One of the joys of a Fijian holiday is Fiji Time. It’s a wonderfully relaxed approach to living that has been lost to the Australian way of life. But for those Australians working in Fiji, it can create a few challenges – especially if you are working to a deadline.
When AZ-Pak Systems and Emrich Packaging Machinery (both based in Australia) won the contract to install new PFM packaging machinery for the Fiji Sugar Corporation, no-one could anticipate the challenges ahead.
A greenfield project with key components missing
It was a greenfield project requiring new buildings, electricity supplies and compressors before the new PFM packaging lines could be installed. The packaging equipment needed bespoke design to accommodate the antiquated up-stream sugar processing equipment and the down-stream bulk handling which is currently a manual process.
When Steve Fowles from AZ-Pak Systems arrived on site the first day, the buildings were still under construction, there was no power supply to the site and the compressors had not been delivered.
“The Fijian team were delightful to work with but we needed to adapt to the situation. It was very clear my Australian expectations weren’t going to work here”, Steve said with a smile.
“This was not a standard install”
Steve asked Emrich to provide the packaging equipment for the Fiji Sugar project. “I had wanted to work with the Emrich team for a while because of their professionalism, capabilities and ‘Can-do’ approach. But this was the first time we had the opportunity to work together and they didn’t disappoint.”
Emrich supplied 2 PFM brick bottom bag lines to package 1kg, 2kg, 4kg and 5kg bags of raw sugar for the domestic Fijian market. The machinery had to be designed and built to order to fit the existing raw sugar refining equipment. So this was not a standard install.
The PFM packaging machinery was built and tested in Europe and then broken down so the components could be shipped to Fiji. On-site, Emrich, AZ-Pak and employees of Fiji Sugar had the task of re-assembling the new equipment. But that’s when the fun really began!
“I didn’t realise sugar could be so sensitive to the weather”
According to Peter Medcalfe, Emrich’s Senior Engineer assigned to this project, one of the biggest challenges they faced was working with highly variable grades of sugar.
Weather conditions on the day of processing affects the quality of sugar so the machinery needed to be tested over many days to find a setting that was optimal for most grades. “After all” said Peter “We can’t control the weather so I needed to ensure the 2 PFM packaging lines could cope with the variations.”
“I can’t wait to work with them again”
Not only was Peter involved with assembling and installing the new packaging equipment, he also liaised closely with Fiji Sugar’s marketing people to ensure the finished product looked good. Emrich is also responsible for training Fiji Sugar employees on how to operate and maintain the PFM packaging equipment.
So would Steve Fowles from AZ-Pak Systems work with Emrich again? “Absolutely”, said Steve. “They were professional, true to their word and their portion of the project ran smoothly. I can’t wait to work with the Emrich team again.”
For bespoke packaging solutions, talk to the experts at Emrich on 1800 801 243