In an exclusive conversation with the editor of FBP magazine Mr. Maarten Verbruggen speaks about the role of palletizers in food production and its benefits.
- Please give us a brief overview about your company.
Verbruggen offers the best solutions for palletizing boxes, bags or crates by automatic stacking methods. We have more than 25 years of experience developing the most efficient, long lasting palletizers with unprecedented stacking capacities. We have provided many different palletization solutions worldwide within the agricultural and industrial sectors (such as (seed) potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, grains, bulbs, dairy products, nuts and animal feed) offering customers the best in automated solutions for stacking the most difficult products. As an international and progressive team, we provide innovative and customized solutions to best meet the needs and requirement of our clients. Our team of engineers are continually innovating and developing our machines allowing us to offer the most technically advanced & effective palletizing solutions possible.
- What are the ranges of product you are manufacturing?
We manufacture palletizers and wrapping machines for bags, boxes and crates. We offer a wide range of possibilities & options such as customized layout, semi or fully-automatic operation, wrapping machines and added equipment pieces including strapping machines, even flow units & check weigher. Do you have a need for palletizing both bags and boxes using a single machine? No problem with our dual-purpose Combi-Manipulator including hands-free programming selection. Interested in high-capacity stacking? Ask about our VPM machine offering high-speed stacking up to 70 bags per minute (depending on bag size).
- Please brief us about your sales & service networks around the world.
Machines need to be reliable and ready for production at all times. Therefore, our team of highly skilled service engineers are ready 24/6 to support our customers worldwide ensuring that machines are in optimum operating conditions, and are ready to receive & stack your products. Any one of our experienced Service Engineers are ready to assist with on-site service support when required, although the majority of service calls are now being resolved remotely. Remote service accessibility is standard on all our machines allowing Engineers to login and access machine condition, troubleshoot with you on-site & update machine settings if necessary. This allows for very quick & efficient service support eliminating the need for unnecessary on-site visits.
Furthermore, we have facilities located in Europe (Emmeloord), United States (Washington State) and Asia (Dhaka), an international Sales Team and a strong worldwide distributor network. So, we are able to serve our (potential) customers in their own language.
- How important is the role of Palletizers in food production and how the manufacturers get benefits out of it?
Palletizers in the food industry improve the sanitary designs making the ideal for work. The lower cost, small footprint and high throughput makes them attractive to manufactures looking to increase their efficiency. The help in reducing the contamination from human contact with food products. According to a report, 2 out of 3 manufacturing locations either have palletizing installed, plan to install more, or plan to add them into their palletizing operations in the future. A wide variety of end of arm tools are capable of handling anywhere from single products to full rows, and even entire layers of product depending on customer needs. The use of palletizing brings increased end-of-line efficiency as well as improved flexibility and cost savings.
- How you see the Indian food processing industry as a destination for your products?
At present, companies across industries such as food and beverage, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals are largely dependent on human labour for stacking up of SKUs on pallets. And with human population increasing at an alarming rate in India, along with increasing middle-class population, companies are facing the need to implement automated packaging machines like palletizers to address faster market turnaround time. Such measures will drive the Indian palletizing equipment market towards the upward trajectory in the coming years.
- What are the major challenges you face selling your products in the food & beverages industry in Asia pacific region, especially in India and how you compete with the other manufacturers?
To start marketing in india one company need to be very economical while pricing their equipment. As india market is very sensitive to price, the first step we took was to start manufacturing of our machine in india. By doing this we can surely compete with our competitor which are in Indian market since long.
Currently in India, different industries are currently automated till the automatic filling machine, due to this to give them an end of line automation is still not feasible. We should study the different industries which are looking for the end of line automation and thus provide them our solution.
- Do you have a R&D team? Please tell us their contribution for developing new and innovative products?
The V’s in our logo form the Technovation circle that symbolizes both Technique and Innovation. This combination is a fundamental characteristic of the Verbruggen Team. With more than 50 highly skilled professionals in-house, we have widespread knowledge in all areas of engineering, design and controls. This enables us to build high-quality machines through continuous innovations resulting in smart & efficient palletizing processes. Long-term machine refinements have also allowed us to achieve very long lasting, reliable machines. Cutting-edge control technologies, efficient equipment design and the latest innovations have also brought production capacities to unparalleled levels allowing a quick return on investment and many years of reliable equipment operation.
- What are your firm’s recent achievements and future plans?
Our firm eye on the ergonomic issues of workers lifting and reaching comprise incentives for manufacturers investing in palletizing and de-palletizing applications. “Palletizing is a repetitive task, an ergonomic concern. Throughput with a Verbruggen palletizer is much higher than with a person using a lift assist,”. In a similar vein, it can be said, “Handling cases over a day means handling a lot of weight. Manufacturer have great difficulty to get and retain people to work in these conditions. Turnover rates are very high as are the costs of training and retraining workers. Just one back injury can cost as much as one robotic palletizing system.”
Furthermore, Verbruggen palletizing applications are a continuing bright spot for the automation industry. “Palletizing applications are definitely a growth area. In 2009, the whole automation industry declined by huge percentage. Despite that decline, palletizing applications came back with flying colours. “This application grows by as much as seven percent a year and we see five to seven percent growth in palletizing applications in the next five years.”