“Contrary to the general market trend, our business continues to devel-op relatively well,” explained Hans-Joachim Boekstegers. “We are seeing very positive development in all the company's business units, and our production capacity is fully utilised. With a turnover of around 1.1 billion euros, the MULTIVAC Group was able to achieve in 2018 a growth in turnover of 8.5 percent over the previous year. Despite many economic and political uncertainties, we are expecting in the current business year an increase in turnover in the region of ten percent.”
Investment in the worldwide production network
The continued expansion of production capacity has a high priority in the future as well. In 2018, a new production site in Bulgaria was put into operation, which comprises a factory building for the production of parts for the Group, as well as a state-of-the-art logistics center, a training facility and an administration building. A new Center of Excellence for slicers and automation solutions is currently under construction at the Wolfertschwenden site, and this is due for completion in 2020. The floor space of more than 17,000 square metres will also create 180 high-quality office workstations, as well as conference and function rooms which will be capable of being used very flexibly. At the Bruckmühl site, the administration and production for the MULTIVAC daughter company TVI will be concentrated on around 9,000 square metres on a greenfield site. Currently, a new Center of Excellence for meat portioning machines is being built there that is also due to be put into operation in 2020. A highlight will be the Application Center designed according to customer requirements. MULTIVAC is also currently planning to manufacture packaging machines and peripheral components in Taicang (China). In addition to manufacturing, the facility will also have development and design departments. The start of production is planned for the end of 2019.
Closed-loop system for plastic packs
“In the current debate about plastic packs there are some important aspects, which are often not taken into consideration,” explained Hans-Joachim Boekstegers. “Plastic packs can for example extend the shelf life of food products considerably and contribute to less food waste.” He added that the packaging industry has already made major progress in improving its processes and significantly reducing the consumption of plastics in the production of packs. “Packaging concepts have to take the entire life cycle of a pack into account and also focus on the aspect of product protection,” said Hans-Joachim Boekstegers. “Our machines are designed in such a way, that even today they can already run alternative packaging materials or at least be converted to run them. Thanks to our many years of experience in packaging technology, we are able to offer our customers added value by supporting them in developing sustainable packaging, which provides maximum product protection with the minimum pack footprint.” The MULTIVAC product range includes many sustainable packaging concepts, which make a major contribution to reducing material usage when producing packs. Other concepts are based on the use of renewable raw materials or fully recyclable films such as for example mono plastics, or alternatively paper fibre-based packaging materials.
MULTIVAC X-line and MULTIVAC Pack Pilot
Guido Spix gave an overview of the product highlights on the exhibition stand: “Digitalisation is a fundamental component for MULTIVAC in the development of new products, and it is therefore systematically incorporated into all packaging solutions. Following our presentation of the RX 4.0 thermoforming packaging machine at interpack in 2017, we are now showing the TX 710 traysealer, which is a further machine in the X-line series. The features of this new traysealer are a robust machine concept and an intelligent control system, which together provide the maximum flexibility, output and reliability.”
MULTIVAC Pack Pilot is cloud-based software, which is available for both machines in the X-line series, and which supports operators in setting up the packaging machine to the optimum degree. It ensures that the highest possible output is achieved, as well as consistently high pack quality and maximum process reliability.
Last but not least, at IFFA the TX 710 traysealer was given the renowned “Meat Technology Award 2019” in the packaging technology category.
Complete solutions for the slicing and packing of meat and sausage
Three packaging lines are also exhibited in Frankfurt, and a slicer or portioner is integrated in each of them. In addition to the efficient linking of the slicing or portioning system with the downstream packaging machine, particular attention must always be paid to ensuring, that the sliced or portioned products are transferred gently and accurately into the pack cavities. MULTIVAC offers various groundbreaking solutions for this purpose, such as for example the MULTIVAC Horizontal Loader or various handling solutions, which ensure that the sliced or portioned products are loaded gently and hygienically into the pack cavities - and all this with the minimum of footprint.
MULTIVAC is one of the founding members of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance
As part of its digitalisation strategy and in conjunction with other European companies from the machinery, software and industrial automation sectors, MULTIVAC has entered into a detailed cooperation agreement to drive forward the formation of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance. “Its members intend to create a standardised and open eco system for the operation of highly automated factories, equipment and logistics centers. The aim is to overcome isolated proprietary applications and ensure that up to 80 percent of the machines in a smart factory speak the same language,” explained Guido Spix. On the basis of existing standards such as I/O Link, OPC UA and RAMI, the companies plan to intro-duce a socalled Open Industry 4.0 Framework.