A Dundee company has taken an £8 million leap into the future by designing and building a new machine which is set to revolutionise its industry.
Rockwell Solutions is commissioning its market-leading polymer extrusion process, titled the Rockstar, for solvent-free lidding in the food packaging market.
The equipment is destined to deliver savings for the firm of more than £3m a year massively boosting Rockwell’s fortunes and enhancing its environmental credentials.
Rockwell is already one of the largest manufacturers of flexible, heat-sealed packaging for the food industry in Europe and one of the biggest in the world.
The in-house research and development team led by chairman Dr Aziz Okhai invented the process that is set to propel the Dundee company to the forefront of global food packaging technology.
The factory produces jumbo-sized rolls of chemically coated film using Rockwell’s own formulas resulting from years of focusing on research and development.
The rolls are then slit into smaller units and shipped across the world, with the film prepared for use in food packaging as lidding for ready meals and fresh produce.
For a number of years Rockwell has been developing new products and processes.
Rockstar is its latest achievement, and is on course to deliver staggering benefits.
By producing sealable lids without using solvent in the coating chemistry, the Wester Gourdie company can expect raw material and energy savings of around £300,000 per month.
Another benefit is the machine’s production efficiency and capacity which will double the output.
These advantages will slash more than £3m from the firm’s annual operating costs, delivering a major boost to Rockwell’s profitability.
The 70-metre-long monster has impressive environmental qualities, allowing the company to substantially reduce its carbon emissions footprint and expand into the exacting recyclable flexible packaging market.
The workforce has already grown by a third over the last 12 months to 80.
With a new sales team tasked to win more business from increased production, the Okhai family who run the company expect to see the payroll rising to more than 100 employees.
Rockwell’s existing customers are some of the biggest names in the worldwide food industry including Heinz, Unilever, Findus, Young’s and Bakkavor.
The management are optimistic that more domestic and international customers will be added to the portfolio of clients of the two-times winner of Courier Business Awards.
“The machine is unique and we are confident it will bring us major advantages,” said Dr Okhai.
“This places Rockwell and Dundee into the next generation of the food packaging industry and will make us leaders in the market.
“We see this as an investment that will allow us to maintain our position as Europe’s biggest flexible food packing company and hopefully increase our workforce, which will be important for Dundee.”
Managing director Zain Okhai said that after a transitional period absorbing the £8m investment costs, Rockwell’s profitability is set to soar with the benefits beginning to show towards the end of this year.
Rockwell has been supported by Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) to restructure the organisation and design lean operational processes preparing the company for rapid growth.
Consultant project manager Andrew Woodward has been working with Rockwell’s staff developing best working practices and coordinating HR and IT resources from Scottish Enterprise.
“Working with Scottish Enterprise’s resources has had clear financial and operational benefits for Rockwell Solutions,” he said.
“We harnessed expertise from SMAS, digital and IT Support and the organisational development group in one coordinated project”.
Round-the-clock shift patterns have also been introduced, and sustained productivity improvements have been achieved across the operation.
Mr Woodward said Rockwell is one of the most exciting companies he has worked with, offering real inspiration in a part of the country whose industries are not enjoying the best of times.
“This is an amazing company with a staff of committed professionals,” he said. “Rockwell has the potential to be one of the fastest growing companies on the east coast of Scotland.”