August / September 2015

August / September 2015

Managing in tough climate presents challenges

IT’S COME as a surprise to me that several commentators as well as many citizens out there are surprised to hear that things are going quite nicely at many of the businesses in our industry around the country.

As a matter of fact, even some convertors and suppliers are surprised to hear that others are doing, well, fine.

It’s inevitable that the mood in the workplace will be subdued during tough economic times. But the impression created in the mainstream media, of non-stop gloom, is exaggerated. There’s no doubt that the present climate is very, bordering on extremely, challenging, but it’s exactly at times like this that well-run businesses are able to weather the storms and even flourish. During the industry’s heydays, probably in the 1970s and 80s when there was major annual growth and opportunities aplenty, times were good. Well, it’s not like that anymore.

Most countries have survived tough times and for us, armed with the materials of choice for the 21st century, there is no reason why we shouldn’t get through it. In this issue we look at some positive initiatives.


A better power outcome

Electricity supply is obviously one of the key crisis areas at present, but our customers don’t like to hear of this as an excuse. Rather, it’s up to us to come up with solutions. And the successful convertors are working around the problem. But you won’t get anywhere unless you actively confront the problem: the article on how to deal with power interruptions by Dr Robin Kent, an Australian engineer living in England who specialises in energy management in plastics processing, looks at all aspects of the issue. It’s an interesting article that is well worth studying – it may enable you to minimise the damage from power outages, both in terms of damage to equipment and personnel management and motivation.


Rubber on the comeback trail

The Institute of Materials’ National Rubber Conference at Cathedral Peak in June proved to be a positive step for the industrial rubber sector. Development in the rubber sector for most of the past few decades has focused almost entirely on the tyre sector, and rightly so: to the point where the tyre of today is a marvel of physics that, when used properly, keeps many millions of people safe daily … for very little gratitude, actually.

That intense R+D focus has now shifted to the industrial rubber sector where, combined with enhanced testing capabilities, it is enabling rubber compounders to manufacture noticeably improved materials, which is directly allowing for the production of more efficient technical rubber items. Congrats to the IOM organisers for putting together a practical event.


Newcomer operating in record time

We finally have an article about one of the topics that’s ruffled more feathers than most of late: the entry of Serioplast of Italy to the local blow moulding sector comparison. They haven’t just arrived; they’ve gone into production in arguably record time.  Serioplast is working closely with brand holder Unilever and its investment here is a result of that.

South Africa’s blow moulding businesses have been working with the brand groups over many years, but in this case it appears it wasn’t good enough. If anything, the brand groups have played the SA convertors off against each other, leading to erosion of margins and at times destructive levels of competition among the convertors.

This is a tough topic for the rival container manufacturers, but Serioplast have certainly shown that they know how to get into operation efficiently.

That’s a high standard, and one which we all need to strive for.

Martin Wells