When Unilever South Africa wanted to increase production capacity at their Maydon Wharf plant in Durban, they looked for the supplier that could provide the most efficient and cost-effective solution. Although they already have eight Gebo Cermex case packers in operation, the team still weighed up all the pros and cons before deciding to invest in another machine from Gebo Cermex.
Looking at benefits
Much has changed technologically since the factory installed its first Gebo Cermex case packer 20 years ago. However, that first unit is still delivering the goods, albeit with some upgrades.
Roy Naidoo, the plant’s project delivery engineer, explains, “Gebo Cermex is one of three global machine suppliers to Unilever. Since this factory was built in 1996, the business has tried to standardise their case packers. However, this is not set in stone – after-sales support, machine quality and reliability, OEM flexibility and cost are all important deciding factors.”
The company considered all the options before deciding on the supplier that would secure its investment. There were slower lines available, even cheaper ones, but the value of an enduring partnership and precise and reliable equipment clinched the deal for Gebo Cermex. Unilever South Africa decided to install their SF39 bottom-loading vertical case packer, which was successfully commissioned in May 2016.
"30% line capacity increase"
“The SF39 is one of seven machines that make up a new packaging line. It has enabled the plant to increase its specific line capacity by 30%, allowing it to respond to market growth both nationally and into Africa,” says Naidoo. The new machine boasts a speed of up to 15 cycles/min over three format sizes, packing Vaseline petroleum jelly in 50, 100 and 250ml formats in six fragrances.
Teamwork overcomes teething problems
During the design and installation phase, there were some start-up issues with the new case packer but these were easily and quickly overcome. Naidoo explains, “Gebo Cermex joined us on site for a week, identifying the causes of stoppages and listening to our issues, concerns, suggestions and expectations. Our team members are not design engineers, but they were able to provide valuable insight into the practical aspects of the machine’s operation and recommend engineering improvements. Our teams shared many learnings and we had many discussions during the design and build phase and the installation.”
By purchasing this additional case packer – the ninth one supplied by Gebo Cermex – Unilever South Africa has cemented their relationship with Gebo Cermex and is enjoying the increased productivity the new equipment has given them. //
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