Keeping a Close Eye on Quality
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Stuart Parker
Driven by the increasing demand for a high quality finished product supported by a strong value-add proposition, Nairobi-based packaging manufacturer, Dodhia Packaging Ltd (DPL) continues to explore ways to differentiate itself from the ever-competitive Kenyan market.
Producing a range of corrugated cartons and boxes for clients across a variety of verticals, the Company has steadily improved its quality, range, volume and capacity of products since establishment in 1974.
“Five decades later and DPL is now capable of producing in excess of 2,000 tonnes a month; making us the largest player in the Kenyan cardboard packaging market,” confirms Navraj Dhillon, Director. “One of the main factors that made this possible has been our continuous improvement strategy, where we are investing in higher speed machinery through add-ons and modifications to make productivity the best it can be.”
The Company’s recent partnership with Riley Packaging in Uganda further supported this strategy, resulting in DPL becoming one of the largest suppliers of corrugated cartons in East and Central Africa.
An ISO 9001:2008 certified Company, DPL has a reputation for keeping a close eye on quality and customer service, conducting all the relevant checks before a product leaves the factory. “Competition in the local Kenyan market is fierce and price is a major factor for our customers. The kind of product we supply makes it very easy for a client to source it elsewhere in such a short period of time.
Therefore we need to ensure our quality is always as close to 100 percent as possible and look at ways to add value for our customers,” says Dhillon.
“Our success can be attributed to the principle that our customers deserve a quality product, timely delivery and a fair price. In order to provide this we have committed ourselves to a strategy leading to sustainable and lasting relationships involving our customers, employees and suppliers. As a result of this strategy, we are now the preferred suppliers for some of the largest organisations in East Africa.”
Changes in demand
Over time, DPL’s core product range has seen many modifications and improvements so as to continue answering both the client and end-consumers’ needs. “Cartons have gone from being just boxes for goods transportation to a way of advertising your product due to their everyday visibility,” the Director explains. “This is especially the case in Africa, where just looking around you will notice products in these cartons; from little shops on the roadside to the back of motorbikes and trucks. As a Company we constantly look at ways to provide our clients with better designed boxes, complete with clear and colourful branding that serves to market the product towards the target audience.”
As the East African market becomes more and more sophisticated, DPL expect the demand for innovative and attractive packaging to continue growing. To meet this demand, ongoing research and development (R&D) and equipment upgrades are required.
Dhillon details: “The continuous improvement of our machinery is one of the core pillars of our strategy. Over the past five years, we have focused on improving our corrugators and printing machines in line with the latest technological advances in packaging. Our machines now have more automated elements which have increased our manufacturing productivity, efficiency and capability to offer customers a larger variety of carton sizes and options.”
To further solidify its market position over the next two years, DPL will focus on refining the price point for its corrugated cartons in a bid to offer innovative solutions at a fair price.
“The larger the manufacturing runs the more efficient the operation and the more cost-savings we can pass onto the customer. We will continue to focus on this and improve output. On the other hand, as more and more small and medium businesses pop-up there will be a bigger demand for smaller volume jobs. It is our job to come up with the best ways to cater for this important market that is beginning to emerge,” the Director adds.
Environmentally-friendly production has always been a priority for DPL and marks another core pillar of the Company’s continuous improvement, which ultimately revolves around increasing productivity and quality in line with a reduced carbon footprint.
“Made of paper and starch glue, our corrugated carton is 100 percent recyclable. Moreover, all of our waste from the production process is supplied to a waste paper collector – who adheres to a strict criteria – and converted back into paper which we buy to make more cartons. This cyclical process is not only sustainable, but cost-effective and secures our supply of raw materials,” says Dhillon.
Supporting the whole manufacturing process is DPL’s ERP system and a team of young local professionals who are pushing the business forward. Driven by production targets, the ERP software is able to ensure minimum objectives are achieved and no production time lost; while Company training results in a good culture of teamwork and building relationships with local suppliers.
“Wherever possible, we like to do business with local suppliers; they play a big role in the success of our business. Paper is our biggest raw material and we procure around 70 percent locally from Kenya and Tanzania. In terms of equipment, we import from all over the world and our long-term relationship with partners gives us access to the finest quality of materials at a fair price, delivered in a timely manner,” he states.
Adopting Kaizen across all areas of its core activities has resulted in a winning strategy that continues to stand DPL head and shoulders above the competition. Focusing on improvements to its corrugated carton product range that align with industry needs, DPL will place even more emphasis on cementing client relationships and utilising its reputation as a springboard to form new ones.
Dhillon concludes: “By next year, we would like to further increase our output by securing improved productivity and potentially making investments in new machinery. We will continue to provide quality products on-time and we are keeping an open mind towards other new forms of packaging that we could offer to the market.”