production data capturing,’ Rory maintains. ‘It’s a very lean system with a high degree of information and this is what’s going to drive us forward. It has already proved successful at [sister company] Consupaq where, among other benefits, output has literally doubled.’
Keeping customers informed and happy is critical. ‘The system platform includes a highly-focused intervention, designed to address in-line problems straightaway, so we can solve them immediately. It’s also equipped to produce customer consumption schedules and planning information so that we can manufacture product according to off take,’ remarks Rory. ‘We’re on a journey at the moment and we’re making progress. Our production team has adjusted well to our latest projects and everything’s going as planned,’ he adds.
Addressing market trends
Recent significant investments include the latest Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H) Miraflex CM8 press. With operating speeds up to 500m/min, it features W&H’s press-operation and sleeve-handling knowhow, including ink and substrate management.
It’s easy and safe to operate and provides Packaging Consultants with extensive choices and add-on features for customised press configuration.
Packaging Consultants’ model also includes variants from W&H’s ‘Easy Family’: Easy View, Easy Set and Easy Reg. These systems set and optimise the impression setting process and register settings and provide automatic setting of anilox rolls and plate cylinders in the shortest possible time. This provides benefits such as fast production start-up, reduced start-up waste and reproducable settings.
Designed to be user friendly, with extensive automation and smart solutions, the Miraflex CM8 has taken Packaging Consultants’ printing operation to the next level. Huge improvements in production are already obvious. ‘We’re freeing up particular sections where bottlenecks previously occurred, and flow in most departments has definitely improved,’ states Rory.
He’s also quick to add that there’s an ongoing focus on innovation at Packaging Consultants and besides having the latest machinery and technologies, the company leverages access to advanced materials, particularly polymers, to achieve a market difference. ‘Through our group relationship with ExxonMobil and other major international polymer producers we have access to some exciting new materials,’ Rory confirms. ‘There’s a growing trend towards high-performance lightweight substrates, as reduced raw material use means less pressure on the environment and an overall reduction in carbon footprint. With these go improved performance on packaging lines and a lower total cost for consumer goods manufacturers. Globally, such companies are embracing eco-friendly outlooks and looking to converters for solutions to lower their environmental impact. Gauge reduction has been a gradual trend,’ he affirms. ‘There was a perception that thinner was weaker, but the market is gradually changing its perspective.’
His mind is firmly set on a bright future at Packaging Consultants and is immensely proud of the latest projects completed. Although the coextrusion department is already well equipped, he hints at another upgrade in the not too distant future.
‘Packaging Consultants is at the forefront of flexible packaging technology, but we’re up against stiff competition,’ Rory admits. ‘Therefore, investing wisely and building long-term strategic alliances is important and that’s where we need to focus our efforts.’Packaging Consultants T +27 031 5696100 www.astrapak.co.za