RAKO invests to expand portfolio

Things are moving on apace at RAKO – both internationally and locally. Gill Loubser relates the latest news from this go-ahead group

AS ALWAYS, a visit to RAKO Tamperseal’s Capricorn Park (Cape Town) site reveals news of fresh round of investments, and a smiling Uwe Bögl reporting yet another exciting year, and announcing considerably increased sales volumes for 2016 – over 30% up on the previous year’s figures.

But the story is much broader than just the South African operation – a new label industry powerhouse is being heralded abroad with the amalgamation of three regional champions – Germany’s RAKO and X-label groups and Brazil’s Baumgarten. This newly- established entity, which circumvents the world from Latin America through Europe to Asia and Africa, is built on the impressive track records of the three merging groups, already commanding strong positions within and beyond their home markets. Together, they operate 30 production sites across the globe, with more than 3 000 employees and over 2 000 customers, exceeding a turnover of $500-million/year.

Fernando Gabel of Baumgarten. Against that international backdrop, at RAKO Tamperseal in Cape Town business is brisk, even in today’s tough market; and investments in new technology are ongoing. ‘Our growth rate at RAKO Tamperseal,’ says Uwe, ‘is among the highest in the worldwide RAKO group.’

Second Gallus press

Two years ago, PPM witnessed the installation of a brand-new Gallus ECS 340 – the much-publicised ‘granite press’ – and Uwe has nothing but praise for its performance. ‘It has proved to be a truly remarkable press,’ he confirms. ‘Importantly,’ he adds, ‘it’s capable of converting a range of supported substrates including paper, PE and PP films, as well as unsupported PP, PET, PVC and laminated films, particularly significant given our position as the Western Cape’s only converter of self-adhesive labels, wraparound labels and shrink sleeves under one roof.’

Now this has been joined by a second Gallus press to meet ever-surging demand for shrink sleeves – a sector of the business that’s risen to account for some 50% of turnover. This second eight-colour Gallus ECS 340 is also designed for self-adhesive labels and shrink sleeve production and offers market-leading set-up efficiency. Further enhancing shrink sleeve production – and part of the current round of capital expenditure – is a new high-speed cutting machine from HCI Converting Equipment and a new high speed seaming machine from Faust Maschinenbau.

‘Thanks to these additions, we’re pumping out shrink sleeves in ever increasing numbers,’ says Uwe. Last year (PPM Sept 2015), RAKO Tamperseal introduced innovative technologies to further improve options available to label buyers – firstly, ground-breaking work to bring the concept of high-opacity flexographic printing to South Africa and secondly, the addition of metallic foiling, holographic foiling and pearlescent varnishing for shrink sleeves.

With the latest investment in state-of-the-art converting equipment, sleeves can now also be fitted with sequential numbering/coding and/or with hologram stripes as security features to protect brands from counterfeiting.

Uwe remarked that such developments, representing either cost savings, top level refinement of tamper-proofing customers’ brands are part of his company’s ‘growth strategy’.

Digital business grows

More news is the installation of a second HP Indigo press and ever-stronger move into digital printing technology, as run lengths continue to diminish, and demand for print quality, consistency and brand diversification grows.

Joining an existing HP Indigo WS4050, the latest HP Indigo is the WS6800 that delivers high productivity for labels and flexible packaging jobs.

In this, the local business has taken a leaf out of its holding company’s book! As reported last year (PPM June 2016), the German group purchased two HP Indigo 20000 and nine HP Indigo WS6800 digital presses, making it the largest labels and packaging deal in HP Indigo history.

The HP Indigo WS6800 is the flagship model of the Indigo WS6000 series, and features the latest Color Automation Package, a best-in-class colour-matching system that uses an inline spectrophotometer to match brand colours. With its liquid Electroink technology it’s able to match litho and gravure printing quality, delivering high-resolution images and perfect registration. ‘We can match brand colours using up to seven ink stations and offer a colour gamut reaching up to 97% of Pantone colors,’ Uwe remarks.Other features include a fade-resistant ink set, shrink sleeve inks with higher slip and inline priming for enhanced media versatility, opening up the market for flexible packaging for pouches and form-fill-seal bags. RAKO Tamperseal can now offer contract digital printing for short-run flexible packaging to other local flexible packaging converters.

‘With HP’s Mosaic software, manufacturing individual, personalised labels, shrink sleeves and pouches has become a reality, and we recently produced unique labels for a well-known local brand. This has made our press among South Africa’s busiest HP Indigo presses,’ quips Uwe.

