Sonae Arauco, global manufacturer of wood-based panels, will invest over R200-million in upgrading its White River plant during 2019.

The upgrades will more than double its capacity to surface raw boards with melamine from as well as increase its raw board production capacity.

Sonae Arauco’s plant in White River will soon benefit from a multi-million Rand upgrade. Credit: Sonae Arauco

The installation of the new, top-of-the-range melamine press is expected to deliver a product of superior quality at reduced cost and is accompanied by plans for further upgrades to the raw board press lines in order to maximise the benefit of a single manufacturing site, enabling the company to reduce its operating costs overall.

This upgrade will allow Sonae Arauco South Africa to meet the growing demand for differentiated products, while being more flexible in meeting its clients’ needs for decorative products. The company plans to continue introducing new products to cater for the needs of the evolving market as well as introduce the latest trends from its affiliated partners and suppliers in Europe.

“This investment, along with the consolidation of operations into one site, will position us as a highly efficient, integrated supplier in the current competitive market conditions,” explains Dionne Harber, chief industrial and technology officer at Sonae Arauco South Africa.

The new melamine line will be integrated with the existing melamine line, in order to increase automation in raw board and paper handling, bringing added benefits and features to cater for the current market requirements as well as potential future demands. Upgrades to the raw board lines will be on existing equipment, but will allow for increased output and tighter process control and stability through the integration and implementation of Industry 4.0 and other digital transformation projects.

“While we are focused on supplying the local market currently, we have plans to further expand into the international market by adding products to our décor offering. The upgrades will mean that we will be in a better position to expand more quickly and provide the required flexibility which is becoming a growing client demand,” highlights Harber.

He adds, “The investment will put our White River plant in a much better position to source raw materials and supply the market with upgraded finished product. This will ensure a sustainable growth trajectory for Sonae Arauco in South Africa for a lengthy foreseeable future.”