After working for several years with local converters, Willowton Group (Willowton) in South Africa has escalated its production volumes and revolutionized its sunflower oil brand, Sunfoil, thanks to Sidel’s proficiency in PET blowing and packaging design.

Established in 1970, Willowton company is a family-owned business in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. With its creative approach and hands-on approach, it has instituted itself as one of Africa’s major oil seed processors and edible oil packers. It is the top edible oil producer in South Africa, too, and it owns the country’s forefront sunflower oil brand, Sunfoil. With the aid of its in-house oil refinery that has been in operation for more than four decades, this regional powerhouse also manufactures edible oil for retail brands.

To augment its annual production volumes and differentiate its Sunfoil brand from customary edible oil brands with generic container shapes, the company planned to collaborate with Sidel to manufacture its PET containers in-house. To accomplish this, the company acquired two Sidel EvoBLOW standalone blowers and depended upon the company’s packaging design skills and experience to assist it in creating customized family bottle shapes.

Faisal Modi, operations manager, Willowton stated- “One of the many advantages these new standalone blowers provide is a more independent bottle production set-up. The equipment also allows efficient production planning and descreases warehouse space. The SBO 16 EvoBLOW manufactures a 2 L format while the SBO 10 EvoBLOW creates all bottle formats up to 1 L. As the latter manages several bottle formats, the company also chose to adopt a mould Bottle Switch system to conduct ultra-rapid bottle changeovers. This easy way to adapt our oil production to the fast-moving market demands contributes to great production flexibility.”

This system is relied upon repeatable, tool-free operations that mean the operator spends only 30 seconds per cavity, thus increasing production flexibility, equipment availability and production uptime. Both machines can operate at an efficiency level of 99.5% irrespective of the End-of-Line performance, thanks to the production buffer created by the storage silos located on the lines.

“With those two blowers, we already increased our annual production volume by 50% and we are all-equipped to handle any future additional demand as well,” Modi further added.

In order to cater consumer demands in terms of superior hygiene standards, the two blowers have been fixed with different options such as preform dedusting, air filtration, air recovery and automatic centralized greasing to ensure production integrity.

Starting from a series of modern designs that were created using bottle drafts and digital mock-ups, technical designs and prototypes with 3D printed models, the new graceful, cylindrical Sunfoil silhouette with a drop logo inscribed on the bottle shoulders was developed. This bottle is more practical as its belt-inspired design and decreased diameter makes its handling easier. The new shape has been applied to various family bottle sizes, including 375 ml, 500 ml, 750 ml and 2 L (a rectangular bottle). The last one was the most challenging format since blowing a rectangular bottle without any specific preferential heating blowing process influences the structural rigidity of the container. The company thus conducted various packaging evaluation and qualification tests on the 2 L bottle, including Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and feasibility trials to enhance its strength and performance across supply chain simulations. The bottles are installed with push fitting or screw closures.

“Implementing this project went particularly smoothly and we are all really pleased with the outcome,” added Modi.

To make the most of the blowers operation, the company also organized training courses for the brand operators before and after the equipment validation process. Trainings were provided by the company’s local technical experts on-site and bolstered the brand’s team ameliorating their skills while strengthening trust between the two companies.


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