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Article by Packaging and Print Media - Karen Stretch 13 May 2013

Nampak Flexible raises the roof to achieve top-class multilayer films

Investment in the latest Windmöller & Hölscher seven-layer coextrusion line has opened up exciting new markets for Nampak Flexible.

Nampak’s diverse packaging businesses are respected across Africa for superior product quality and innovation; and the group retains its leading spot through investment in best-qualified people and world-class production equipment.

At Nampak Flexible in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, they’ve literally ‘raised the roof’ to install the very latest Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H, [Status]) seven-layer coextrusion line. It’s the first of its kind in South Africa and the most technically advanced extruder in the African market.

Already home to several modern single- and three-layer blown film lines, the Pinetown site is the main hub for the production of food and other high-end flexible films.

According to Clinton Farndell, Nampak Flexible MD, W&H has proved the perfect partner to meet the division’s future growth needs. ‘We’re very familiar with W&H’s quality processes, with our existing lines, so when we embarked on this project we consulted with Bruce Allen, MD of Ipex Machinery (W&H’s southern African representative, [Status]), and Simon Pollock, W&H’s South African area sales manager, to deliver a blown film line that meets our requirements,’ he remarks. ‘The top-of-the-range seven-layer coex line was chosen for a number of reasons. We needed to increase production capacity and address market demand for speciality high-barrier film and laminates, specifically in the meat, dairy and high-end food sectors. We couldn’t achieve the latter on our existing machine, so the new line has given us the freedom to improve our product offering and deliver world-class multilayer and laminated formulations.’
Delivering quality every time

The towering W&H film line, which stands 18m tall, makes for an imposing sight in Nampak’s pristine production hall. ‘We literally has to “raise the roof” to fit in the top section of the tower!’ declares general manager, Anand Padayachee. ‘From day one it has delivered the highest-quality lightweight film at up to 550kg/hour, with a low carbon footprint and minimum waste. We’re now able to secure a 3% gauge tolerance, which is really something.’

Standard features include W&H’s patented Maxicone seven-layer die, designed to handle even the most extreme layer ratios. By ensuring consistent control of the melt temperature it minimises film gauge tolerances and maximises film quality at high output rates. Other core elements are gravimetric throughput control, internal bubble cooling, profile measurement and control, multinip oscillating haul-off with easy running carbon fibre rollers, non-stick coated turning bars and remote motorised adjustment. Besides Simon’s local sales and service support, W&H offers a 24-hour remote service via its IDC (Information & Diagnostics Centre, [Status]) should technical issues occur.

‘We regard Nampak Flexible, and every one of our customers, as important business partners,’ states Simon. ‘Strong relationships are built on transparency and trust and at W&H we aim to provide the most comprehensive and expert service at all times, ensuring that every film line runs smoothly to full specification and customer expectation.’

Extending flexible packaging boundaries

Relying on W&H’s precision engineering allows Nampak Flexible to manufacture multilayer films that perform perfectly on customers’ automated high-speed filling and sealing lines.

‘We aim to achieve perfect roll geometry on every campaign. This keeps customers’ machines running smoothly and gets products to market on time. First time, on time, every time, that’s our ethos!’ explains Anand.

Nampak Flexible’s new high-barrier film formulations also provide a number of fresh benefits.

‘We can now produce multilayer films with fully-recyclable properties, giving us a marked advantage in providing customers with readily-available, environmentally-friendly packaging,’ Anand remarks. ‘Enhancing product functionality is critical and we’ve already embarked on various trials with customers who require extended shelf life. We’re able to extend the boundaries of product protection, so much so that some products previously packed in glass or metal can now be packaged using a specific seven-layer film recipe.’

Improving consumer convenience

Besides developing new films, Nampak Flexible has invested in the latest patented micro-laser perforating system from UK-based Rofin Baasel.

Installed inline as part of the slitting process it runs at a maximum perforating speed of 1 000 000 holes/sec, with a hole diameter from 50µm to 300µm, depending on application.

‘Laser perforation provides a consistent scoring depth on any multilayer formulation, ensuring non-interference with the film’s barrier properties,’ adds Clinton Farndell. ‘Many customers are realising the benefits of this technique and how it can improve the functionality and consumer appeal of their products. Several are now requesting laser perforation on films destined for retail, industrial and pet food products, to name just a few.’

As Clinton attests, Nampak Flexible’s decision to ‘leap-frog’ to the very best in film conversion systems is already reaping rewards.

‘Our aim this year is to uphold our position as the leading leading flexible packaging supplier in Africa, set a world benchmark performance and attract and retain the best people in the business,’ he states. ‘We’re well on the way to achieving our goals with these latest equipment investments. Our customers like the products we’re producing and our staff take pride in the systems and processes we’re implementing. However, we don’t intend to stop there. Several more investments are afoot and I’m confident we’re going to continue to turn heads with our innovative products and services.’
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