He mentions, too, the inexorable move of consumer goods manufacturing to the Far East – a move that’s having a knock-on effect on local converters, for instance declining demand for litho laminated cartons for household appliances.
Facing this somewhat bleak scenario, S&G is nevertheless gearing up to take advantage of any market reorganisation, and is investing heavily in the right technology to ensure ongoing success and to maintain a competitive edge.
As always, the mantra among S&G’s management team is ‘keep blustering on’, as they face the enormous challenges of working in a non-business-friendly environment, amid gross political and economic ineptitude. But clearly they’re intent on taking measures to counter any shocks to the economy. As Simon remarks, South Africa has – somewhat miraculously at times – survived many peaks and troughs over the last four decades.
But in such a challenging situation, the only way to manage costs and maintain a respectable bottom line is to invest in efficiency. ‘We’re dedicated to remaining at the cutting-edge of technological developments,’ Simon remarks. ‘We will ensure that we always have the youngest generation of printing technology that’s available globally,’ he insists. ‘This way we improve efficiency by reducing material costs, minimising overheads and ensuring top-quality production.’
Against this intriguing backdrop, S&G has embarked on yet further expansions, not only acquiring a number of nearby properties, but also upgrading its already world-class converting technology, an investment phase designed to keep the operation at the leading edge, as befits its position as number three in South Africa’s folding carton stakes.
And the results are impressive.
First a tour of the factory reveals three significant additions to the equipment line-up … a Bobst Novacut 106E Autoplaten die-cutter, a Bobst Alpina 110 A2 four- and six-corner high-speed folder gluer, and a Brausse Jpak semi-automatic carton packer (all supplied by Beswick Machinery).
S&G’s latest Novacut 106E is, in fact, the second Novacut to be purchased for the Mobeni operation. The first was installed in 2010 (PPM Festive Issue 2010).
‘We have been so pleased with the first Novacut, that we’ve had no hesitation in investing a second machine to replace an aging Bobst 102 CER installed some 30 years ago! Despite its age, it was still running well,’ comments MD of S&G’s Packaging division, Dave King.
‘But the maintenance bills were starting to mount up,’ he continues, ‘and with runs becoming shorter, we needed to invest in new technology to gain the significantly faster makeready times and lower waste levels, such as those evidenced by our first Novacut compared to the old 102 CER.’
Bruce Beswick of Beswick Machinery also comments: ‘Interestingly, the Novacut runs at 8 000 sheets/hour – the same as the old CER – but the overall output of the new Novacut gives S&G a huge capacity boost because it’s much easier to operate and offers many features that assist with reducing job changeover time and make it easier to run at maximum speed. Bobst maximum speed is not just a number; our machines are really designed to (and mostly do) produce at full speed for 30 years and beyond,’ says Bruce.
The Alpina folder-gluer boasts a ‘full house’ when it comes to features. And again the operators are highly complimentary about its performance. It’s the fastest electronic four- and six-corner back-folding device yet to be installed in South Africa and is equipped with a ‘Kit Corrugated’ feature that ensures consistent folding results and minimises fish tailing and skew cartons, especially when folding litho laminated cartons. It’s also equipped with the very latest HHS Xtend 2 system for accurate and reliable glue application.
The Brausse Jpak semi-automatic carton packer is being installed behind S&G’s existing high speed Bobst Ambition straight-line folder-gluer, allowing higher output with less manual handling.
And world-class warehousing
Apart from the new kit, further significant spending has gone into infrastructure development. Recently-acquired adjacent premises (previously a tissue factory) have been transformed into a hyper-efficient warehousing complex.
This additional space has also allowed S&G’s two sheeters to be moved close to the printing hall for better workflow, as well as accommodating incoming materials and finished goods.
The 12.5m high warehousing section has considerably reduced the company’s finished goods footprint.
Here Acrow has installed its renowned Quick-Lock system of static pallet racking for a narrow-aisle function, and Goscor supplied a Bendi forklift that features amazing agility within a 1.9m aisle working capacity.
The team at Acrow had to take many factors into account when designing the racking layout, requiring the combined expertise of eight technicians/draughtsmen, working to meet the demands of the physical extent and layout of the area and also its height. Just one challenge was overcoming the uneven floor in this elderly building that was never designed for high-level racking systems! In the event, however, Acrow used specialised shim plates to level the racking and the job has been declared ‘a complete success’.
Now looking back on this latest round of investments, Simon is well pleased with the results …it has resulted in a better balance between printing and converting, and an ability to reduce the number of shifts being worked. ‘We can now offer our customers better lead times, improved flexibility and top quality production,’ he says.
But most important, in his view, is that S&G is keeping right up to date with emerging technologies. ‘If you miss out on regular investments, it’s almost impossible to catch up again,’ he insists. ‘We’re determined to stay ahead of the pack.’