However, the bad news is that propellants, LPG and butane are under threat of an arbitrary price hike, resulting in the continued slow growth rates that are tainting the aerosol filling sector.
Another adverse impact is the damage caused by certain imports, specifically relating to non-compliance and unfair trading practices. The AMA has taken action by listing the sector as a ‘beleaguered industry’ with SARS to enable regulators, inspectors and law enforcers to focus specifically on the short measure challenges of these imports.
In 2012, the total aerosols market decreased marginally in unit terms to 259 250-million from 261 567-million in 2011. This, according to the AMA, was due to technical adjustments that affected the car care and deodorant sectors, as well as imports making headway in a number of categories.
A few statistical highlights include local production showing 1.6% growth from 240 570-million units in 2011 to 244 450-million in 2012. Imports (filled) show 57% growth from 21 005-million to 33 110-million for the same period; and exports (filled) remained constant at 18.2 million in 2012.
[Ed’s note: Statistics sources: Industry estimates (AMA Statistics Working Group), SARS trade statistics and DTI trade statistics 2011 and 2012.]
All about aerosols
In July last year, Indigo Brands opened a new aerosol manufacturing facility to support growing demand in the deodorant sector. Emma Dawson describes the line’s capabilities.
In the last financial year, Indigo Brands’ two production facilities in Cape Town produced 57-million units (79% of which were aerosols) and maintained its position as the market leader for female deodorants and second place in the male category. To cope with growing demand, Indigo Brands has now installed a new aerosols line at its Epping plant.
‘Our new aerosols line represents the most modern aerosol production technology in the world,’ explains Ghaliep Dollie, aerosol unit manager at Indigo Brands.
‘The plant is equipped with the highest spec equipment and safety standards,’ he adds.
The new Pamasol filling line is impressive. Empty cans are loaded into a three-stage-in-one monobloc system at a rate of 250 cans/min, with a maximum can size of 250ml. ‘The line offers greater capacity than we previously had, which stands us in good stead as we continue to grow,’ Ghaliep points out.
The machine has two turrets to facilitate quick changeover (under five minutes for the same can size), and it’s worth noting that the line runs at the same speed on just one turret.
Valves are dropped into the cans before being conveyed to a crimping station for a hermetic seal before proceeding to a gassing booth where a 12-head gasser fills cans with propellant.
Once this process is complete, cans are conveyed to an integrated Mettler Toledo weigher. ‘This inline checkweigher weighs the entire population (for over and under filling) to ensure our stringent safety standards are met,’ Ghaliep explains.
Another safety check, and the next step in the process, is a waterbath test. Again, the entire population of filled cans is subjected to this global industry standard leak detection test. Eight groups of heating elements heat the water to 55°C before cans are submerged for three minutes to test for leaks.
Indigo Brands is ISO 9001:2008 accredited and its safety systems are approved by the Automatic Sprinkler Inspection Bureau (ASIB).
With safety checks at this stage of the process complete, cans are moved down the line to a capping machine for cap/actuator assembly.
End-of-line equipment is predominantly from Pester Pac Automation (Germany) and includes a high-speed six-pack shrink wrapper with an automatic splicer that ensures the machine keeps running, even during roll changeover. From a safety perspective, an automatic ‘quick out’ system ensures product doesn’t remain in the heat tunnel in case of a power failure. ‘This machine has built-in safety galore,’ Ghaliep enthuses. Another feature is a blast of compressed air to push products out of the heat tunnel should the belt break.
A Markem Imaje (locally supplied by Pyrotec) six-pack barcode labeller is next on the line followed by a Pester Pac case packer/palletiser and Markem carton labeller. Here robots (Kuka) are employed to pick up full cartons and load them on to a dual pallet station, all the while maintaining line speeds of 250 units/min.
‘This new facility offers optimised costs, increased capacity, process control, waste elimination, flexibility and all highly-specialised safety controls,’ Ghaliep happily concludes.