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Firms show their technologies at global event in Nairobi

Rotocon employees stand outside their stand during Propak East Africa 2022 exhibition at Sarit Exhibition Centre, Nairobi. The firm makes solid rotary dies, print cylinders and accessories label printing and packaging. With its head offices in South Africa, it serves Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Rotocon employees stand outside their stand during Propak East Africa 2022 exhibition at Sarit Exhibition Centre, Nairobi. The firm makes solid rotary dies, print cylinders and accessories label printing and packaging. With its head offices in South Africa, it serves Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Over 150 machines used in plastics making, printing, and processing were displayed at Propak East Africa 2022 exhibition. The three-day show ran from 10-12 May at Sarit Centre, Nairobi.

Among countries, it was Italy which came to the show with the greatest force with over a dozen firms. The Italian firms were attending through Italian Trade Agency, an Italian governmental agency that supports Italian business development abroad.

Mr Alberto Pieri, Italian ambassador to Kenya, said packaging sector gave a wide range of opportunities for developing business partnership between Italy and Africa. He said that Italian automatic packaging machinery sector is one of the most dynamic Italian industries. The sector has a turnover of more than 6 billion euros (Ksh738.9 billion), the ambassador said.

About 60 percent of the packaging machinery Italian firms make is bought by food sector. Others go to pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and toiletries.

Mr Pieri said Italy was the fourth exporter of packaging machinery to Kenya, mainly for food and beverage.

We chose eight firms at the exhibition and here we reveal their technologies.

How to start brush and broom business

Borghi from Italy.

Borghi's Sprint machine with 1 filling tool and 1 drill for the production of brooms and brushes.
Borghi’s Sprint machine with 1 filling tool and 1 drill for the production of brooms and brushes.

The firm makes machines for making brooms and brushes. It has machines to make a wide range of household brushes. They include brooms, dishwashing brushes, baby-bottle brushes.

Borghi’s machines make different types of brushes and brooms. These machines vary with capacity. Some make small quantities; others make high volumes.

“If you are in the household brush industry, whatever your manufacturing needs are, Borghi has the right solution for you,” said Mr Lorenzo Ghidini, area manager for Borghi.

“The key is to get source for cotton material,” he said. “Our company can provide contacts for sources of raw materials for brooms and brushes.”

Mr Ghidini said it is easier for a person starting brush making business to start by making brushes and mops. The investor would get more business by making brushes and mops, he said.

“It’s good to start with entry machines for brushes, brooms, or mops,” Mr Ghidini said. “The entry machines I recommend are Sprint and Octopus.”

Borghi Sprint machine is vertical machine with one filling tool and one drill to produce brooms and brushes. Mr Ghidini said Sprint is a simple machine, quick to set up and easy to operate. It’s ideal for small productions and frequent model changes,” he said. The operator manually loads new blocks onto the machine and starts the working cycle.

Borghi Octopus machine is for making mops from cotton material, non-woven or artificial material. It is a range of machines for making mops of various sizes and shapes. It’s a manually loaded machine.

The machine operator manually feeds the mop hardware in each cycle.

Plastic that will rot in 18 months

Explast from Mauritius.

Vibrant Polymers' illustration of the firm's biodegradable plastic.
Explast’s illustration of the firm’s biodegradable plastic.

The firm makes plastics which it says are mindful of the environment. The firm says it has a new way of producing plastics which rots faster.

It is the additive known as d2W, which makes the plastic capable of rotting. The d2w accelerates the natural process of rotting until the product itself is no longer a plastic.

Mr Ritesh Mungra, sales and marketing manager for Explast, said that after adding d2w, the final plastic is clear and is safe to carry human food.

“We put the additive [d2w] to normal plastic to make it biodegradable completely after 18 months, with no residual,” Mr Mungra said. “Even with additive the plastic retains its features.”

Mr Mungra said that the plastic retains its strength even after adding the additive. The additive doesn’t reduce strength of the material, he said.

Another business for Explast is recycle plastic for packaging. The firm sells the recycled plastic to textile firms for packing.

In addition, Explast makes paper for packing takeaway food.  The packaging prevents food and sauce from leaking through the packaging, Mr Mungra said.

“Our paper takeaways and snack boxes are not only eco-friendly and leakproof, but they are also grease-proof,” he said. “They can perfectly hold any oily food without having the takeaway or snack box getting absorbed and covered by oil.”

How to avoid losing flour in your mill

RGS Vacuum Systems from Italy.

The company has developed pneumatic conveyors for moving powders, pellets, granules, and particles with irregular shape.  This technology uses vacuum generated by electric or compressed air to transfer materials from one point to another. This reduces wastage while keeping the material clean.

Afropack Engineering firm represents RGS Vacuum Systems in east and central Africa. Ms Susan Wangai, regional manager for Afropack Engineering, said the technology is useful to flour milling firms.

“When you visit most flour firms you find flour all over the place,” Ms Wangai said. “With vacuum machine there is zero unga [flour] on the floor.”

In addition, pneumatic conveyors technology would be useful to animal feed manufacturers and coffee roasting firms.

Cement bag with a valve

Vibrant Polymers from India.

Vibrant Polymers’ garden bags.

