RAFA WATER: SACMI-driven product innovation in cap-preform production

RAFA WATER: SACMI-driven product innovation in cap-preform production

Barakat Al-Jedani: «We provide our customers with pure drinking water, following the highest standards of quality. With SACMI we enjoy an all-round partnership for product innovation and design»

Safe, high-quality water at the best price, provided in attractive, well-designed packaging to ensure an optimal drinking experience: this is the goal of Rafa Water, a Saudi brand based in Jeddah which, in 2018, partnered with SACMI to begin direct production of caps and preforms. The project has turned out to be quite a success, explains owner Barakath Al-Jadani. In fact, the five already-operational lines (two for caps, three for preforms) will be joined by another four lines by the end of 2023, underscoring the continuity of a partnership that prioritizes product development to enhance both competitiveness and the customer experience.

Mr Barakat, why invest in the direct production of caps and preforms?

«The water bottling market here in Saudi Arabia is a highly competitive one. Companies compete on price and, above all, quality of packaging. By deciding to directly produce the caps and preforms for our bottling lines, we set ourselves two goals: to make production more versatile to respond to market needs and, even more importantly, to be able to guide product innovation ourselves and so make our range ever-more attractive and competitive by focusing on our customers' consumption experience. In SACMI we’ve found the perfect partner for our projects».

What are the main steps on the path to achieving those goals?

«The process of vertically integrating our lines began in 2018. Initially, we purchased two IPS 400s, the most powerful in the SACMI preform press range, both equipped with 128-cavity molds. These were used to make 7.8- and 9-gram preforms to stretch-blow 200/250 and 330 ml bottles respectively, the most popular on the market. These were ‘lightened’ solutions that we co-developed and tested with the SACMI Lab. Back then, this was a highly innovative approach that allowed us to make our product much more competitive.
Alongside the IPS presses we installed two cap lines with two high-output SACMI CCM48S presses (108,000 caps per hour per line). These were used to produce S29W15 caps weighing just 1.2-1.25 grams for the 29/25 mm neck finish. The lines became operational in 2019 and were a huge success, so much so that two years later we decided to install a third preform line, thus extending the size range to include 10.4- and 13.6-gram models».

Why do you have so much confidence in your partner SACMI?

«Firstly, it’s great to be able to count on a sole partner who can deliver the technology and handle product development, providing in-depth consultancy for every single stage. From a bottler’s perspective, this really makes the difference, as it’s not just a question of acquiring a technology: it’s also about developing the most suitable solution to respond to the specificities of a product, of a brand, and of putting this configuration at the service of the bottling line.
As I said, the market demands the highest quality from us, at the best price. This makes a partner like SACMI essential, as they have the ability to modify the neck-cap system (e.g. reduce its weight) while ensuring optimal results in terms of performance and the customer experience. The quality of on-site assistance should also be pointed out: we’ve always found SACMI’s technicians to be competent, helpful, fast-working and capable of working smoothly with our own team».

Are you planning further investments?

«The most important one is already in progress. This will involve the delivery of two further preform lines and two more cap lines within the year, bringing the total number of lines in operation to nine. Given the enormous success of phase one, we immediately set the bar higher... and found SACMI ready to respond immediately. For example, we’ve been working alongside the SACMI Lab to create a new type of ‘easy grip & easy open’ cap that’s light and innovatively designed. We were able to follow every single stage of development, assess the various alternatives and select the solution that best suited our needs. And that’s not all: we also requested and obtained a specific neck lightening for the new cap, thanks to our partner’s ability to work on both aspects».

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