And when it comes to capacity, the integration of Astrapak’s Saflite operation into the Pouch Dynamics line-up – now featuring 11 high-tech pouch-making lines – the ability to supply some 14-million laminated pouches/month surely propels Pouch Dynamics to the top spot among South Africa’s producers of laminated pouches.
As more and more players enter the pouch-making arena, especially at the lower end of the market, where there are minimal barriers to entry, Heinz explains that his business is increasingly moving upmarket with its products and technology, particularly finding ways to add value.
Just one example of adding value was the recent investment in an automated inline label applicating system, allowing small- to medium-size manufacturers to purchase pre-labelled bags as a cost-effective alternative to printed bags. ‘This inline application of self-adhesive labels eliminates the time-consuming process of manual labelling and ensures that labels are applied quickly and in perfect register,’ Heinz remarks. ‘It’s also a great service for packers requiring short runs.’
A bag within a bag
A recent brainchild is a bag-within-a-bag concept, aimed at the market for bulk laminated bags, such as 5kg bags for pet food, fertiliser and chemical products.
This clever concept, Heinz explains, allows the considerable downgauging of the polyethylene layer of a typical PET/metallised PET/PE coextruded barrier material.
In this case, Heinz has designed an inner PE layer that’s not laminated to the other layers; it’s included as a loose inner layer. This not only saves raw material and lamination costs, which Heinz estimates at about 10%, it also adds flexibility and improved strength thanks to the additional air cushion included in the construction.
‘Our initial trials have been successful,’ Heinz reports, ‘and we can expect to see this concept being commercialised in the very near future.’
Automatic spout insertion
Further unpacking recent developments, a tour of the factory (now BRC accredited) includes an inspection of the recently-installed automated spout insertion system. Capable of inserting more than 300 000 spouts/month, and featuring fast changeovers from one spout to another, means the process is ten times faster than manual insertion.
‘We’re able to achieve a superior seal thanks to our multi-station sealing operation, and we’re also attaining a more consistent, high-quality seal than was possible when the line was semi-automated,’ he adds.
Another significant breakthrough is that standard spouts in a variety of sizes are now locally manufactured, reducing lead time, avoiding exchange rate volatility, and opening the way for ever-more innovative projects, such as refill packs.
Other than quality, a major imperative is precision engineering to ensure consistently functional and reliable closures. Local supplier meets these exacting standards and spouts are competitively priced.
Aside from offering spouted pouches in an amazing number of different shapes and sizes, Pouch Dynamics offers an array of pouch opening and resealing technologies.
One, an easy-open pouch, incorporates is a peelable strip. Opening is facilitated by two easy-pull ‘ears’ and it’s an affordable option as the strip only runs across the top of the pack, not around all sides (as is often the case with overseas packs).
Yet another example is two-compartment, perforated twin pouch that can be used to pack on-the-go convenience food – for instance muesli and yoghurt, or soup and croutons. In fact, this pack is already in use by the mining sector for packing smart meals for miners – one half contains the liquid and the other the powdered food product such as Future Life.
Resealability on parade
When it comes to closures, Pouch Dynamics has made exciting inroads with value-added options. These include a resealable zipper for BOPP bags, such as those used for prepared vegetables; and a transverse zipper, predominantly used for bulk packaged pet food, that’s inserted into gusseted bags to provide convenience and resealability.
Providing a grand finale to this pageant of pouches is a bag with a Velcro-type zipper. ‘These closures have two major benefits, Heinz explains. ‘They’re ideal for powdery products that tend to contaminate regular zippers, and they always close, irrespective of the zipper’s alignment. With a regular zipper, you have to start pressure from one end or the other, but with this Velcro zipper you can start anywhere along its length,’ he concludes with a happy smile.
In the face of these ongoing innovations, the plant’s increased capacity, investments in automated spout insertion and inline labelling technology, not to mention the recent BRC accreditation, it’s clear that Pouch Dynamics is continuing to act out its moniker – dynamic in name and dynamic in nature!