Valve bags have a small opening or a valve on the top corner of the bag. The uniqueness of a valve bag is that the valve enables material to be directly filled to these bags by a hose.

After finishing filling the valve shuts automatically, providing a locking system.

Vibrant Polymers said valve bags were widely used for packing cement, minerals, and other products.

Mr Vivek Jain, managing partner, Vibrant Polymers, said the firm makes a variety of high-density polyethylene and polypropylene woven sacks.

These bags are used for packing cement, minerals, food grains, sugar, rice, and fertiliser. They are also used in construction, gardening, and animal feed.

Other types of bags.

  1. Sandbags – these bags are majorly used in traffic control, brims, and barricades for erosion control, dykes, levees. They are also used to build flood walls. The bags resist rotting. They have an optional tie string for convenient closing.
  2. Garden bags – they are for storing, transporting, and displaying. They are useful in tree nurseries, by farmers, and landscaping experts. These bags resist harmful sunrays. They have high strength and have a cotton-polyester handle for easier handling and transportation of plants.

Mr Jain said the company was looking for agents in Kenya to sell their bags. The firm could also supply directly to buyers.

Tea drying technology

J.F. McCloy from Kenya

The firm makes and sells machines for processing tea. It also makes ventilation systems.

The tea processing machinery covers all stages. From withering, fermenting, drying, storing, up to packaging. The firm exports its tea processing machinery to over a dozen countries in Africa, Asia, and South America.

Managing Director Harkeval Birdee said the firm’s fluid bed drier technology is popular among tea processors.

“Air flow and temperatures are carefully selected to ensure a satisfactory temperature gradient thus ensuring highest quality tea,” he said. “Advantages include ease to control and rapid mixing between particles resulting in high drying.”

J.F. McCloy also makes industrial fans for air ventilation and removing dust inside factories.

Machines to make plastic bottles

HTG Industry from France.

The firm makes and sells machines to make plastic (PET) bottles and jars. In addition to making machines to make plastic bottles and jars, it makes machines for filling the bottles and jars. The filing machines are for water, juice, oil, milk, carbonated drinks, and alcohol.

HTG Industry also makes filling machines for other containers such as glass and can.

Mr Francois Pierre Noyer, general manager for HTG Industry said the firm’s strength is its ability to sell low-capacity machines for starting business. He said that the firm sells small and medium machines that fill between 800 to 24,000 bottles in one hour.

The prices are affordable, Mr Noyer said.

“We’re between 30-40 per cent less expensive than our European competitors,” he said. “But we give the quality of a European machine.”

Professional drainage, economical cleaning

ACO Drainage Systems from Germany.

ACO hygienic gully.
ACO hygienic gully.

The firm is one of the world’s leaders in drainage technology. Its drainage systems have found use in food and beverage industries. The firm says drainage technologies reduce risks of beverage contamination and reduces cleaning costs.

Mr Stefano Pisanu, managing director for Kenya and East Africa, said ACO includes hygiene design principles normally reserved for food contact equipment.

“As future of drainage company, we are committed to raising industry standards with regard to hygienic drainage,” he said.

Mr Pisanu said a person must consider three areas to get a safe and hygienic drainage system.

  1. Effective layout and sufficient capacity. An unsuitable drainage with low flow rates can easily lead to flooding, endangering health, and safety in the workplace. This also raises the risk of pollution. ACO makes hygienic gullies, which have high flow rates. ACO hygienic gullies are easily accessible making them easier to clean. ACO hygienic gullies prevent employees injuring themselves by slipping.
  2. Reliable floor. Heavy and vibrant loading can cause floor cracks, mainly at the point where the drainage connects to the floor. ACO makes hygienic slot covers, which the firm says are ideal for using in areas where forklifts or trolleys with small wheels are operated.
  3. Cleaning performance. ACO says the ability to completely clean drainage system affects the cost of keeping it working as well as its hygiene. ACO glass collector helps to gather excess waste that would eventually end up inside the drainage. It also collects labels that get separated from the bottles during the manufacturing.

Drinking water in a paper packet

Galdi Packaging from Italy.

Theoni packs its water in paper packet.
Theoni packs its water in paper packet.

The firm says there is a growing number of bottled water companies showing interest in its paper packaging. In April, Greek mineral water firm, Theoni, started packing its water in paper packet.

Theoni installed Galdi’s RG50Mini packaging machine, which is built for water.

Galdi says Theoni wanted a container that was friendly to the environment and was 100 percent recyclable.

Mr Davide Sabbion, sales engineer for Galdi, said paper packaging, also known as gable top carton, is more environmentally friendly than plastic packaging.

“Packaging water in a paper is better for the environment,” he said. “It’s better than glass and food safety is the same.”

About Kaburu Mugambi

Kaburu Mugambi is a veteran of business reporting having worked with two national newspapers in Kenya. He is a graduate of economics from Kenyatta University. He started his journalism career in 2000 with The People Daily as a business reporter before becoming a business sub-editor. He joined Daily Nation in 2004 as a business writer. He holds a post-graduate diploma in mass communication from University of Nairobi's School of Journalism and an MBA in marketing from the same university. In 2016, he founded Water Tower, a media firm focused on water, energy and climate. Its content cuts across water, energy and climate with emphasis on adaptation and sustainability.

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