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» June / July 2014 (VOLUME 12 NUMBER 2)
 
 Astrapak turnaround provides relevant lesson for all businesses

REMEMBER the days when Astrapak was the flavour of the month, garnering glowing revues from the financial press? Well, those days are gone … but in its place we now have a fascinating revival story, with the Astrapak management involved in a 2-year turnaround programme that is beginning to show results.

Few of you out there (very few, surely) would have volunteered for the job of Astrapak CEO when it came around in 2012, but Robin Moore put his hand up. Given the complexity of the problem, with close to 20 operating businesses spread around the country plus limited synergy and even duplication between these units, Moore and chief financial officer, Manley Diedloff, have had to make tough decisions. Besides that, they have been subject to the close scrutiny of shareholders and, if it’s possible to appease this group, next in line are the financial journalists … and the risk of getting damning headlines is high.

An important challenge has been to retain the focus on growth, business improvement and earning customer confidence whilst simultaneously executing on the strategy,” said Moore.

Realistically, they can’t afford to fail; the stakes are just too high.

The rationale being applied is of interest to all involved in company management: like it or not, even shutting a business down incurs significant costs, and you certainly want to avoid that.

 

Small Business Development initiative is welcome, very welcome

ONE of the positives that’s come out of the recent cabinet restructuring has got to be the formation of the Small Business Development Department. Not surprisingly, the initiative also attracted quite a bit of negative reaction, but in our book it’s good news. And we say that simply because we believe there is a massive need for small business at grassroots level. Rather than BEE style ‘transformation’ economics, what’s arguably most important is the need to create a culture and a mindset that it’s possible for ordinary people to start businesses of their own … and build their lives around them.

The simple fact is that industry in South Africa remains highly polarized, with depressingly few black-run businesses. Don’t confuse this with coloured and Indian entrepreneurs, who are among the most successful businessmen in the industry. For those black businessmen out there who are progressing well in converting businesses, our maximum respect is due … it’s just that there are too few of you, far too few.

Hopefully the new Small Business Development entity will realize at the outset that the most important change required is that of mindset: that it is possible for ANYBODY who can read and write to run a business successfully, and then start putting the building blocks in place.

Failure of the small business programme to create sustainable businesses and empower ordinary people around southern Africa will seriously inhibit economic development, so successful progress is extremely necessary.

 

POLYCO gets down to business

We hear POLYCO received a good response to its request for project funding proposals, the goal being to boost recycling of post-consumer polyolefin materials (see page 24). The interesting point here is: who has responded? Our observation is that many converting businesses are reluctant to become involved in post-consumer activity, or they have been up until now – if the turnout from individuals in the industry at clean-ups is anything to go by.

Our view is that plastics litter is negatively affecting our industry, in the sense that litter perpetuates the view that plastics are throwaway items and hence low cost … which in turn makes it difficult for manufacturers of high quality plastic products to achieve better selling prices.

The standard of plastic packaging containers, films and labels in South Africa is world class, but how can you sustain world class production on a low cost structure? POLYCO is in the processing of developing strategies to address this problem, so perhaps it’s time for you to get involved?

 

