Speaking at the opening of the Southern Hemisphere’s first compression moulding plastic bottle-top facility – which has been developed at Robertville on South Africa’s West Rand – Ramaphosa, who is also the joint chairperson of the bigger Mondi group, said the decision to make the R90-million investment was overwhelmingly positive for the country.
“A considerable amount of money has been spent in putting together this new plant. And I just wish that, in our country, we could see more and more plants being opened to create more and more jobs,” he said, while also stressing that the facility was an example of South Africa’s ability to engage in world-class manufacturing, while being conscious of the need for community buy-in.
“With this investment we are demonstrating that, as South Africa, we are able to do great things that have an innovation element to them,” Ramaphosa enthused.
He also indicated that one of his other joint-venture companies, Coca-Cola Shanduka Beverages South Africa, which runs one of the US multinational’s four bottling facilities in Southern Africa, also intended embracing the new closure system in the not-too-distant future.
The investment was initiated by the formerly independent rigid-plastics manufacturer Lenco, which was acquired, for R780-million, in January by MPSA, itself established in early 2005, with Mondi as its 55% majority shareholder, and Ramaphosa’s Shanduka holding 40%. Some 4 300 employees, through an employee share ownership scheme, held the balance of the stock.
The Lenco facilities have subsequently been restructured into a new division known as Mondipak Plastics, itself a relatively small component within the far larger London- and JSE-listed paper and packaging group, which was recently unbundled from Anglo American and now had a market capitalisation of R35-billion.
The new closure facility, which will supply beverage manufacturers ABI and South African Breweries, had a nameplate capacity of 1,4-billion bottle tops.
Mondipak Plastics MD Hugh Thompson said that its aspiration was to be the leader in its selected plastics-market segments and that it would continue to pursue organic and acquisitive growth in the rigid-plastics segment, which it expected to expand by between 5% and 6% a year for the foreseeable future.
The facility itself incorporates compression moulding, which enables a single line to produce outside closures with the floating liner in line with world-best trends in carbonated soft drink closure manufacture.
It was based on technology offered on an exclusive licence basis from process-equipment Sacmi and Pelliconi, both of Europe, and incorporated non-PVC liners. The four Sacmi lines also embrace precision cameras to ensure quality, while the liners are laser rather than digitally printed for speed and quality.
Raw material is received in 20-t loads, blown into silos for use in the plant, which eliminates hazards associated with raw material stored in bags.
All the equipment is fabricated in stainless steel and the production environment is climate controlled to 50% humidity and 22-degrees Celsius in order to maintain product quality.
Mondipak’s Henk de Klerk reported that the plants had been designed to hazard analysis and critical control points, or Haccp, standard (a requirement from both Coca-Cola and SAB) and that it anticipated receiving such accreditation within nine to 12 months.