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Taurus cements a bright future

This article was published in Packaging & Print Media in March 2015 and written by Karen Stretch.

Taurus Packaging is reaping rewards by pushing the boundaries in multiwall sack and multilayer bag production, writes Karen Stretch.

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WITH its roots in potato bag manufacture, Taurus Packaging has made steady progress during the last 38 years by investing in cutting edge technology, top-class premises and expert employees.

Today, this fiercely independent enterprise has emerged as the principal bag and sack manufacturer in southern Africa, converting an estimated 28 000 tons/year of paper into high-quality sacks and bags for multiple industries, and supplying more than 500 million units to customers in South Africa and neighbouring countries.

Latest news is that Taurus has scooped a groundbreaking three-year, multi-million rand contract to supply specialised multilayer bags to one of South Africa’s oldest, most established cement companies – Afrisam. ‘We’re delighted that Afrisam has identified us as its supplier of choice!’ says sales manager, Craig Brickley.

‘It certainly hasn’t been an overnight process. We’ve been building the relationship for some time and, since the installation of our ultra-efficient Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H) AM8125/AD8330 sack line in 2013 we’ve been able to ramp up production capacity to approximately 20-million sacks/month.

‘Delivering the highest quality, consistent packaging, on time, every time, is what we do,’ he continues, ‘and Afrisam recognises our investment as a clear commitment to be a fully-engaged, long-term supply partner.’

Besides cement packaging, the Isithebe factory produces highly-engineered multilayer bag constructions such as OMS (Open Mouth Sewn), SOB (Self Opening Bags), PSV (Pasted Sleeve Valve) and OMPB (Open Mouth Pasted Bottom) bags, including valves and handles, for food and nonfood products such as potatoes, maize, flour, sugar, tea, charcoal, pet food and chemicals. Paper raw materials are sourced only from reliable, FSC-certified suppliers, predominantly Mondi, Sappi and Cellmark/ BillerudKorsnäs.

The jewel in the crown

The fully-automated W&H AM8125/AD8330 tuber line is equipped with a data capturing system with preset sizes, enabling ultra-fast changeovers at the touch of a button. A computerised web tension control system enables Taurus to cope easily with varying substrate thicknesses and grades, enhancing throughput, quality and consistency. The mammoth 100m-long sack line reaches a maximum speed of 350 tubes/min (up to three plies), or 300 tubes/min (up to four plies) and 250 tubes/min (up to five plies). It’s one of the most versatile machines of its kind, enabling flat and gusset tubes to be produced at widths from 180mm to 750mm, and tube pulls from 320mm to 1 350mm.

An advanced inline AD8330 multipurpose valve bottomer handles small- to large-sized bags and glue application can be altered at any speed – switching between starch and polymer glues. This efficient and flexible system also has its own adjacent climate controlled glue room, connecting to digital pasting technology with automatic viscosity testing. Featuring precise application, this novel equipment sprays up to 30% less glue than an earlier system, delivering reliable and cost-effective sacks.

Melton Adhesives supplies both polyvinyl acetate and starch-based adhesives for multiwall sack and SO bag applications, using formulations customized to produce optimal efficiency – even in the face of substrate variations and climate changes – to ensure consistent performance.

On a weekly basis, members of the Melton Adhesives team monitor and control adhesive performance, playing their part in ensuring prompt delivery of bags and sacks to Taurus’s customers. An Arcomat 3 computerised palletiser deftly handles finished sacks, neatly stacking them with even weight distribution, ensuring safe transportation and easy handling and restacking.

Besides the ground-breaking AM8125 tuber line, Taurus operates ten SO bag machines, manufacturing pack sizes from 2kg up to 10kg. Collectively, these machines produce a staggering 20-million bags/month for some of South Africa’s best-known brands such as Freshmark potatoes, Woolworth’s charcoal and briquettes, Charka, Illovo, Pick n Pay, Shoprite Checkers and Spar house brand items.

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Perfect production management

Full-colour printing is carried out on a W&H Astraflex six-colour CI flexographic press, with a top speed of 480m/min, or on a Flexotecnica N8G eight-colour gearless sleeve press, featuring a maximum speed of 600m/min and flying splice automatic roll change.

But next month, an advanced W&H Garant Linaflex flexographic press will be added to the line-up to play a leading role in delivering precision-printed premium-grade bags for Afrisam and other cement manufacturers, and tile adhesive producers such as Norcross and Ezee Tile. ‘To ensure top print performance, we trust Polyflex with our platemaking,’ says production manager, Philip Hugo ‘With a thorough understanding of our operation, Polyflex’s account manager, Trevor Channell, ensures premium-grade plates and swift job turnaround.’

The entire production facility uses a tailor-made Shopware workflow tracking system, providing realtime information on production speeds, machine downtime and waste levels.

‘Accessed electronically from anywhere in the world, it’s a critical component in our daily operation,’ Philip continues, ‘allowing us to provide just-in-time information to our internal team and customers. Additionally, it traces bags back to their original manufacturing station and schedules quality checks at selected time intervals.’ And the checks don’t stop there; there’s also a dedicated ink kitchen on site, managed by Sun Chemical’s specialist technicians, utilising a computerised Rexson ink dispensing system to provide accurate colour consistency and to ensure brand colour stability.

Quality first

With a multitude of food manufacturers as key customers, Taurus places absolute priority on food safety assurance and every aspect of the Isithebe operation is ISO 9001:2008 and FSSC 22000 compliant. ‘FSSC 22000 ensures a permanent and effective system for process improvement, regulation and risk minimisation and absolute food safety,’ remarks Philip. In the QC department, a colour spectrometer determines precise ink shades and consistency. Samples from each production run are precisely tested and results recorded according to the ISO-standard QMS (Quality Management System). ‘These samples are retained in a custom-built sample room and, if any quality issues are raised or certain campaigns are audited, we can trace each bag back to its manufacture date and raw material batches,’ Philip explains.

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Investment for the future

Through continual investments Taurus has kept abreast of technological advancements in the paper sack making and printing industries, and, as Craig Brickley attests, the commitment shown from Taurus employees is evidence of the ‘can do’ culture set by the company’s long-standing owners, the Van Deventer family. ‘We have a world-class production facility, coupled with a talented team who truly enjoy working for Taurus Packaging, and I think that gives us a special edge,’he remarks. ‘To be the best, you’ve got to acquire the best, and right now we’re perfectly placed for future expansion.’

As one example he cites buoyant growth in the potato packaging sector and, with the advent of the latest automated packing technology, top farmers are turning to team at Taurus to provide cuttingedge bags that are tough enough to withstand the rigours of packaging lines and complex supply chain routes. ‘Right now, we’re working on projects aimed at extending and upgrading our bulk bag equipment,’ states Craig. ‘By doing so, we’ll be able to free up capacity on our other lines for OMS and SO bags for fast-growing brands in the sugar, tile, charcoal and pet food sectors,’ he adds. ‘Most importantly, our customers, large and small, will reap the benefits of our latest upgrades and continue to receive the personal service and support they’ve come to expect. Significant capital investments come on line at the end of May and there are fresh projects in the pipeline for 2016.’

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