Johannesburg - Mpact was investing R10 million in equipment to make containers for dairy products at its fast-moving consumer goods plastics plant in Pinetown in KwaZulu-Natal, the packaging producer said yesterday.

The company said its new Engel high-speed moulding machine, together with a label robot from Illseman Automation, would offer dairy producers high-quality plastic containers of varying sizes for products such as yoghurt.

The machines will initially mould a 150ml yoghurt cup with in mould labelling (IML). Other sizes would follow depending on market demand.

Made by Glaroform in Switzerland, the machine will produce about 55 million cups a year. Mpact said the equipment complied with European safety standards and could accommodate moulds with higher cavitation.

Cavitation refers to the number of cups produced in each cycle of the machine as it injects molten plastic into moulds. The IML robot will reduce the risk of contamination by cutting down on unnecessary human contact with the cup during the manufacturing process.

Mpact said the machine was already producing containers for an export customer.

Neelin Naidoo, the managing director of Mpact’s plastics division, said dairy producers were looking for innovative ways to contain input costs. “Consumer spending is under strain and food producers say they cannot pass on all the cost increases. Fuel, imports and packaging are the main contributors to cost increases of food manufacturers,” he said.

He added that the R10m investment was in line with one of Mpact’s strategies to develop and selectively grow the group’s leading market positions.

“We have also applied our knowledge in product application, product design and the needs of the market in developing this capability.”

Paul Visagie, the general manager at Mpact’s Pinetown plant, said the capabilities of the machine had been tested and proven. “Currently this IML system is used to manufacture polypropylene IML cups for an export customer.”

Four cameras measure each cup ejected from the mould for defects such as label displacement, label over-moulding and rim accuracy.”

Last month, Mpact said it would spend R765m to upgrade and expand its largest operational plant, the Felixton paper mill in Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal.

The project would add capacity for the manufacturing of products such as corrugated cardboard, recycled cartons and plastic containers. Mpact said the Felixton project would be one of the biggest focuses in the year ahead.

The project would be implemented in two phases.

The first phase would cost R155m and will bring an additional 20 000 tons of capacity online. A further 40 000 tons of capacity would come on line in the second half of 2017.

Mpact closed 0.92 percent lower at R26.92 yesterday. - Business Report