Johannesburg-based labelling converter, Ren-Flex, recently partnered with two customers on their journey towards realising the packaging goals of launching an IML-decorated margarine tub range that ties it into a charitable cause, and personalised flower pots for special occasions. The company also assisted a logistics company in developing a tamper-evident seal that prevents diesel theft.
Most of Ren-Flex’s customers are from similar industries and are valued and treated with equal importance. CEO, Tommy du Sart, emphasises that Ren-Flex offers them the full basket of innovations and technologies while exercising complete discretion and honouring confidentiality agreements during development projects.
Sales director, Albe Naude, explains that when customers discuss product launches or a go-to-market strategy, the sales and marketing team highlights the personalisation and customisation possibilities that can be generated by HP Smartstream Mosaic and Collage software and virtual reality technologies to stand out on retail shelves, draw end-users’ attention, and create the possibility of brand interaction.
Albe notes that the winning formula is a combination of out of the box creative thinking in partnership with customers, variable data capabilities, artwork development (for instance, a continuation of different artwork across product lines or variants) and technical expertise.
Ren-Flex takes skills development very seriously because it cannot draw talent from the industry – it is the country’s sole IML converter. ‘Our training is done in-house, and as a division of the Ren-Form Group, we benefit from the apprenticeship programme that accommodates an average of 29 apprentices annually,’ says general manager, Dwayne du Sart.
As part of Ren-Flex’s mission to become South Africa’s leading in-mould labelling (IML) and shrink sleeve label supplier, the team always strives to deliver world-class innovations in print backed up by excellent service levels, says Tommy du Sart. ‘Adopting offset and digital print solutions has made Ren-Flex more flexible with quicker deliveries, and more efficient in terms of print costing. Our world-class die-cutting equipment is unrivalled and produces products with very tight tolerances.’
He adds that Ren-Flex is fortunate to have senior management with decades of printing and allied industry experience, who ensure that the company keeps abreast of technology developments. ‘In fact, we’ve recently attended the Labelexpo Europe and K2019 trade fairs, and are confident that we’re at the forefront of IML hardware and software innovations.’
Ren-Flex, he notes, will continue embracing new labelling converting technologies as they become available, and ensure that plant staff are certified by the relevant machinery supplier’s training centre.
The company, for instance, currently has 50% IML capacity available, and is in discussions with suppliers to increase productivity with new equipment. ‘We value our suppliers as much as our customers, and only select accredited ones that pride themselves in good after-sales support and in assisting with new product developments. This policy ensures that we are using internationally-endorsed technologies to produce top-quality products, which meet our customers’ desired outcomes,’ Tommy points out.
Benefits of IML
In-Mould Labelling (IML) is the use of paper or plastic labels during the manufacturing of containers during blow moulding, injection moulding, or thermoforming processes. The label serves as an integral part of the final product, which is then delivered as a pre-decorated item.
Ren-Flex general manager, Dwayne du Sart, explains that combining the decoration process with the moulding process cuts the total cost as no extra labelling steps or converting equipment are required, and in-house container inventory and container weight are reduced.
‘Customers also prefer the in-case product filling and capping option, enhanced on-shelf appearance, improved sidewall strength, and better squeeze resistance,’ Dwayne adds.
‘Unfortunately, the majority of South African brand owners still have their in-mould labels produced overseas because they have been apprehensive about the quality of labels that the local market can supply. This scenario was caused by several local converters’ products failing and causing excessive scrap rates in the past,’ he states.
Sales director, Albe Naude, adds that owing to the complex characteristics of IML production, Ren-Flex’s quality journey has evolved over the past decade to encompass the necessary processes, procedures, raw materials and final product tests to produce labels, which the team is confident are quality equivalent and/or superior to overseas suppliers.
When asked what the benefits are for the local market in partnering with Ren-Flex as South Africa’s sole IML converter, CEO Tommy du Sart, says: ‘Buying local is a no-brainer. We’re able to assist with urgent runs and can implement changes to existing products very quickly. Customers also don’t have to worry about any exchange rate volatilities. A good example is the Epic Foods/Reach for A Dream Foundation project, which was delayed by red tape during the label approval process. Ren-Flex turned this around in six days, from artwork sign-off to moulding.’
Ren-Flex drives collaborative campaign
IML specialist, Ren-Flex, has facilitated a collaborative project between Epic Foods, the Reach For A Dream Foundation and Pick n Pay, where R2.50 of sales proceeds from Epic’s 500g Canola Margarine tubs will go towards making the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses come true.
The initial print run of 150 000 IML tubs is being sold exclusively through Pick n Pay stores around the country from the last week in October, says Ren-Flex’s Erika Hearnshaw.
‘The project is a great example of Ren-Flex’s philosophy of partnering and working with customers on their journey towards achieving their packaging dreams,’ Erika asserts. ‘We always go the extra mile by assisting customers with design, brand development concepts and PR campaigns, which will help them to reach their desired goals. This often involves getting them to think outside the norm and stretch beyond their comfort zones.’
She explains that the Epic Foods project came about after meeting director, Nadim Hassam, who wanted Ren-Flex to create a fresh look for Canola Margarine’s new range launch and tie it into an initiative that gives back to the community and loyal customers, who’ve been central to the brand’s success in the last few years.
‘Nadim was full of ideas for a clean and eye-appealing look after reviewing margarine packaging trends abroad – one that will encourage consumers to proudly display the tub on their kitchen or dining room tables rather than decant the margarine into another dish,’ Erika states. ‘The Ren-Flex team was very excited about the opportunity to work with a blank canvas and to suggest Reach For A Dream, whom we work very closely with on Slipper Day and other fundraising projects.’
