The founding of a business unit for slicers was another important strategic step for MULTIVAC in the direction of “Better Processing”. This means the packaging specialist is now in a position to offer complete packaging lines for sliced products such as cheese, sliced meats and ham from one single source. We spoke to Tom Stachel, Head of Slicer Business Unit, about the objectives of this new business unit.
In recent months we have laid the foundation for our new slicing business. Due to the successful acquisition of VC999’s slicer activities at the end of 2017, there has been a significant acceleration in building up the new business unit. In concrete terms this means we now have the necessary structure to be able to supply customers with innovative slicing solutions from MULTIVAC itself.
While the manufacturing of prototype slicers will continue to be at the Buchenau site, the mass production of slicers will take place in future at MULTIVAC’s headquarters in Wolfertschwenden. Extensive investment for this in a highly modern production site is being planned, including a state-of-the-art facility for application technology. In Wolfertschwenden there are already complete slicer lines available for carrying out packaging trials for our customers.
We have assembled a highly qualified development and design team, and we will continue to ramp up our resources in all areas over the medium term. Thanks to the structure of our Sales organisation, we already have a global network, which is in close contact with the market.
We had already linked slicers to our packaging machines in the past, and this enabled us to offer added value to our customers. It was therefore a logical step for us to expand our product portfolio by adding the hardware. This means our customers can benefit from our expertise in line integration and from our excellent access to the market.
We proceeded in the same way with solutions for meat portioning – we incorporated these into our product range at the beginning of 2017 through the acquisition of a majority share in TVI. Our objective is quite simply to offer the optimum support to our customers through integrated solutions from one source.
With its entry into the slicer business, MULTIVAC is fulfilling an essential precondition in optimising the degree of slicer integration in automated packaging lines. The aim is not just to reduce the footprint of automatic slicer lines, but also to increase the output capability of these solutions. It is also a fundamental factor in the success of this, that all the line components from our company, i.e. the slicer, loading solution and packaging machine, run via uniform control platform.
As already mentioned, we want to create added value for our customers through our expertise in packaging machines and our experience in line integration. This applies not only to the function and integration of the entire line, but also to service work and the supply of spare parts.
At the moment we are concentrating on slicers in the medium and upper output range, where we see the largest market potential at present. We will cover the requirements of this market sector with our own slicer, which we are presenting at Anuga FoodTec 2018. To round off the slicer range, we have recently completed further strategic alliances with partners in the industry. Latterly we have been offering the BIZERBA slicer portfolio worldwide in the smaller output range, and these slicers perfectly complement our portfolio of packaging machines for the production of small and medium-sized batches. In order to meet the requirements in the high-output sector, MULTIVAC is also marketing FORMAX slicers from PROVISUR in selected regions.
In addition to this, we have already developed over recent years a wide range of concepts for loading sliced products into pack cavities. We will also be presenting some of these innovative concepts at Anuga FoodTec, such as our Horizontal Loader, which offers our customers significant advantages over existing loading solutions. Our product range also includes solutions for manual loading, as well as Delta-axis and 2-axis robots, or belt loaders designed to meet the individual requirements of our customers.
The next step will be to expand our product portfolio to include a smaller MULTIVAC slicer for the lower to medium output range, where we will be focusing not only on its functional capability but also its integration in the overall line.
Clearly the focus is on those markets, where we have traditionally been active in the past. In addition to this however, we will also gradually create the basis for the same success in those other countries and regions, where we have not as yet been active.
By using the more than 80 subsidiaries worldwide, we will present our customers with solutions from one source, and we will therefore significantly strengthen our sales activities, particularly in the core markets for slicers. Thanks to our strong Sales and Service network, which has a presence in all parts of the world, I am looking forward to an exciting and successful future.
We will be presenting the first slicer from MULTIVAC in March 2018 at Anuga FoodTec. There, we will be showing a fully automated line for the automated slicing and packing of products such as cheese, ham, and other sliced products. Compared to conventional slicing solutions on the market, this line is characterised by its significantly reduced footprint. The MULTIVAC solution will consist of a SL 800 slicer, a R 245 thermoforming packaging machine, a horizontal loader, and a compact L 330 conveyor belt labeller. The H 130 handling module is used to load packs into boxes.
In addition to this, we will also offer our customers sample productions and machine demonstrations in Wolfertschwenden. Further products and applications to complement our product portfolio will gradually follow in 2019 and 2020.
I am personally very excited about the presentation of the first MULTIVAC line, since we are using the trade fair as a platform to exhibit the first completely new product innovation as part of a fully integrated line solution. Our aim is to present to our customers an innovative concept of a fully automatic line, which features a wide range of benefits and in particular a smaller footprint.
In parallel with this, the first projects are already running with some customers, and the high level of interest from the market shows the entry into the slicer business was the correct decision. In addition to meeting the many challenges, which are associated with developing this business sector, our focus over the coming months and years will be to further cultivate customer relations, which we have had for many years in the slicing sector.
At MULTIVAC we see our responsibility as being to offer our customers the optimum support, both now and in the future, for the machines that we have supplied. This means we will continue to provide an extensive supply of new cutting blades, as well as a comprehensive servicing and repair service for existing blades. For me, the word “reliability” is crucial here, and we will do everything to make sure the reliability demanded by our customers is assured.