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South Africa: Packaging excellence with new KBA Rapida 106

South African packaging manufacturer Nampak’s slogan, “Packaging Excellence,” could not be more apt. Over the past ninety years this international group with subsidiaries in Africa and Europe has made its mark worldwide with innovative packaging made of paper, plastic, metal and glass for the food and beverage industries.


Nampak Cartons & Labels, a major group division and South Africa’s biggest manufacturer of folding cartons, recently fired up a KBA Rapida 106 six-colour coater press at its plant in Johannesburg. The new press runs alongside a highly automated Rapida 105 that went live at the end of 2007.

Market leader in carton and label printing

Nampak Cartons & Labels prints an extensive range of quality offset products for brand leaders in the automotive, beverages, food and household products industries. Of its five production plants nationwide, three are offset and two gravure. Its labels unit, which prints gravure, is also the market leader. Nampak Cartons & Labels has a market share of over 40%. The 1,000-plus employees at its factories process more than 70,000 tonnes (77,000 US tons) of substrates per year.


New vendor – new generation

Up until 2007 all the litho presses at the Johannesburg location were provided by another German vendor, but as these aged and started causing problems, the company looked at other brands. Impressed by KBA’s reputation among international packaging printers and its pole position in this sector, at the end of that same year Nampak installed its first high-tech KBA litho press: a six-colour Rapida 105 with two coaters and a hybrid capability. The first of a new generation, it raised the bar in productivity, production flexibility and automation.


More sophisticated demands

General manager Calvin de Souza says: “We decided to streamline our production flow, enhance quality and performance and reduce makeready times and waste. We were also looking to develop and print more sophisticated packaging designs, using metallic gloss and other special effects. We simply couldn’t afford to delay the decision until Drupa 2008 because we urgently needed a replacement press with more advanced specs.”

He continues: “Our research revealed that KBA offers the best technology and capabilities on the market and that their South African agent, Thunderbolt Solutions, provides an all-in, professional, on-site service. Delivery, installation and commissioning were completed in no time and we profited immediately from the Rapida 105’s high output. The contrast with its predecessor was like night and day, in every possible aspect. The Rapida is a full-option production line and continues to fulfil all our expectations in every way.”

rapida 105


Complete package for maximum benefit

The B1 (41in) Rapida installed in 2007 has a CX board-printing package, a 2.4m (94.5in) delivery extension, a 450mm (17.75in) plinth, nonstop facilities at the feeder and delivery, no-sidelay SIS infeed, mechanical guides for heavy board, sheet monitoring between the printing units, automatic plate changers, inking-unit cooling, washing systems for the blankets, impression cylinders and rollers, automated coating-plate changers, a pumping and cleaning system for aqueous and UV coatings, temperature control, two IR/TA/UV dryers, DensiTronic Professional quality management and LogoTronic Basic MIS with an online link and CipLink workstation.

The new Rapida 106 has the same configuration except for the second coater, the two dryers and the hybrid package.


Results and service the deciding factors

“In view of our total satisfaction with the performance, service and outstanding product quality of our first KBA press line, the decision we made in 2009 to replace a second non-KBA press – this time with a Rapida 106, the makeready world champion – was virtually a foregone conclusion,” explains Calvin de Souza. “But there were compelling reasons for choosing a slightly different configuration. Both the market in general and the packaging materials used by soap-powder manufacturers have changed dramatically. Plastic is increasingly replacing carton as the material of choice. However, we compensated for the slump in this sector by boosting sales of packaging for food and beverages. The Rapida 106’s high production speed of 18,000 sheets per hour and ultra-short makeready times have been an enormous help, enabling the rapid turnaround of short- and medium-run jobs of 10,000 to 15,000 sheets.”


Performance inspires confidence

According to de Souza, Nampak was just as satisfied with how KBA and Thunderbolt Solutions handled every stage of the more recent project: “The press is fast, reliable and even easier to handle than the 105. Our press operators, who were give professional training both in Germany and on site, know and appreciate this, and are keen to work with the new106. Our confidence in KBA and Thunderbolt Solutions has evolved into a close association that we would be loath to forego in the future.”