Erika explained the concept to Natalie Lazaris, Reach For A Dream’s head of business, who was thrilled about the potential of the Foundation’s first food brand-related fundraising project.
They then arranged a joint meeting to iron out the finer details of the campaign – choosing a colouring in theme as a way to showcase the children’s personalities and because it can be applied easily to the IML decorated containers.
Natalie Lazaris continues the story: ‘We set to work on identifying the children (ranging from three to 18 years old), who’ve had their dreams fulfilled, across the country, and would consent to be profiled on the side of the 500g tubs. The children spend a substantial amount of time in the paediatric oncology, renal and cardiac wards and were happy to relieve their boredom. They put a lot of heart and effort into making a positive contribution towards this awareness and fundraising project.’
‘Pick n Pay was very keen to join us after we pitched the idea alongside Reach For A Dream, especially as stockists of the Canola brand and based on each organisation’s family and community-based orientation,’ Erika reports.
‘The group has been a pillar of support to the Foundation over the past 12 years, as they have a strong understanding of our philosophy and the work that we do. From the Ackerman family down to corporate store level, the continued support has significantly contributed to the success of the Foundation,’ says Natalie. ‘In 2016, they furthered their support by becoming one of our retail partners for National Slipper Day – selling wristbands and slippers to shoppers in aid of the campaign.’ Erika emphasises that the synergies between the various teams enabled them to open up their hearts and bring the communication elements together to enhance community awareness around children’s illnesses.
Natalie adds that the campaign will be marketed across Reach For A Dream’s social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter) and will include the tags @reachforadream, @RenFlex, @Picknpay and @EpicFoodsSA.
A mailer will also be sent to the foundation’s database of 20 000 supporters. ‘We hope families will view the limited edition tubs as collector’s items and be inspired by the children’s stories.’
The launch will also be supported by in-store promotions and a feature in Pick n Pay’s Fresh Living magazine.
Reach For A Dream’s target for 2019 is to make 1 600 individual dreams come true – an average of six dreams a day across all nine provinces.
For more information on collaboration and Ren-Flex’s capabilities, contact marketing & augmented reality manager, Erika Hearnshaw (email@example.com).
Choose your one-of-a-kind pot plant
The second campaign that the Ren-Flex team is helping to launch in October – in collaboration with plant suppliers and selected retailers – are personalised flower pots featuring the Breast Cancer Awareness month’s pink ribbon in each unique design generated by HP’s Smartstream Mosaic software.
Group marketing manager, Erika Hearnshaw, explains that the supplier chose the pink ribbon because it’s a wellrecognised symbol for promoting Breast Cancer Awareness, and demonstrates that the company cares about this issue.
The project partners plan on changing the design seasonally and to tie in with special celebratory occasions such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to take advantage of the software personalisation and digital printing tools’ capabilities.
A Ren-Flex representative suggested this personalisation technology to the pot plant supplier, whose team gave him the green light after Erika’s presentation about how the campaign could look on the shelves. The supplier really liked the concept of consumers choosing the design they most preferred to go with the gift occasion or their own personal style.
Erika adds that the idea was inspired by the bay window in her kitchen, where she enjoys changing the plants around regularly. ‘Giving a special person in your life the gift of living plants, such as succulents or herbs to cook with, is an emotional and long-lasting alternative to flowers,’ she emphasises. ‘Plus the colourful digitally-printed pot designs – as an alternative to the plain coloured, red or black pot in circulation – most certainly cut down cuts down on packaging waste materials and create an eye-catching focal point that doesn’t need to be matched to a specific room’s colour scheme.’
The initial run of 5 000 in-mould labels was printed on Ren-Flex’s HP Indigo 20000, which is capable of running films (BOPP, PE, BOPA), shrink films (PETG, PVC, OPS), label stock (PE labels), pre-laminates (PET/ALU/PE), and paper.
Erika emphasises that the digital press’ variable data printing capability offers brand owners unprecedented flexibility in their packaging and marketing activities. Additionally, it matches the colour quality of long-run lithographic labels with the benefits of short runs and niche product/special event launches.
Mandy Williams, who has subsequently taken over the account, has been instrumental during the proofing process and taking over the intricate details of final planning and scheduling of the Mosaic potted plants. She is very excited to work hand in hand with Erika and the supplier on future creations and ideas.
The magic of Mosaic
According to Ren-Flex, HP Smartstream Mosaic software is still the most innovative variable printing and personalisation tool because it takes one core seed file and enables the creation of thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of label and/or packaging designs.
How does Mosaic work?
The software uses high-resolution vector PDF files as input. It then generates a large number of distinctive variations by randomly transforming the file, using scaling, transposition, and rotating the combinations. The resulting graphics that are generated produce endless variations of the designs, all within a common theme.
In this case, the plant suppliers and retailers narrowed the choices down from 36 base designs to six.
‘This pot plant project is the perfect illustration of how Mosaic allows brands of any size to achieve design variation on a massive scale, which makes consumers feel like individuals and entices them to interact with the brand’s packaging,’ states Ren-Flex’s Group marketing manager, Erika Hearnshaw.
As the first South African label converter to bring Mosaic to market, she adds that Ren-Flex is perfectly poised to help brand owners get the extra edge when it comes to creating the perfect labels in one print run.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and a representative will respond to find out how Ren-Flex can assist with taking an idea or concept to market.