He sums up: ‘These significant investments in printing and finishing technology and ongoing staff training are factors that help us to open new doors, not only in the Western Cape and South Africa but further afield. We now have customers throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and we’ll continue to grow our business by providing a more complete and competitive portfolio of products.’

Students shine in packaging awards

TERTIARY education students in the disciplines of Packaging Technology and Graphic Design celebrated their creativity in developing packaging solutions and concepts when the 2016 IPSA Student Gold Pack Awards were held at the Inanda Club in Johannesburg. They received their awards from category sponsors – Sappi, Propak Africa and the Institute of Packaging South Africa (IPSA), while additional special recognition prizes were presented by BMi Research, KB Labels, Kemtek, Nampak, PACKAGiNG & Print Media, Packaging SA, Shave & Gibson and Tetra Pak.

Although the judges don’t expect students to be packaging, design or marketing experts, they do recognise entrants who display an insight into the challenges of packaging and the interaction of the multiple disciplines.

Fourteen finalist projects went on to compete in the WorldStar Student Awards (results to be announced in the next issue of PPM). 

Packing a punch

Sponsored by Propak Africa (Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery), the Packaging Technology category is open to students enrolled in IPSA’s One-Year Diploma in Packaging Technology.

Project briefs required students to choose and develop one of three projects – to create specifications for sustainable packaging meeting the World Packaging Organisation’s Save Food criteria of addressing food waste along the supply chain from farm to fork; or to write packaging specifications for a very thin and fragile cut glass vase glass, needing protection from shock and pressure during transport and display; or to develop a gift pack of cosmetic personal care products for gym users.

Jubilant Gold winner was Jason Ricketts (IPSA Western Cape) for his stylish folding carton post-workout personal care gift set, which also won Project Three. Hot on his heels were Wayne de Kock (IPSA Western Cape) for his mushrooms in a corrugated pack – also the winner of Project One; and Sandhia Gounden (IPSA Northern Region) for her three-in-one, easy-to-peel cold meat pack.

As there were few entries and just two finalists for Project Two, no prizes were awarded, because of the difficult nature of this project.

Stylish, novel designs

In the Graphic Design category, sponsored by Sappi, students had three project choices – design packaging for a ready-to-eat breakfast brand that communicates its unique and appealing differentiator; redesign the graphics and packaging of an existing pack that’s weak/poorly designed, turning it into a big brand look; and design a promotional item’s packaging to promote its recycling or that of the substrates used for the packaging.

This category is open to design students enrolled at any tertiary institution, studying any form of graphic or communication design. They were judged primarily on mock-ups and design concepts submitted to indicate their design skills.

Overall winner in this discipline, and Best in Project One, was Lhente Strydom (Stellenbosch Academy of Design & Photography). Her expandable Futurelife carton was lauded by the judges for its well-executed ‘big idea’ that was carried through in the graphical elements and construction of the pack. Silver and Best in Project Two went to Tashalie Vorster (Design School SA, Pretoria), while Stephanie le Roux (Stellenbosch Academy of Design & Photography) received Bronze.

The Thinking Differently Award, sponsored by Nampak, went to Cherrie Olwagen (Greenside Design Centre) for her all-in-one Bokomo Weetbix cereal and bowl carton.

The Best in On-pack Communication, sponsored by Kemtek Imaging Systems, went to Tiffany Schouw (The Red & Yellow School, Cape Town) for Quarter Past Ate breakfast on the go.

Alpla: shaping its South African growth path

Javier Delgado, MD of Alpla South Africa, is taking on a new role as the architect of Alpla’s sub-region in the Middle East. Nici Solomon tells the story.

HAVING established an extrusion blow moulding venture, Alpla South Africa, in 2014, MD Javier Delgado is now handing over the reins in this country and taking responsibility for Alpla’s rigid plastics business in the Middle East.

‘Although I anticipated staying in South Africa for longer to develop our Kempton Park factory and to oversee the creation of new greenfield sites, we understood it’s easier to find a replacement for one plant in South Africa than someone who understands the Alpla culture in the Middle East,’ Javier explains.

‘My successor Grant Matthews started at the beginning of the month. With more than 25 years’ experience in rigid plastics, he’s very passionate and a good fit with our company culture. Grant also has a deep understanding of injection moulding and closures. This is important for our future injection moulding and PET projects.’

But a new general manager isn’t the only introduction planned for the local market in 2017. Alpla is launching its own dairy range for fresh milk and juice. ‘We have been working on this development for the past year and are in the final stages before launching these new bottles into the market,’ Javier states.

