Stockport based thermoformer Macpac celebrated 40 years of thermoforming in April of this year. Throughout this time they have provided the industry with many innovations and have supplied packaging and trays to practically every sector of business.
Surprisingly though, the company had never targeted the food industry to any serious extent. All that changed three years ago when managing director Graham Kershaw undertook a strategic analysis of the business and the food sector with a view to exploiting any potential. Graham concluded that Macpac were ideally positioned to develop a definite niche as an important supplier of bespoke food packaging. This was based on the company operating a large number of modern pressure forming machines, and with their energy efficiency and fast cycles they have a small footprint and facilitate small size tooling.
The tooling size is a key factor in Macpac’s strategy. A lot of the thermoformers supplying the food sector operate large footprint machinery requiring large size tooling. These types of machines are very cost effective at producing products such as trays when the run lengths extend into many millions. These long runs enable the cost of the tooling to be recovered over time if the job has multiple repeats. A typical job could involve tooling costs for these larger machines of around £30,000 but the same job, albeit a smaller tool, running on Macpac’s machines could cost around a third of this figure or even less.
In addition to this, Macpac operate their own in-house tooling facility that keeps an even tighter control on cost and it’s easy to see why they are competitive for runs into the million plus but more importantly down to runs in the thousands. It is another key aspect to their niche having the ability to respond to customer requests for small run special designs for new product trials or seasonal promotions. The lower cost of tooling makes it a lot easier to provide cost effective solutions for these customers. It’s even a viable option for thermoformers with larger machines to subcontract these job requests to Macpac.
Once the decision was made to develop more food sector business it was necessary to get the appropriate BRC/IOP accreditation for manufacturing to the expected standards of hygiene. Around 40 per cent of the factory output was dedicated to this type of manufacturing along with a new sales force with considerable experience servicing the sector. Now, less than three years later, due to unprecedented demand, the decision has been made to convert the whole of the factory’s manufacturing output to the BRC/IOP accredited standard. This will add even more flexibility to Macpac’s operation, as any machine within the factory will be available to use for food customer business.
A bi-product of this decision will be that all customers regardless of the industry will be receiving even higher quality goods due to the more stringent manufacturing standards put in place, but at no extra cost. Another area where Macpac add value to what they offer is in their design facility that works seamlessly with the tooling division through to manufacturing. Macpac don’t make standard products for the food industry. Every job they undertake is bespoke and designed to meet the precise needs of the customer. Highly experienced design engineers produce designs that not only look great but are practical to manufacture and can be made from the least possible materials.
Macpac achieve this without compromising strength or functionality. One area where Macpac have made considerable inroads is within the chocolate industry. Seasonal products such as Easter eggs and Christmas chocolates are perfect for Macpac to produce eye catching individual packs that are required in relatively small runs. The lower cost of tooling has made such contracts very attractive to chocolate suppliers especially when they are looking to compete for shelf space and consumer spend. This versatile and flexible approach is consistently winning business for Macpac and developing an even stronger niche.
For further information please telephone 0161 442 1642 or visit www.macpac.co.uk
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