In the words of Amin Dirisu, Factory Manager of Advanced International Industries Co in Saudi Arabia, “It has been a remarkable journey over the last six years. From a mere discussion about the corrugated packaging industry to the formation of a state-of-the-art facility, the commitment of Omar Musalam and his son Fwazi is second to none.”
With early discussions back in 2015, a project was put into practice by two families – the Musalam and Alnory families. The Musalam family are the owner of Almustaneer Co for International Trade, one of the biggest trading companies in Saudi Arabia. The company was established over 40 years ago with operation activities in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Indonesia and Yemen. The Alnori family are owners of Saudi Nofa Establishment, with its head office in Jeddah. This company was established over 50 years ago.
Construction of the new facility began in earnest back in November 2017. From the outset, AIIC entered the project with clear objectives; as a company with service at the heart of its offering, it wanted equipment and people that were best in class, allowing them to produce the best quality packaging possible for a broad range of customers.
“Location, factory layout, work flow and equipment all had to be considered,” explains Amin Dirisu. “We therefore set about building solid working relationships with the suppliers involved, from the warehouse and factory builders, the machinery manufacturers and the raw material suppliers.”
AIIC produces corrugated transit packaging for a broad range of customers in the Middle East. “In a relatively short period of time since start up in late 2018, we have created a loyal customer base already,” continues Amin Dirisu. “We produce packaging for bottled water companies, as well as food, general beverage, agriculture and other general industrial customers. We work with local as well as multi-national companies in the region.”
The factory is built on a site of 22,000 sqm. There is covered space of 13,000 sqm, of which about 10,000 sqm is for production. The rest is offices and warehousing. The plant has around 70 members of staff.
During the early phases of the project, Amin Dirisu and his team started looking for a preferred machinery supplier. Following several visits to other box plants in the Middle East and Europe, the team decided to work with BW Papersystems as the primary OEM.
“Our first discussion with BW Papersystems on this project was an introduction phone call with Michele Turriani in March 2015, followed up with our first face to face meeting in Dubai later that month with Juan Espada,” recounts Amin Dirisu. “That first meeting ran for over twelve hours with detailed discussion on the specification of our requirements. Our next meeting was also in Dubai with Michele, Juan and also Marco Angeli. It did not take us long to arrive at a conclusion to go along with BW Papersystems as we were convinced that their machines and attitude were the right setup for our business goal. Their technical knowhow and experience of a greenfield project, their commitment, extra effort, support and quick response especially during our negotiation with the SIDF for financial support.”
The plant is well equipped, with a 2.5m high speed BW Papersystems corrugator. Starch mixing is undertaken with a VortX starch kitchen. Finished board is converted on a BW Papersystems 2.8m GGX 12600 flexo folder gluer, a 2.8m GGX 15000 rotary die-cutter as well as an Eterna 1613 flat bed die-cutter and an MG1450 folder gluer, which can run four and six-corner box styles.
Training is Key
With brand new equipment and a state-of-the-art facility, recruiting operators was a prime concern for Amin Dirisu and the owners. “We knew that the knowledge and skill level of our workers had to be high on our agenda,” explains Amin Dirisu. “As a result, we have developed a training program to enhance this value; we have an in-house training facility and we also have a pool of experience and knowledge – over 100 years combined experience among the managers. During machine installation and start-up, we also took the opportunity to share, train and develop our junior managers and technicians as well.”
The timing of the project was certainly hampered by conflict in the region, with machinery starting to be installed in March 2019. “The start-up was particularly challenging for us, as all the technicians had to leave due to the escalation of the conflict in the region,” continues Amin Dirisu. “We had previously delayed our start-up dates several times and at this stage, we were faced with another indefinite delay; this time, it was completely different as we had full staff on site and the monthly financial expenses would have huge effects on the future of our business if we delayed start-up again. Faced with this challenge, we had to take a very risky decision to start up the factory remotely. Initially, BW Papersystems were hesitant to start up the corrugator remotely, but after some discussions became fully engaged and were very successful. They were also worried about a full start-up with our operators, as they did not know how good they were. We finally agreed that it was the only option and I decided to lead the operation.”
In September 2019, BW Papersystems started the process of remotely assisted testing, commissioning and start-up of the machines. By the end of October 2019, AIIC made its first commercial trial runs on the new equipment. In January 2020, they then began full commercial operation. “I think both companies are proud of this story, as we were the first company to do a 100% remote start-up of a complete plant – and this was all a few months before anyone had heard of COVID-19 and the concepts of remote start-ups!” says Amin Dirisu proudly.
Although the site is now successfully running for well over 18 months now, the company is already looking at the next steps in terms of investment and development. The company is looking at fully automating the scheduling, as well as adding a six colour rotary die-cutter and expanding the factory space.
“There were challenging moments in the project but we have maintained a strong rapport throughout. Our relationship with BW Papersystem has developed into a strong partnership, we are pleased with their support, commitment, extra effort and their technical understanding of our business and their ability to resolve business differences promptly and amicably. I can only see further development in the relationship positively,” concludes Amin Dirisu.