IT’S exactly a year since we recorded a visit to Morgancoat’s new 8 000m2 premises in Pinetown (KZN) – at that time still work in progress – where joint shareholders, Richard Morgan and Marc Black, were thrilled to show us around and reveal their ambitious plans for the future. Those plans included their imminent participation (as South Africa’s first-ever exhibitor) at Labelexpo Europe in September 2019, in order to promote Morgancoat’s self-adhesive labelling substrates to a wider audience.
The company’s Labelexpo stand in the centre of hall five at the Brussels Expo, ably manned by a robotic cocktail-pouring barman, certainly proved popular, and the experiment was an undoubted success – so much so that exhibiting at future events is likely to become a permanent fixture on the Morgancoat calendar.
‘From a local perspective, there was value in illustrating that we’re more than comfortable competing with the multinationals; and we had great interest from potential export customers, eager to deal with an agile owner-managed business with a personality,’ comments Marc Black.
In the meantime, Morgancoat’s newly-renovated world-class facility in Pinetown has been outfitted with a core focus on technology, staff welfare and customer entertainment.
‘From an equipment perspective, we’ve evolved from self-built equipment and have invested in six brand-new pieces of kit: a high-speed fully-automated hotmelt coating line; a speciality coating line capable of running five different adhesive combinations; and four new slitting machines,’ explains Richard Morgan. He also reveals that Morgancoat is applying for additional accreditations and implementing a specifically-designed quality management system to meet the needs of the company and its customers.
Utilising South Africa’s abundant sunshine, the roof of the new factory features full solar capabilities.
Sustainability is the key
Thanks to quick action, Morgancoat is thriving in these challenging times. ‘Output has been maintained and even increased in certain areas where we’ve assisted new customers in tight spots caused by unforeseen demand,’ Richard says. ‘Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, we’ve also ensured the well-being of staff by paying salaries in full – even to those unable to work,’ he adds.
‘As the world settles into the new normal, sustainability is the key, and companies are forced to prioritise localisation – forming strategic partnerships with local suppliers – and that’s where we believe we can add real value,’ Richard continues.
‘We have a positive belief in the future of our industry, our company and our dynamic team – we’re more than prepared to navigate the turbulent economic climate and current challenges in South Africa. In short, we’re proudly South African and here to stay,’ he insists.
As part of this sustainability drive, full solar capabilities are installed on the roof of the renovated factory, providing 180kWh – enough to run the energy-efficient plant during daylight hours. A generator system is also installed to ensure uninterrupted production during load-shedding.
In a parallel development, MorganTech (a dormant Morgancoat sister company) has been revived, and, following the appointment of three software developers, an industrial designer and a specialist fabricator, is well on the way to completing the design and manufacture of automated material handling equipment.
As part of this venture, an automated reach truck with integrated reel-turning equipment and automated guided vehicles with roll-loading capabilities are set to turn the Morgancoat factory into a ‘smart plant’. (More news is promised regarding MorganTech’s automation developments in a future edition of PPM.)
Further news is the development of a customer interface/app for order placing, on-demand transaction history and document extraction. Again, this will be the subject of a further news release in due course.
Showing off MorganTech’s latest in-house robotic innovation are Tom van den Bon (software developer) and Dewet Groenewald (industrial design engineer).
Over the last 12 months, Morgancoat has spent much time and resources on its B-BBEE accreditation. ‘We expect to be confirmed at least as a Level 3 contributor,’ Richard reports.
The new premises also include a fully-equipped canteen/eatery, where personnel are provided with healthy, balanced meals – whether snacks or a full lunch – while providing an opportunity for management, administration and factory staff to eat together, fostering an all-inclusive culture. It’s also designed to facilitate visits by customers, suppliers and end-users, for informal lunch meetings, more formal functions, and customer training workshops.
Additional entertainment facilities include a lounge, a bar and outdoor braai/pizza area, while an on-site gym encourages staff to follow a healthy lifestyle.
As Marc Black quips: ‘All these facilities in a fit-for-purpose venue at the very place where sticky paper is made! This business is certainly going places and is definitely the place to be.’