Efficiency and flexibility along the entire line
By switching its packaging procedure to MULTIVAC’s versatile R 245 thermoforming packaging machines and integrating online flexo printers, the medical products manufacturer WRP Asia Pacific, which operates throughout the world, has been able to secure its competitiveness for the coming years - and in doing so, it achieved ambitious objectives: increasing its output threefold, significantly improving the seal quality of its packs, and making cost savings of around 40 percent.
WRP Asia Pacific Sdn Bhd is one of the world’s leading and best-known producers of premium-quality gloves for medical examinations and operations. The company was founded in 1985 under the name of Wembley Rubber Products Sdn Bhd. It was changed to the current company name in 1998. Although at the start only latex gloves and urological balloon catheters were produced in a single factory, today the product portfolio comprises a large selection of high-quality gloves for a wide range of applications. Catheters continue to be an important part of the range.
WRP’s headquarters are in Sepang, an urban district in the south of the Malaysian state of Selangor on the Malay peninsula. There are subsidiaries in Europe, the USA, Latin America and the Asia Pacific region. This global player currently has more than 4,000 employees.
WRP offers its customers a high degree of security, quality and service - the company is certified to ISO 9001 and ISO 13485.
Naturally it meets all the international quality standards, including CE, EN, US FDA QSR, Health Canada/CMDCAS (Canada), JMOH (Japan) and SFDA (China).
11 billion gloves per year
Around 11 billion gloves are produced per year at three production sites on 69 production lines. The product range extends from operation and examination gloves made of nitrile rubber and synthetic latex right up to gloves for radiation protection and other special gloves. Due to their elasticity, the latex gloves from WRP are comfortable to wear while at the same time being very tear-resistant, and they offer outstanding protection against microorganisms. Nitrile rubber on the other hand is a synthetic, petroleum-based rubber, which reduces perspiration in the gloves and offers a high level of protection against chemicals. The different products are sterilised at WRP and have a shelf life of many years. Powdered latex gloves and nitrile gloves can be used for five years, while powder-free latex gloves can be used for three years.
Sterile gloves are packed in all sizes and in delivery quantities from a single pair upwards, and they have to be distinguished between right-hand and left-hand gloves. The individual types of glove offer a wide range of sensitivity and surface structure to meet the requirements of the particular application and user. Perfectly fitting and anatomically shaped operation gloves are also packed in pairs.
“Due to the large increase in production, particularly with operation gloves, it became necessary to optimise the packaging procedure. In addition to an increase in productivity, we also wanted to achieve a very high degree of efficiency and flexibility with the new packaging solution - while at the same time reducing our costs and labour with regard to the overall process, including logistics, personnel management and packaging materials. Our objective was then, and still is, to be able to produce efficiently at market prices,” explains Lim Khoon Kang, Senior Production Director at WRP.
MULTIVAC understood these requirements very well and suggested a highly flexible thermoforming packaging machine with a web printing system, as well as a new combination of vacuum packs and films. A total of five R 245 packaging machines have since been installed at WRP - the first machine was purchased in 2011, and the latest arrival was put into service in August 2016.
The R 245 - a good choice
Everyone at WRP is very satisfied with the R 245. The high-output machine, which can be configured to the highest specification, is equipped with 4-post servo lifting units, which ensure that very good seal quality and high output are achieved. The format is configured as 4-track/3 row - which means 12 packs are produced per cycle. The machine runs at a speed of up to 20 cycles per minute. The products are manually loaded into the pack cavities. Vacuum packs are created by means of slight evacuation in the sealing die. The operation of the R 245 is particularly ergonomic, since the machine is equipped with the MULTIVAC HMI 2.0 user interface, which is operated intuitively.
“When compared with the previous packaging machines, the packing speed and therefore the output are significantly higher. This gives us the opportunity of not only increasing our capacity, but also developing new products in future and launching them securely packed onto the market,” says Dato Lee, CEO of WRP. Because it was possible to more than triple the output, some adjustments were required to the production process, personnel management and final product inspection.
However, the positive effects are not only restricted to the output capability of the packaging machine. Thanks to the new combination of vacuum packs and films, the savings in packaging costs are estimated at around 30 to 40 percent, since the new film packs are significantly more cost-effective than the previous paper/film packs. It has also been possible to improve the seal quality of the packs considerably. The current vacuum packs also have less volume, allowing more packs to fit into the outer box than previously possible.
Flexible and versatile flexo printing
The implementation of an inline flexo printing system enables a wide range of packs to be printed flexibly on each machine. There is no longer any requirement at WRP for pre-printed material for the packs, which means storage and logistics costs are reduced significantly.