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Scaling up: sacks and skills – part 1

World Cement,


The latest order of AD*STAR production machinery from Starlinger by Nigeria’s Dangote Group, the biggest producer of AD*STAR cement bags in the world, is the most recent chapter in a long-standing and successful cooperation between the two companies.

Starlinger & Co. GmbH is currently supplying machinery for the production of 240 million AD*STAR bags/year to Dangote Agro Sacks Limited, the Dangote Group’s packaging business. According to Olakunle Alake, COO of Dangote Group, the new equipment has been purchased to meet the capacity expansions in its cement operations. “The high production output and efficiency of the new ad*starKON SX bag conversion lines will help us to scale down packaging production costs and waste,” Mr Alake said.

The scope of delivery also comprises a recoSTAR universal recycling unit to recycle production waste in the sack production plant, as well as three dynaFLEX DX printing lines, which will ensure high quality bag printing for the new designs that Dangote is using for different cement grades. The new AD*STAR bags will feature three-colour printing on each side, following the standards recently established by Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) with the aim of preventing incidents of building collapse. In line with these standards, all cement bags sold on the Nigerian market require a certain colour code to make it easier for consumers to identify the different cement types and thus combat the widespread lack of awareness about the different uses of the various cement grades.

The machinery will be installed at Dangote’s Obajana and Ibese cement production plants. When production starts on the new equipment, scheduled for the end of 1Q15, Dangote Agro Sacks Limited will have a total production capacity of 560 million AD*STAR bags/year, which will be used for packaging 26 million t of cement. Dangote ships 100% of the packaged cement in AD*STAR bags.

In addition to catering to the Nigerian cement mills, Dangote plans to supply AD*STAR bags from the Nigerian bag production plants to all new Dangote cement plants across Africa where feasible.

Bags for high-tech cement production

Dangote has been using AD*STAR bags for cement packaging since 1998. “AD*STAR bags are more durable, user-friendly and efficient in cement packaging,” said Mr Alake. The brick-shaped block bottom valve bags made of coated and printed polypropylene tape fabric are ideal for the high degree of automation of modern cement filling stations, such as the new Haver & Boecker rotopackers that Dangote recently installed. The high strength and resistance of AD*STAR bags significantly reduces breakage rates and allows for high stacking heights even though they are thinner and weigh a lot less than paper or polyethylene film bags. The fully automated truck loaders recently installed in the packing lines ensure proper bag stacking on the trucks and help to keep possible damages in transit to a minimum. Dangote is also using new in-line bag checkweighers on the cement packing lines to ensure accurate weight measurement of the 50 kg bags. In addition, trials are being conducted with automatic bag placers on packing lines at the Ibese cement plant, with the aim of improving the overall productivity of the packing plant.

Bag production close to the cement mill

Recently, Dangote moved the entire AD*STAR bag production from Lagos to the Ibese plant in order to achieve greater efficiency and to be able to deliver the highest quality of bags to the nearby cement mill. Producing the bags close to the cement mill is a concept that has already proven to be successful at Dangote’s Obajana facility. As the cement mill has its own power plant it can rely on a constant and stable power supply without voltage fluctuations for the production machinery, which is a great advantage. Other benefits include short transport distances and a quick reaction time in case the bags do not meet the specifications, or if changes need to be made on short notice.

Dangote started its own packaging production in 2001. “The decision to produce our own bags was based on the possibility to control our entire supply chain, not only for cement but other products in the Group,” explained Mr Alake. Today, Dangote Agro Sacks Ltd supplies environmentally-friendly woven polypropylene bags for the group’s entire internal consumption, i.e. for packaging cement, flour, sugar, salt, etc. Besides the AD*STAR block bottom valve bags, bag types include open mouth sewn bags, jumbo bags and shopping bags.

Note: AD*STAR® is a registered trademark and produced exclusively on Starlinger machines.

Read part 2 here.

Written by Sigrid Eder, Starlinger & Co. GmbH, Austria. This is an abridged version of the full article, which appeared in the May 2015 issue of World Cement. Subscribers can read the full article by logging in. They can also read the magazine on smart phones and tablets by downloading World Cement’s app.

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