Spicy goat’s cheese wrapped in bacon, escargots, filled puff pastry products and sweet soufflés: the tasty antipasti and snacks from IDPAK are very popular with Belgian consumers, meaning that demand is also high - particularly since the company offers its products in new and attractive packaging and knows how to differentiate itself in the retail sector from the competition. IDPAK has been able to more than double its capacity in the last five years: every month around 375,000 trays leave the factory in Andenne, which IDPAK shares thanks to its cooperation since 2009 with Fournipac.
The fact that “small” IDPAK can assert itself so well in competition with large food producers should not be taken lightly: the company employs people who require very special inclusion and for whose protection it is necessary to offer stress-free work. This places considerable demands on the production environment, particularly on the machinery used. CEO Dirk Maes sheds some light on the challenge: “We orientate the tasks in production towards the needs of our staff. This means for example, the speed and cycling of our packaging machines must be capable of being adapted very flexibly to the product being packed, to the number of workers on the line and to the required output. It is only in this way that we can re-establish every day a new work rhythm, which enables the products to be manufactured on time, but which also reduces the stress load on our staff to a minimum.”
With the assistance of MULTIVAC, it has been possible for IDPAK to gradually build up an array of machines since 2009 which meet these requirements and are both highly flexible and homogeneous at the same time, while offering uncomplicated operation and simple servicing. “At the beginning, we used machines with a medium-sized capacity, but later we wanted to move step by step to packaging solutions which would enable us to achieve higher output and in particular, more flexibility,” recalls Estelle Willem, who is in charge of production. This meant the machines had to come from one supplier if possible, meaning the costs for servicing, spare parts and administration could be minimised.
Today, five years later, IDPAK has a highly modern array of machines with several MULTIVAC T 700 traysealers and the latest T 600 model. Close and trusting cooperation has grown up with the Belgian subsidiary of MULTIVAC: “From the start, MULTIVAC has supported us with flexible and unbureaucratic solutions for building up our range of machines,” reports Estelle Willem. IDPAK began their relationship with MULTIVAC by renting machines - including labelling solutions from MULTIVAC Marking & Inspection and gradually several T 700 traysealers. This enabled the company to become familiar with the technology and technical service provided by MULTIVAC at a relatively low cost. “In the final analysis, it is not just about the machine but also the support from the service technicians,” emphasizes Estelle Willem.
IDPAK gradually acquired several T 700 traysealers; at the beginning of 2014 the purchase of a T 600 was then under consideration. The latest technology on the machine, as well as the simple handling during production and die changes were the decisive factors when choosing
MULTIVAC. “The T 600 is equipped with the same display for the machine control as on the T 700 models. This makes changing between the lines much simpler, allowing staff to master the process sequences on all the lines very easily,” explains Bart Princen, Project Manager at MULTIVAC Belgium. Thanks to the proven drawer system, die changes are very simple to carry out. The control cabinet is also mounted on the side of this model, which has the advantage that electrical and pneumatic components are centrally accessible, which makes troubleshooting and other work much easier. The T 600 meets the highest hygiene standards and was developed in accordance with the pioneering MULTIVAC Hygienic Design™. The machine is therefore capable of being washed down completely. All hygiene critical parts and areas are easily accessible.
In order to meet the special production conditions at IDPAK, the packaging specialist adapted the T 600 in all the required areas: the belt system was lengthened and the programs, which control the speed of the machine, were adjusted to the needs of IDPAK. Before the machine was put into service, the design and safety aspects underwent a further critical test with regard to possible risks for the operators - ensuring all safety precautions met the requirements of this working environment, which is rather different from any ordinary working environment. “Before we embarked on this investment, we had long consultations with MULTIVAC about which concrete adaptations were necessary in view of the machine functions, as well as the types of product to be packed. It is our aim to always have state-of-the-art technology. Although we are ‘only’ a small company compared with the international MULTIVAC Group, we are always treated on an equal footing,” says Estelle Willem with praise.
IDPAK has been using the new machine since Spring 2014, primarily for delicate products such as goat cheese wrapped in bacon, escargots or puff pastry products, which are loaded by hand and packed at a low cycle speed - the T 600 operates at 30 to 36 trays per minute. The T 600 is very flexible when it comes to the choice of packaging concept: it can produce MAP packs with and without LID film, Isopak skin packs and also packs with the Slicepac concept. Various cutting tools permit the manufacture of tray packages both with protruding film (outside cut) and without it (inside cut). “We have learned how to fully utilise the possibilities of this technology,” says Estelle Willem, summing up the machine’s flexibility. “The sophisticated machine concept - as regards both the mechanics and the electronics - has opened up new opportunities for us to pack a wide range of different products.”
At the start, there were several hurdels to overcome, some of which were associated with the production situation at IDPAK. But the MULTIVAC customer service was always quickly on site if there were questions or technical problems. “This was of enormous help to us,” praises Estelle Willem.
Thanks to its array of machines, IDPAK has been able to expand its production in the last five years, and is now well equipped for the future. The final summary from CEO Dirk Maes: “The traysealers have enabled us to double our production capacity and to pursue continual growth for our company in the last five years. This technology has accompanied us throughout our development. We know that we can rely on MULTIVAC for future challenges as well.”