How Alpla entered the local market

Reflecting on Alpla’s entry into the local market, Javier emphasises his company’s modus operandi. ‘Normally, in a new country, we’d establish our own greenfield site, but we had limited time and had to find an existing facility,’ he says. ‘The old building was partly refurbished to meet our minimum standards; and we officially started operating in May 2014, when our infrastructure and equipment was commissioned. During June, we trialled machinery and moulds so that blow moulding production could begin in July. One month later, we were in full production.’

The Alpla group is understandably proud of this well executed three-month start-up process in a new country and received positive feedback from its initial multinational homecare and pharmaceutical customer.

During the next 18 months, Alpla gained additional multinational personal and homecare customers, enabling it to install additional equipment and increase its manufacturing operations to 340 days annually.

‘Our staff complement increased to 55 during 2016, including some outsourced employees, who we manage ourselves to ensure they implement Alpla’s policies,’ Javier continues. According to Javier, this leaner operation is possible because Alpla’s state-of-the-art technology allows high production output. In addition, the company follows a preventative maintenance programme and implements comprehensive analysis of reasons behind any downtime. This in turn allows the facility to tend to just-in-time deliveries.

Challenges and lessons learnt

Apart from the mountain of documentation needed to register a company in South Africa, Alpla was surprised by a general lack of trust.‘Overcoming this distrust has been challenging because we pride ourselves on being an honest company with an open door policy, engaging with people and addressing each problem that arises,’ he explains.

‘We were warned about labour issues and have improved standards through training. Some technical skills shortages were also evident initially but we overcame these by sending key production personnel for extensive training at European facilities.’

In addition to this overseas training, Alpla global experts along with Javier undertook broad-based training at the Kempton Park facility. ‘Very few of our senior managers had managerial experience, they were promoted from unrelated previous positions.

Although this provides a short-term challenge, the investment has resulted in long-term commitments from these managers,’ Javier comments. ‘One of the most important lessons we’ve learnt is projects take longer in South Africa, so as a company we have needed to adapt and redefine our planning strategy,’ he explains.

Javier confirms that more customers in South Africa are placing greater stress on quality management systems such as ISO 9001 and British Retail Consortium. ‘We also encourage our customers’ personnel to collaborate with us in terms of onsite training to improve various aspects of their knowledge. We believe it’s a win-win situation for both sides,’ he concludes.

It was Onset from the outset

Printshop Denver, established in 2015 as an associate company of the USS Graphics group, adds a new dimension to its business by expanding its digital operations and advancing its ‘campaignability’ offering. Susan Unsworth reports.

HAVING found the Inca Onset R40i UV flatbed inkjet printer commissioned at its Cape Town facility in early 2015 (PPM July 2015) a perfect fit for the company’s vision, the installation in December 2016 of an Onset R50i at its Printshop Denver operation was a no brainer for USS Graphics.

‘Our “campaignability” approach allows us to offer any product or service entirely in-house – from concept to courier – and encompasses all facets of print,’ explains USS Graphics MD, Louis Burger. ‘Printshop Denver brings this service to Johannesburg, where digital capacity was previously limited.’

This latest model boasts a 14-picolitre drop size, compared to the 27-picolitre drop size of the Onset S40i, achieving 1 000dpi apparent resolution for ultra-crisp images, fine lines, sharp text and smooth tonal gradations close to offset quality at speeds up to 640m²/h. Built using Inca Digital’s scalable architecture, the printer has a truly modular design that allows both productivity and colour configuration to be changed on-site to match altering business needs throughout the unit’s life.

The machine has a dedicated flatbed with a print area of 3.22m x 1.6m, and is designed for ease of loading and positioning with rigid materials, with a best-in-class capacity of 80kg and maximum media thickness of 50mm. The 25-zone vacuum table minimises bed masking, shortening setup times and increasing productivity. Dual registration points ensure accurate and simple registration.

Other features include Fujifilm Dimatix Q-Class printheads, and the availability of four, six or eight channels with lights and whites using Fujifilm Uvijet UV-curable inks for strong, vibrant, lightfast colours with great image quality and superior colour gamut.

Built for business efficiency

‘Onset printers are built with business efficiency in mind,’ says Fujifilm regional sales manager, Andy Smith. ‘They offer like-for-like print quality at higher throughput than any other UV inkjet machine. They also enable the production of high run length jobs, which until now were not viable for the inkjet process, and the Onset is sufficiently powerful to pay for itself in a short time.’

He also explains that the user has a choice of print finishes, from low-glare satin to high-impact gloss. Linear motors and vibration-free air bearings make for smooth and rapid positioning of the print carriage, achieving accurate ink drop placement. Dual UV curing lamps provide the option to print bi-directionally. The system can also vary the dosage to produce a range of print finishes.

