Demand for corrugated packaging in Thailand is expected to enter a new growth phase in 2022 as the country begins to exit the COVID-19 pandemic, and key economic sectors including export industries and tourism begin to recover.
Thai corrugated businesses targeting growth this year include S&D Industries Co Ltd, which is expecting a 10-15% increase in sales after recently completing a major upgrade its main corrugator line with the installation of a ‘Quality Line’ full dry-end with double facer and a stacker from BHS Corrugated. The upgraded machine is designed to run at 250 m/min.
“Our upgraded line has been running for six months. Our target average running speed is 180 m/min for singlewall sheets; it is running at 165 m/min for singlewall now, so it’s close to target. In fact, some days it runs at over 200 m/min,” said Narin Sodtivarakul, Deputy Managing Director, S&D Industries Co Ltd. “Our target average speed for doublewall board is 150 m/min. We reach up to 140 m/min at present, because of temporary storage space limitations.”
“We chose BHS Corrugated as they have high quality machinery,” Narin commented. “We have upgraded machinery in our factory using BHS Corrugated equipment before, so we trust them for their machine quality.”
S&D Industries’ customers benefit from automated stacking of their sheet orders as well, Narin noted. “Our customers need higher quality and accurate sheet count, so we have chosen to install a BHS Corrugated stacker to be sure on quantity and quality delivery,” Narin said. “Our customers are happy as we can deliver to them faster.”
The Quality Line dry-end upgrade features also includes an automatic ejection system, for rejection of defective sheets, so that customers are assured that no defective sheets will be supplied. “Our minimum sheet order is 200m. We cannot go lower than this as it affects the average line production speed,” Narin explained. “Some customers want 50 boxes, so we do a partial shipment or we pass the order to a partner company to supply; otherwise the order will affect our factory production efficiency.”
S&D Industries is increasing its factory storage area to handle its greater production volume. A new WIP conveyor system is being installed, with double layer storage.
“We will finish increasing our storage space by 2023; we need more storage capacity to accommodate larger output from our higher speed BHS Corrugated Quality Line,” Narin said. “Our factory production has increased by 15% since we did the dry-end upgrade.”
Singlewall board currently accounts for 70% of S&D Industries’ sheet production and doublewall board is 30%.
“It depends on the season as to how our production is handled,” Narin added. “At fruit harvest time, 80% of our sheet production is aimed at production of fruit boxes.” B, C and E flute is used to make sheets for converting into fruit boxes and for regular boxes.
S&D Industries also uses dual arc fluting, which involves two paper sheets being laminated together to produce a thicker flute. Boxes made with dual arc include fruit boxes for durian, longan, coconuts and mangos which are exported to China, Singapore and Indonesia, where Thai varieties of these fruits are prized by consumers.
“The grammage we use for fluting ranges from 97 to 230 grams,” Narin said. “The general trend is to reduce the grammage, but not for fruit boxes – especially for durian, as they need strong boxes to hold them. Normally we sell 25% of our sheet production to customers, while we keep 75% and convert ourselves.”
Sheets and boxes used to pack snacks, canned food, instant noodles and beer account for about 90% of S&D Industries’ total sales. Other important customers include fruit farmers and producers of soap and personal hygiene products, milk products and automobile parts.
Demand for corrugated in Thailand has fluctuated during the past two years due to the impact of COVID-19 on industries that are the major markets for packaging.
“Last year the local market was down a little because of COVID-19, but the year before in 2020 there was a 10% increase,” Narin said. “Paper prices increased and demand for corrugated packaging grew due to people working at home and using home delivery services.”
He continued, “Demand for snack, food and beverage boxes has grown in Q1 2022. We expect that demand for fruit boxes to pack durian and longan will grow in Q2 and Q3, but we are not sure by how much now.”
Established in 1987, S&D Industries is located in Bangkhunthian in the southern outskirts of Bangkok. The family-owned company has two paper companies; Mahachai Kraft Paper (MKP) is located in Samut Sakorn, an industrial area south of Bangkok, while Elite Kraft Paper (EKP), is located in Srakaew, about 220km east of Bangkok.
S&D Industries started operations equipped with a corrugator and two flexo converting lines, capable of a maximum output of 18,000 mt/year. Since then the company has installed two more corrugators and a further 12 flexo converting lines, boosting its production capacity around four-fold.
S&D Industries upgraded its printing facilities at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, installing new equipment, including a six-colour Latitude flexo folder gluer and an EVOL flexo folder gluer from MHI.
“Boxes printed with one or two colour designs are about 50% of our sales, but three and four colour work is growing rapidly,” Narin commented. “We can see that three colour designs are increasing as customers need better images to decorate their packaging. They need higher quality printing. We are receiving more orders for wrap around boxes; also demand for shelf-ready retail boxes is growing. We will invest in a larger flat-bed die-cutter for wrap-around boxes and retail display boxes. We will make a decision later this year.”
S&D Industries is planning to complete the upgrade of its BHS Corrugated line by installing a full Quality Line wet-end in 2023. “We are going to discuss the wet-end upgrade and depending on how we adapt after COVID-19, we expect to make a decision at the end of this year,” Narin explained. “We only did the dry-end upgrade to start with, as we needed a quick installation because of the stacker issue. Installing the new stacker has made our sheet customers happy, as there is no need to dismantle the stacks anymore.”
S&D Industries has used BHS Corrugated equipment to upgrade all three of its corrugator lines. The company is highly satisfied with the equipment it has installed and the customer support and service. Narin concludes, “Our relationship with BHS Corrugated goes back to 1997, when we bought our first corrugating rolls from them. BHS Corrugated has an excellent team led by Klanarong Boonserm for Thailand, and they provide us with great support and have been taking care of us for 25 years.”