When thinking of hotbeds for can manufacturing, Singapore might not be the first location that comes to mind.
The high costs of manufacturing and general focus on the services sector could see canmakers eschewing the country in favour of neighbours such as Malaysia and Vietnam. However, one stalwart of the industry still remains strong, and continues to find ways to leverage its expertise and experience to remain a bastion in the region.
MC Packaging, known as Metal Containers previously, was established in 1970. Initially the company embarked on the manufacturing of three-piece welded and lock-seam soldered, printed round and rectangular cans. After a few years, it expanded into manufacturing new products including cans for food, beverage and aerosols, irregularly-shaped cans, as well as crown caps, aluminium caps and twist-off caps.
In the early 1980s under the visionary leadership of its founder, the late Tar Choung Whang, MC Packaging started to set up various plants in Malaysia, Hong Kong and China. Apart from three-piece cans, a wide range of new products was added such as easy-open ends (EOEs) and two-piece aluminium beverage cans. Built on the bedrock of clear and strategic foresight, the group was thus able to build a strong and driven technical team to support these expansion efforts.
During the years of expansion, MC Packaging relied mainly on canmaking machines from Europe, the UK and US. The acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment and technology benefited the group immensely. Within a decade, MC Packaging’s name was well established and widely recognised internationally in the metal packaging industry.
Adapting to market changes
In the last 20 years, due to global market changes, MC Packaging began to consolidate its operations closer to home.
The company operates two subsidiaries in addition to its flagship operation in Singapore, one in Malaysia and another in China. With the evolution of the market away from three-piece cans, the company refocused on alternatives. Today, infant milk powder cans, peel-off lids, printed sheets, EOEs and a variety of more niche and high-end components have become our core products. In Singapore, MC Packaging has gained a strong foothold in infant milk powder can manufacturing, serving leading multinational companies.
In line with the high food safety expectations of its global customers, quality assurance has come to the forefront as top priority in MC Packaging’s standard operating procedures. Each of its plants are currently successfully accredited with ISO9001:2015, ISO:45001:2018, FSSC22000 V5.1, ISO50001:2018, SEDEX and various local accreditations.
The addition of in-line vision inspection systems is another clear example of this mindset. These systems check cans for a vast range of problems, including stains, rust spots, seaming or welding issues, and even printing defects, in such a detailed level that could not be executed manually. This enables our company to push the quality standards to a much higher level.
Today, the company is led not only by myself, but also our newest executive director and grandson of the company’s founder, Remus Whang. I’m fondly nicknamed ‘The Principal’ among the older generation of canmakers in China, due to my long standing expertise in turnkey project consultancy in the region and capacity to teach and advise younger generations. Meanwhile, Remus draws upon an investment banking and finance expertise to help shore up the corporate and financial capabilities of the business. His drive and passion to grow the company has resulted in numerous forays into new manufacturing and Industry 4.0 technologies. He has spearheaded our rebranding efforts as well as the hiring of the team, leading them to a brighter and more sustainable future.
Re-branding and the future
Since 1970, MC Packaging’s logo has been synonymous with our quality and commitment to customers. For more than 50 years the company delivered reliable metal packaging branded under the metallic silver ‘MC’.
However, MC Packaging continued to refine and improve, and as such, we felt that it was necessary to put forward a logo that represented the boundless progress that has been made. The more modern and vibrant “MC” logo reflects our fresh take to tackle the challenges of today, while still paying homage to and representing the same quality and commitment that customers have grown accustomed to expect from us over the last half a century.
However, the improvements go far beyond just the logo and brand. Big steps have been taken to improve processes and equipment to stay ahead in this new age. Intensive efforts on advanced technology and automation have been implemented to enable the company to be less reliant on manual operations. It has been working closely with many of the leading equipment manufacturers and systems integrators to improve the overall manufacturing process, production efficiency, and quality controls.
Sustainability is also a key area that MC Packaging is championing. Even though the core product of the company is one that is inherently environmentally friendly, MC Packaging is focused on ensuring that the processes, in addition to the product, are sustainable as we strive to reduce our carbon footprint and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. New initiatives such as building up renewable energy sources, and reducing material and energy wastage are all continuously being rolled out.
Beyond that, very much in the visionary spirit of its early days, MC Packaging continues to explore new forms and the latest developments in metal packaging. The company is constantly considering geographic expansion and partnership opportunities globally as the world begins to open up post pandemic. Our goal is to stay at the forefront of the industry and continue to forge ahead into the future.