The expansion cost around €8m ($9m) and has created 25 new jobs, bringing the workforce to 100.
The Hockenheim-based company says the changes will increase production capacity and improve the two plants’ energy efficiency.
In Zwenkau, Sonoco produces injection molded rigid plastic packaging using advanced in-mold labeling (IML) technology. IML technology allows for the creation of decorated plastic containers that are particularly suitable for showcasing a variety of products, including dairy.
Sonoco also produces IML lids for rigid paper containers at the site.
Expanding product lines
Until recently, Sonoco said the site, which it calls Zwenkau II, was primarily used to provide additional capacity to assist with peaks in production demand. Since June 2016, the company has continuously operated on a three-shift basis.
All lines are now supplied with resin directly and fully automatically from on-site granule silos. The company further set up additional office space and a high-bay warehouse.
Decoration with IML technology
Sonoco says its decorated IML injection-molded rigid plastic packaging for moist and sensitive food products are being used by a growing number of manufacturers.
With IML technology, production and labeling of containers are combined in one single process step. The label is injected directly into the packaging wall and is preferably made from the same plastic substance as the container. Both components merge during processing – an advantage in terms of recycling as there is no need to separate materials.
In terms of design and effects, the plastic containers can be designed in a variety of shapes and colors, including transparent windows and photorealistic images.
Sonoco says these options are also available for sterilized and pasteurized foods that are traditionally packaged in glass or tin cans.
Founded in 1899, Sonoco is a global provider of a variety of consumer packaging, industrial products, protective packaging, and displays and packaging supply chain services. With annualized net sales of approximately $5bn, the company has 21,000 employees in more than 330 operations in 34 countries.