People development pays off for Thermopac

People development

Executive Summary
Thermopac is one of three plants belonging to Astraforming, a division of Astrapak. Themopac was intent on retaining its leading position in the thermoformed packaging market. However, training and people development needed improvement to drive factory efficiencies to more competitive levels. A WCM programme, powered by CCi’s Integrative Improvement System, TRACC, was implemented, and crucial to the programme was the focus on team building. Thermopac further invested in factory facilities upgrades, and introduced a balanced scorecard approach and an award scheme. Significant results included reduced manufacturing costs and lead times, and increased business efficiency and bottom line profits.

Thermoforming efficiency up from 52% to 80%
Extrusion efficiency increased from 71% to 95%


The company operates in an increasingly competitive industry where it is no longer sufficient to rely on good quality and low prices alone. Speed of delivery is an important new business generator, which demands a stronger focus on increased efficiencies in operations.

Intent on retaining its leading position in the thermoformed packaging market, Thermopac was quick to recognise the need for improvement in training and skills amongst the workforce, teamwork, HR and communications, and people empowerment. Top management was highly competent in driving business results, but there was little sense of shared responsibility between management and the workforce. The company required more sophisticated systems. There was also a need to build people relationships and competencies so as to create a more participative environment in which to drive factory efficiencies to more competitive levels.

ActionPeople development
Thermopac embarked on a lifelong journey towards World Class Manufacturing (WCM) with TRACC several years ago. The implementation involved the establishment of world class systems and practices, as well as the development of those skills needed to establish and improve on these. The TRACC Integrative Improvement System was designed to enable the implementation of operational best practices. It included, for example, the TRACC best practices of Set-up Time Reduction, Teamwork, 5S and Visual Management.

Improved measurement and control systems, in line with WCM standards, have focused the training, making it meaningful to staff and increasing personal productivity and company efficiency. 

– Alan Booth, Former Operations Manager 


Crucial to the WCM programme was the focus on team building. Physical team centres were created for all teams company-wide and team leaders were appointed to each. A culture of regular team meetings and communication was encouraged, allowing groups to continuously review their performance and log actions to be taken. The team-based organisational structures have since created a significant number of new positions and advancement opportunities.

Thermopac further invested in upgrading factory facilities and the plant to create a cleaner, work-friendly environment. This laid the foundation for improved operations and efficiency. Performance is now measured across the entire company through a balanced scorecard approach linked to all levels of the company, from top management to team level. The development of an award scheme, linked to performance drivers such as production efficiency and reduction of external customer complaints, has resulted in enhanced earnings for all.

The ongoing training has resulted in greater efficiencies through reduced manufacturing costs and lead times, improved factory capacity and availability, as well as better quality products. Thermoforming efficiency increased from 52% to a current level of 80%, while extrusion efficiency increased from 71% to 95%.

“Improved measurement and control systems, in line with WCM standards, have focused the training, making it meaningful to staff and increasing personal productivity and company efficiency. By constantly developing skills as a multiphased people and organisational development process, we intend to sustain continuous improvement,” said Former Operations Manager, Alan Booth.

Thermopac now holds an annual factory team building event. The factory is shut for a full two days, giving people time to come together and talk about their achievements or frustrations, and to develop new strategies. The sustained benefits of WCM at Thermopac can clearly be seen in long-term productivity, loyalty, efficiency, continuous improvement and bottom line profits for all.


Company Background
Astraforming is one of three divisions of Astrapak Limited and is categorised as a Rigids product manufacturer. Astraforming has three plants in South Africa – Thermopac, Plastform and Marcom Plastics. Thermopac specialises in the production of custom-moulded rigid thermoformed PET clear packaging containers and the extrusion of plastic sheeting for the general thermoforming market. It manufactures some 2000 PET-based products used mainly for the fresh and prepared food, bakery and confectionery industries, as well as for pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

This resource has been prepared for general guidance on matters of interest only, and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained herein without obtaining specific professional advice. Competitive Capabilities International (CCI) does not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this resource or for any decision based on it.

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