  New Erema recycling technology sweeps the floor at Belgotex
Belgotex Floorcoverings has furthered its ‘green journey’ with the installation of an Erema INTAREMA® 1007 TE recycling line.
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  Nylopack enters barrier films market
Nylopack, a new player, has entered the barrier films sector with the commissioning recently of its new 5-layer blown film line in Roodekop, Johannesburg.
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  PlasLantic restarts big Welex co-ex line
Metallurgist Jannie van Tonder returned to South Africa after nearly 15 years abroad and, as he stepped off the plane, was met by a man who made him an interesting offer … the problem was he had to decide almost immediately.
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  Aerosud wins int’l contracts for aircraft structural parts
Aerosud, an aero-mechanical component manufacturer and systems developer in Centurion, is achieving success with the production of structural components for airliners using continuous fibre reinforced thermoplastics (CFRTP) technology.
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  Thai manufacturer IRPC premiers its PE100 pipe grades
IRPC of Thailand, the globally active polyolefins and specialty polymers manufacturer, in association with its supplier Emeraude group, introduced its PE100 pipe grade materials at a seminar in Johannesburg in April.
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  Resilient young rubber company bounces back
ENV&E Rubber, whose rubber crumb and rubber reclaim plant in Pietermaritzburg was razed by fire in March this year, is bouncing back to a full recovery.
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  PMS Plastics celebrates 25 years in the industry
PMS Plastics celebrates its 25th anniversary in June, a milestone achieved through the experience and foresight of the company’s founder member, Philip Maye.
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  Cape lab can now test all plastics for food contact approval
Roediger Agencies, the testing laboratory, has installed equipment which enables it to test all plastic materials for food contact approval, offering an important new service to packaging manufacturers.
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  Turning waste PVC to worth
An innovative initiative has seen Krugersdorp-based Trioplastics begin the manufacture of trickling filters (also called ‘fixed film reactors’) which help in water purification systems ... and help rid the environment of PVC offcuts.
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  Atlas commissions big, automated roto system
Atlas Plastics, one of Southern Africa’s top rotational moulding companies, has gone semi-automatic, and more efficiently too.
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  AMUT mini PRF sorting and pre-washing system
AMUT Recycling Division has successfully commissioned a new MINI PRF sorting and pre-washing system at Wellman’s Plastics Recycling company in Johnsonville, South Carolina, with a capacity of 6-7 tons per hour.
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  Greater flexibility for PVC compounding
The quantec 46 G3 is the latest addition to the BUSS quantec® G3 family. These high-performance kneaders are predestined for compounding rigid and soft PVC. With throughputs up to 500kg/h for compounding filled PVC, this smallest version offers optimal flexibility and supports short change-over times for handling frequent formulation changes.
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  Coperion’s new automatic bagging & palletizing systems
Coperion has introduced the latest developments in its bagging and palletizing portfolio. The IBP 250/500 packaging system concentrates all weighing, bagging, marking, qualifying and palletizing functions in one small machine.
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  KEBA wins coveted German robotics prize
KEBA recently picked up the highly coveted first prize in the 4th Robotics Awards at Hannover Messe for its innovative KeTop T10 directMove handheld control unit.
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  Tellap pallet-free bulk bags
A key issue facing specialist manufacturing sectors, such as the chemical and petrochemical industries, is the need for a safe, reliable and cost efficient packaging and transport system.
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  PU coating makes wooden panels robust, weather-resistant
Working closely with Bayer MaterialScience, Assyx GmbH & Co. KG has developed a solution that is both smart and sustainable. It coats laminated wood with a smooth and fully closed covering of the polyurethane integral skin foam system Baydur.
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  Lightweight innovation for caps & closures
BOREALIS and Borouge, leading providers of innovative, value-creating plastics solutions, have launched an advanced grade of their BorPure high density polyethylene family to support the global beverage industry’s lightweighting trend for caps and closures.
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  New polyamide 6 for over-moulding Tepex
Hybrid technology based on Tepex continuous fibre-reinforced composites over-moulded with Durethan polyamides has tremendous potential in lightweight automotive design as an alternative to metal parts, for example in the fabrication of front ends, brake pedals and seat shells.
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  New prosthetic foot uses Solvay’s Torlon PAI
Fitbionic, a USA, Colorado-based developer and manufacturer of next-generation prosthetic technology, has launched its first product – an innovative prosthetic foot that features high load-carrying bearings made of Torlon® polyamide-imide (PAI) from Solvay Specialty Polymers.
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  Styron unveils economical mixture of PC & ABS
Styron, the global materials company and manufacturer of plastics, latex and rubber highlight its focus on the numbers that count in engineering innovations and successful commercial collaborations of their Pulse™ GX Series.
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