Arabian Packaging, a corrugated packaging manufacturer based in the Jebel Ali Industrial Area of Dubai, delivers an in-house end-to-end service, from fielding international enquiries and ascertaining and understanding customer requirements, through the design and innovation stage, right through to the manufacturing of its own tooling and plates, flexo post-print and logistics.
The company is one of the longest established corrugated packaging manufacturers in the UAE, operating since 1982. Moving to a purpose-built facility in 2004, the business has continued to expand, serving as majority suppliers to a wide range of multinational corporations across industries including FMCG, agricultural, and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
“I believe we’re the only company in the GCC that has both seven- and eight-colour printing machines, so we’re able to develop a high level of high-definition graphics and shelf-ready packaging for our customer base,” says Luke Banks, General Manager, Arabian Packaging.
The business continues to grow in line with a strategic investment plan initiated in 2015, and now produces corrugated packaging across a wide portfolio within the UAE, across the GCC and extending to East Africa, India and Pakistan.
This strategy has seen the business make a significant investment in industry-leading hardware as well as in advanced automation. Banks describes the implementation of the ePS Corrugated Business System as the final piece of the investment plan.
Looking at Software
The ePS Corrugated Business System, a scalable, fully integrated browser-based system, has been designed specifically for the corrugated manufacturing and display industries.
Available as part of the Corrugated Packaging Suite or as a standalone solution, it provides businesses with the tools to connect and integrate all aspects of operations across manufacturing, business and production processes. The intuitive modular system offers increased visibility, improved communication and advanced automation driven by the reduction in manual touch points. The solution offers intelligent cost estimating, enhanced ordering capability, integrated financial solutions and comprehensive supply chain management tools.
“The Corrugated Packaging Suite builds efficiencies and maximises the potential of those other investments, and is also a great mitigator of risk, as it removes a lot of manual intervention,” he says.
Banks says the company’s key challenge on the software side was fragmentation, a common grievance for businesses that have expanded at pace and added additional solutions as required. “The ePS Corrugated Packaging Suite is a one-stop solution to take control of our enquiry to order process, right the way through to dispatch and delivery to the customer in one simple business suite,” he says.
The Corrugated Packaging Suite complements a key tenet of Arabian Packaging: data, insights, and action – something it builds into the company culture across departments. Banks explains, “The system provides us with the right data so that we can review business performance, efficiency and how we plan orders throughout the site. It gives us the right data to generate the right insights and understanding. From that understanding, we can then generate the actions needed to build the business forward and drive the strategy year on year.”
These insights have allowed Arabian Packaging to build a strong foundation across a single business system, with opportunities to introduce additional capabilities as the system and the business develop further.
While the system has had a fundamental impact on optimising a fragmented workflow, there are some tangible improvements on day-to-day touchpoints that stand out for Banks. He says, “A main challenge was balancing load across the site. The system allows us to consolidate our order intake and load balance effectively, and it has significantly improved our ability to manage inventory.”
He describes the Corrugated Business System’s capability for integration with third-party financial systems as another boon for the business, as accounting and finance were also disjointed. Banks also cites the improved visibility of raw materials and finished goods as wins for the new system. “It allows us to optimise our outgoing dispatch and deliveries to customers as well,” he says. “The process side of the business system is a lot more streamlined. The key advancements are balance load across the site, raw material and finished goods, significantly improved visibility, but on top of all this, the ability to deliver to a customer on time and in full.”
The pandemic resulted in a different approach to the implementation process itself, but the installation was a success and quickly began generating results. “The ePS team were great every step of the way,” Banks says. “We did a lot remotely, and the team were great in what was a difficult environment. I can only compliment the ePS team – they were fantastic and worked tirelessly to get it in place. We have still got further optimisations to do, but within a matter of four to eight days they had us up and running, seamlessly transitioning from the old business system to the new business system.”
He continues, “Within a few weeks we were running as normal, and two to three months later we’re starting to see those significant benefits in improved efficiency and load balancing across the site.”
Although the pandemic may have triggered unforeseen modifications in the implementation of the Corrugated Business System, the solution itself is advantageous as some COVID-19-related concerns endure.
Banks explains, “The industry has been going through some challenging times, as COVID-19 hit and changed the dynamic of the industry globally and especially within the GCC, with raw material challenges beginning in early 2020. Whether it be the economic situation, the global pandemic or other circumstances, raw material availability through freight and shipping became hugely challenging from a cost base and availability point of view, and that is still in place. Most corrugated businesses have really suffered this year, and we continue to work around that and work through it.
“The launch of the Corrugated Suite has further helped us to understand and analyse where our cost base lies to be able for us to ride out this extremely challenging time. It will support us in coming out the other side in a stronger position, and that’s what we’re gearing up for.”
More To Come
As the Corrugated Business System assists Arabian Packaging in weathering current instabilities, Banks is also looking optimistically to the future in terms of continued strategic development. Already a user of ePS Escada process control system on one of the site’s corrugators and now the Corrugated Business System, the company has its sights set on additional manufacturing execution solutions to solve challenges around Roll Stock Management and paper tracking with CorrTrac and CorrLink planned for installation later this year.
Banks concludes, “Thinking strategically ahead, we have got future plans to further invest and further expand and ePS dovetails nicely with those future plans. We’re looking at the ePS solution so we potentially have an opportunity to fully integrate both upstream and downstream. If we did move in that direction, then we’d be one of the first fully integrated equipment-to-business suite sites in the world, let alone the region, so we’re looking forward to seeing where that goes.