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Afripack produces some 120-million sacks from it's two lines. Two years after a major
investment, this remains the most modern paper sack plant infrastructure in South Africa.

AFRIPACK, founded in 1933, is South Africa’s oldest paper sack producer. Initially called PaperSacks, it later became DRG Sacks and Kohler Sacks â€" finally changing to Afripack in 1995.

It’s just two years since this sack plant, located in Mobeni, Durban, underwent a R60-million modernisation. As reported at the time (Supplement PPM Oct08), this investment included a fully-automated Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H) sack line â€" including an AM 8115 tuberand AD8320 bottomer â€" plus an Arcomat 3 robotic palletiser. This was installed alongside the existing W&H line and today Afripack produces some 120-million sacks from these two lines.

Two years after this major investment, this remains the most modern paper sack plant infrastructure in South Africa.

In the meantime, however, there have been significant changes at Afripack, most notably last year’s acquisition of the bulk of Astrapak’s flexible packaging business and the formation of Afripack Consumer Flexibles (ACF for short). This led to a divisionalisation of Afripack’s business with consumer flexible packaging businesses falling under the ACF banner, and the paper sack and reel-to-reel businesses falling within Afripack Industrial Flexibles (AIF for short).

AIF’s paper based products are supplied predominantly to the cement industry (with PPC and Lafarge being major customers) and to the paper sector (with customers such as Mondi and Sappi). According to Arnold Vermaak, Afripack’s group CEO, AIF is delighted with the post-investment performance of the sack plant. ‘Apart from the initial labour cost reduction achieved through the complete automation of the conversion process, the biggest improvements have been in lower waste and consistent quality,’ he explains. Waste on the new line is consistently under 2%, a significant saving given that raw materials represent approximately 70% of costs,’ he adds. Historically within the paper sack industry, the two biggest quality nonconformance areas have been related to glue (splashing, too much, too little) and bag flatness (absolute flatness is needed for high-speed cement packers).

‘The new line’s enclosed glue application chambers and the use of superior glue pasters have led to an almost total eradication of glue related problems,’ reports Arnold. The new-generation Arcomat 3 robotic palletisers on both production lines, coupled with storage of sack pallets on racks, have led to excellent bag flatness and pallet presentation.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating and, since our investment in 2008, our customers have reported noticeable improvement in productivity derived from packing speed and very few instances of non-conformance,’ Arnold adds


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