The addition of a ‘machine setup files’ function allows capturing and repeated reloading of a huge number of variables, enabling operators to change quickly between substrates. Through the ReporterPro software, the user can view important aspects of the machine’s operation, including uptime, total prints made, ink usage and nozzle mapping. ‘This is a very useful function for owners and production managers who want to monitor productivity, especially where the operation is shift-based,’ says Andy.

Great growth potential

The decision to invest in added capacity in Johannesburg reflects USS Graphics’ confidence in the growth potential of this important market, explains Louis Burger. ‘We had very limited digital capacity in this region, with nothing specifically in place for the corrugated and construction markets, so were slightly lacking in achieving the “campaignability” goal. The purchase of the Onset R50i brings us closer to bringing the concept to life throughout the country.’

Printshop Denver can now expand its offering to the point-of-sale and point-of-purchase market, including the digital production of free-standing display units and entry form boxes.‘The machine opens new markets in terms of high-speed and high-quality digital print in both rigid and non-rigid substrates. It will also help to facilitate shorter litho runs, allowing our litho operation to take on more work,’ he adds. .

Printshop Denver and USS Graphics operate independently, but work together when it’s in a customer’s best interests. For example, if a customer in Cape Town needs urgent delivery of a product in Johannesburg, it will be manufactured in Johannesburg and delivered directly to the customer with no transit delays.

‘We believe we offer great service, pricing and quality of all printed products in our range,’ Louis states. ‘We’re excited to be able to offer a broader and improved service to our current customers and look forward to strengthening these partnerships. The market is moving strongly along a digital trend and we believe we’re well ahead of the curve, but we invite potential customers to judge for themselves by putting us to the test.’


Injecting efficiency, intelligence into designs

What are the driving forces behind injection moulding machine designs for 2017? Nici Solomon highlights standout features noticed at the K2016 exhibition in Düsseldorf, Germany.

IT SEEMED that every injection moulding machinery supplier we visited at K2016 was showcasing greater line efficiency and production economics through automation and Packaging 4.0, consistent and reproducible quality, and energy optimisation.

Among them, here are six key introductions that can satisfy the varying needs of South Africa’s rigid plastics packaging manufacturers.

Deep-grip, pinch-type handles the simple way

At K2016, Nissei ASB’s PF24-8B/12 machine was injection stretch blow moulding a three-litre oval PET container, suitable for fabric conditioner or edible oil applications, in a mould configuration of 12 preform cavities and four blow cavities, using a 1.5-step moulding process.

The container featured a deep-pinch, grip-style handle that uses custom-designed moulds and advanced moulding methods to form the handle by blow moulding alone. This means no handle inserter or injection moulded handle is required, resulting in a comfortable-to-grip container that Nissei claims is easy to recycle, cheap to produce and uses minimal energy.

Also demonstrated was a newly-designed neck orientation system – installed between preform heating and blow moulding – ensuring optimised material distribution of ovalised preforms and correct orientation of flip-tops or asymmetric caps.

For extra versatility, in the same configuration, the PF24 can be converted on-site to produce bottles up to five-litres; or it can be changed to 24 injection and eight blow cavities to produce bottles up to 1.5-litres.

By changing cavity configuration and moulds, it’s also capable of moulding up to 9 000 lightweight water bottles/hour.

High performance in a new dimension

Engel débuted its next-generation e-speed series for injection moulding of 310ml construction and DIY retail sector cartridges.

Patrick Bracke of Green Tech Plastics Machinery, Engel’s South African agent, was excited to tell us that the e-speed 500/90 allows cartridge decoration, using IML technology, which meets extreme length-to-diameter-ratio requirements.

Engel collaborated with system partners to make this possible – IML automation is from Beck Automation, the 16-cavity mould comes from Otto Hofstetter, and the labels from Verstraete IML. According to Patrick, cartridge production makes optimal use of the advantages of this hybrid machine, which has an electric clamping unit and a servo-hydraulic injection unit.

‘Moulding the long, hollow bodies with a wall thickness of only 1.2mm requires very high dynamics and injection performance,’ Patrick explained. ‘Very short cycle times are achieved, despite the relatively high total shot weight of 800g.’

A basic prerequisite for the high efficiency of the IML process is very precise movements of the mould mounting platen, which the Engel e-speed 500/90 ensures thanks to its all-electric clamping unit.

To avoid peak loads while operating at high speeds, even with high clamping forces up to 5 000kN, a specially-designed system stores the braking energy of the platen movements and transfers it back to the motor as needed. Patrick credits this integrated energy storage, which functions according to the flywheel principle, with allowing the machine to run with a relatively low and constantly connected load.

