After the financing became available in November 2020, the specialist producer of injection moulded rigid plastic packaging for cosmetics and industrial products, set its investment plan in motion, according to the types of products it will be producing and the types of machines it will be buying. Teqal has, for instance, paid the deposits and forward cover contracts for five next-generation energy-efficient injection moulding machines.
Since the company’s establishment in 2017, it has expanded three times at the 750m2 greenfields factory in TradeZone One within the DTPSEZ. Now with a major five-year contract in hand and the IDC financing to build a 2 500m2 factory (with the capacity to double in size), Teqal has secured the last site for private development within TradeZone One. It’s located 0.5km from its current mini-factory, simplifying the project management and relocation processes.
According to sales & marketing director, Sean Kirkham, the project is progressing well. The facility building plans have been submitted and approved, the foundations are being laid and the power transformer installed. The management team has also finalised the types of high-end finishes required so that the working space reflects the creativity of the company’s thinking, production processes and design philosophy. ‘We’ve placed particular emphasis on fully-automated access and raw material handling systems. As raw materials represent our biggest cost, we’ve invested in a system that automatically issues the materials according to the job and tracks per job usage percentages,’ he reports. ‘The emphasis is on reducing staff handling of products to a minimum and training the highly-skilled engineers, toolmakers and operators that we’ve recruited so that they can add value to each project.’
Construction of the state-of-the-art facility – with an annual production capacity of 30-million packs or 90-million components – should be completed by June. This will enable the decommissioning and recommissioning of existing equipment, as well as the installation of new machines and automation systems in July, and full-scale production by August.
Prioritising evolution and environmental compliance
Despite 2020’s challenges, the Teqal management team decided to stick to its original focus and growth strategy while hoping for demand to ramp up. It was rewarded with record year-end sales, despite the pandemic. Sean attributes the company’s success in generating value in the personal care and cosmetics industry to the strategic registration of functional and technical designs and patents, in-house high-end packaging design and production, plus tool-making experience. ‘Also, we’ve always invested in top-quality financial, ERP and MRP systems, plus the design platforms, CNC and CAM/CAD design packages for the tools that form the backbone of the business,’ he comments. ‘The launch of several products helped secure customer confidence and enabled Teqal to redirect resources and utilise extra capacity during the Covid-19 lockdown to fast track four projects.’
The company invested substantially in high-performance CNC machinery that caters for the industry’s migration towards bigger cavitation moulds; an automated inline system for applying foil decoration to caps, jars and other components; as well as in developing Africa’s first 70% biodegradable cosmetics jar and the industry’s first full wraparound in-mould labelled (IML) jar.
Following PPM’s August 2020 report on these developments, and proving the IML jar concept to the market with a pilot production facility and production tool for the cap, Teqal is investing a further R10-million in IML capabilities. ‘Having sold the concept to several customers, we are now investing in Swiss and German equipment to scale up production significantly at the new facility,’ Sean notes.
The cosmetics industry is estimated to produce around 120-billion units of packaging annually, most of which isn’t recyclable. ‘The only way to change this packaging’s impact on the environment is at product level. Our biodegradable jar is 30% lighter than its closest competitor and uses 60% less energy to manufacture, reducing its carbon footprint significantly,’ he asserts. ‘Additionally, the bio-based material used to produce the external components is Seedling-certified. This Finnish certification verifies the product’s compostability according to European EN Standard 13432. If the components end up in the ocean, landfill or are placed in soil, they will fully biodegrade into CO2 and biomass, without leaving micro plastics behind.’
Sean adds that Teqal is committed to environmental compliance leadership. The company uses solar power, energy-efficient servo-driven equipment and solvent-free inks, making it easier to comply with the DTPSEZ’s audit requirements. ‘The monitoring process provides guidelines and benchmarks against which we can measure our progress. It also assists Teqal’s longer-term goal of ISO 14 000 accreditation,’ he concludes.