One of the Middle East’s leading independent packaging producers is using Sipa technology to crack one of the hardest nuts in the business – how to make a PET bottle with a handle, cost-effectively. JRD International operates in the Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai. It is unique in the region for the range of advanced technologies it uses to produce a wide range of packaging products for food and drinks. These span in-mold labelled thinwall containers, through multilayer coextruded sheet and thermoformed containers, to all sorts of injection-stretch blow molded bottles. Sagar Verma is JRD’s Business Head. He says the company strives to stick out from the crowd with an astute mix of advanced technology and highly competitive pricing. The strategy has clearly worked: JRD is the largest producer and supplier of PET bottles in the United Arab Emirates. ISBM technology has a host of advantages that enable the production of very high quality bottles with very advantageous economics. But those advantages normally stop short of production of handled containers. There have been several attempts to remedy that situation. JRD reckons it has one of the best. JRD and SIPA have developed an automated solution for handles insertion. Up until now, virtually all PET bottles with handles found on the market have had the handles incorporated in a separate manual process. But JRD, together with Sipa, has developed an automated solution. Most of JRDs ISBM production is on single-stage systems. “But for our highlight we have, together with Sipa, devised a worldwide first in the shape of a two-stage solution,” he says. It is already in commercial use for the production of 1,8-Liter bottles for cooking oil. JRD makes its own preforms on a Sipa system. These go into storage for 24 hours and are then automatically fed to a Sipa reheat blow molding system. During the blow molding process, two edges are pressed mechanically into the bottle in the blow mould. After the leakage check, the bottles move to a new station for automatic handle fixing. Here, the handles are loaded in the correct position via a hopper, compressed and snapped into place on the edges. The finished bottles are then sent to an automatic packing station. “Nowhere does a human come into contact with the preform or the bottle,” says Verma. Result: very high quality with contained production costs. Incidentally, JRD makes the handles too, as well as the bottle caps! Nor is the operation mainenance-intensive. As with any new process, there were teething troubles at the beginning, “but I would like to say a big ‘thank-you’ to and express my appreciation of the team from Sipa,” Verma says. “They were always on hand and, when they needed to, they worked round the clock. An innovation solidly backed by excellent technical support. “I have been buying machines from a very wide range of manufacturers for 20 years and there are technical problems with every machine, but the service provided by Sipa is up with the best I have experienced.” JRD’s Managing Directos Anupam Lunavat says on the company’s web site that his vision “is to see JRD International achieving South East Asian leadership in plastic processing by 2012 and global command by 2015.” No lack of ambition there! “We are constantly expanding,” says Verma. “Double figure growth rates in the higher range during the course of the year are normal.” And the company has continued to invest, even through the recent global crisis. Another Sipa installation is on its way.