Productivity and speed go hand in hand

Sumitomo Demag exhibited five injection moulding machines under its ‘Electrified 4.0’ theme, underlining how each is designed to meet the opportunities and demands of Industry 4.0.

On this stand, the El-Exis SP 200 machine was marketed as the quickest IML packaging application at K2016, producing four decorated cups in less than two seconds. 
According to the company, the El-Exis SP 200 illustrates the highest available system productivity and maximum speed currently possible for the production of IML-decorated plastic containers. A high-speed extraction robot intervenes through side entry in the parting level, places labels in the stationary mould half and removes the four completed cups on the moving side.

During the past 20 years, Sumitomo Demag – locally represented by Demaplastech – has constantly updated technology. Today’s El-Exis SP 200 model features a clamping force of 2 000kN, improved energy optimisation and an OPC/UA interface for communication conforming to Industry 4.0 standards.

The company also used K2106 to demonstrate the capability and performance of its partners. The robot, gripper technology and injection mould were provided by Brink, the labels by Verstraete IML and the polypropylene by Borealis.

Integrated closure manufacturing

Husky Injection Moulding Systems introduced its fully-integrated HyperSync system that synchronises closure mould, machine, hot runner and auxiliaries. ‘Combined with intelligent features and networking capabilities that highlight Industry 4.0 level connectivity, the increased synchronisation of machine and mould processes delivers faster cycle times at a lower total part cost, with no impact on product quality,’ said Steve Lawrynuik, Husky’s president of medical and speciality packaging.

We’re excited about this integrated system, which features our new eIMC in-mould closing technology. This servo-driven technology provides a 20% increase in productivity, with nearly two seconds saved per cycle, depending on the application,’ he added. ‘It also allows for the safe overlapping of mould functions, providing precise, controlled closing of flip-top closures while still in the warm position.’

Steve went on to explain that electrification of the clamp, servo-variable pumping technology, and a regenerative clamp stroke combine to deliver an impressive improvement in energy consumption over competitive systems, while maintaining optimal part quality.

Cube technology reduces cycle times

Arburg’s Allrounder Cube series is available in two high-speed models with clamping forces of 2 900kN and 4 600kN respectively, ideally suited to the packaging industry.

This is according to Andreas Reich, senior packaging sales manager, who explained that the new cube mould machines are suitable for moulds with weights up to 16 tons. ‘They feature four servo-electric axes as standard: one for forming the closure, two for dosage and one for rotating the mould,’ he stated. ‘The injection units can be driven either hydraulically or electrically, while the core-pulls for ejection and further mould functions are always hydraulic. Thanks to short dry cycle times and dosing across cycles, cycle times can be reduced by a second and output improved by 10%.’

He went on to reveal that cube mould technology is of particular interest when several machines are required to meet sales volumes using conventional technology. ‘That’s because the cube mould’s four sides available for production and two parting lines positioned one behind the other offer interesting benefits – individual process steps, such as mould filling, cooling and part removal are implemented simultaneously. Other processes, such as insertion, assembly or esting can be integrated without prolonging cycle time,’

Andreas explained. ‘Twice the number of cavities are available with the same mould mounting surface. Thus, cube moulds can more than double output and reduce unit costs.&rsquo Arburg is represented in South Africa by Hestico.

Milacron set to disrupt metal can industry

Fresh from the first commercial sale of its recyclable multilayer plastic can with in-mould labelling from Verstraete IML, Milacron ran demonstrations of the Klear Can on its Ferromatik Series 280 machine, preconfigured for easy multi-component, mono-sandwich, cube and co-injection capability.

The machine featured an integrated Mold-Masters iM2 48-zone controller, IMD inspection system and CBW in-mould labelling automation and robotics. Converters can also choose from electric, hydraulic or hybrid drive options to meet their energy and performance requirements.

According to chief technology officer, Bruce Catoen, the Klear Can is poised to dethrone metal food cans for long shelf-life items such as fruits, vegetables, fish and meats, when the technology is taken up (in early 2017) by one of Asia’s largest tropical fruit brand owners. He described results of qualitative consumer testing – conducted in Asia by Nielsen Market Research – as extremely successful because the BPA-free PP/EVOH can allows consumers to see food quality at point of sale.

Bruce listed other main advantages as its ability to run on existing filling, seaming and retorting lines; and full recyclability. ‘After use, only a small amount of metal remains on the can’s upper rim, and the residual ring on the flange separates during the grinding phase,’ he explained.

Ferromatik Milacron SA is located in Germiston, Gauteng


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