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Article by Engineering News 6 November 2014

Nampak Flexible gains competitive advantage through R40m investment

Nampak Flexible has invested R40-million in a new W&H Heliostar SL 10 gravure printer – the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa – in a bid to gain competitive advantage in a sector that is butting heads with imports.

The new printing machine boasted a number of efficiency enhancing and cost saving features. It printed at a speed of 400 m a minute and had cut wastage, from the 7% on Nampak’s existing gravure printers, to just 2%. High levels of automation reduced the make-ready time by as much as 20% and enhanced safety, he stated.

The new equipment was designed using green technologies with a view to being as energy efficient as possible and reducing Nampak’s carbon footprint, while also adhering to the highest specifications in terms of the use and disposal of solvents. 

The new gravure printer was operated for four shifts, seven days a week and with no hold-ups reported since installation, the Nampak management team said. Staff training took place in Germany prior to importing of the components to South Africa, as well as during the installation phase.

“We saw the demand and invested,” Farndell said, adding that this was in line with the company’s strategic objectives and its commitment to ongoing investment to stay one step ahead by preempting market shifts. He said Nampak Flexible would consider investing in a second printer of this kind in the near future.

As a result of the introduction of the new W&H Heliostar SL 10, one 40-year-old machine had been taken out of commission.

Farndell commented that the investment in the printer had enabled Nampak Flexible to not only expand its product portfolio but also to meet demands from big customers such as Unilever and Cadbury, which were insisting on gravure printing. At present, gravure is a niche product in South Africa unlike in Europe where it is the method of choice.

He said customers which include big fast-moving consumer goods and food brands were not only looking for lower-cost packaging but also enhanced printing standards that would improve the accuracy and clarity of graphic designs. This was particularly important at point of purchase.

Further, the company had received feedback from snack manufacturer Lays indicating that packaging printed by Nampak was now of international standard and better quality than in Europe.

However, more and more packaging is being imported into South Africa as reel stock from the Middle East, India and Mauritius. At present, 79% of Nampak Flexible’s business is reel stock, creating significant pressure especially when it comes to cost.
As flexible packaging was extremely easy to transport at minimal cost, as opposed to bottles and cans, Farndell noted that this segment of the packaging sector was being targeted.

However, with equipment such as this, quality was higher and lead times could be reduced significantly with locally produced product generated in less than three weeks as opposed to the 12 weeks required by overseas manufacturers.

Farndell pointed out that the company’s objective was growth in the rest of Africa. It already sold its products to companies in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Kenya and Nigeria.

However, as far as Nigeria and Kenya were concerned, he said import duties of up to 25% made it important to find niche products that were not produced there. Back to top ^