A new Application Center for Slicing and Automation Solutions, which will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology, is currently being built at the MULTIVAC headquarters in Wolfertschwenden on an area of more than 17,000 square metres. The investment for the new building amounts to around 35 million euros.
The production area for large-scale manufacture of slicers, which is due to be put into operation by the end of 2019, comprises a total of 7,500 square metres. In addition to customised sample productions, machine demonstrations and slicing tests, the range of services on offer will also include different training programs for slicers and slicer lines. MULTIVAC customers will be able in future to experience the complete process chain live in climate-controlled rooms under real production conditions. This will extend from the demonstration of the various slicers handling a wide range of products, through to the presentation of different loading solutions downstream of the slicer, and right up to the actual packaging procedure itself: and the facility will also enable individual machines or complete lines to be put into service for final test purposes. It will be possible to carry out comprehensive trials on the slicing solutions to evaluate them for feasibility, output, return on investment, give-away, and other aspects, and this will then enable the slicing and packaging results to be coordinated to the optimum degree.
At the same time the roots are also being put down for a successful, long-term future at the Buchenau site in the central region of Hesse. In future this site will handle not only the production of prototype slicers, but also the manufacture of its own products in the slicer range. The planned move to a new building with state-of-the-art offices and significantly larger production and warehouse areas is only the first step, and it provides a clear commitment to this production and development site.
In parallel with this, MULTIVAC is also strengthening its personnel structure in Buchenau and Wolfertschwenden, and it is building up specialised design and development teams for slicers. In 2019 a total of some 120 staff, who will be engaged solely in slicers and loading equipment, will be employed in the areas of development, design and assembly. “The resources in all areas are being systematically expanded since the Slicer Business Unit is developing very satisfactorily,” says Tom Stachel, Vice President of the Slicer Business Unit. Aftersales for the machines in the market, which were already installed, has since been taken over by MULTIVAC.
As regards activities in slicing, MULTIVAC currently operates primarily in Europe and Central and South America. But the spotlight is already being focused on the markets in North America and Asia. In future, MULTIVAC will be able to offer its slicing expertise and associated services to its customers in these regions as well. Demonstration machines for sample productions and application tests are currently being put into service worldwide.
In parallel with this, MULTIVAC will also expand its expertise in both the high-output and medium-output segments, in order to fully capitalize on complete line business. “There we see large market potential, as well,” explains Tom Stachel. “As regards the lower-output segment, we will continue in future to work together with strategic partners in the industry, so that we can offer market-oriented solutions to our customers."
The first slicer line from MULTIVAC, which was exhibited at Anuga FoodTec 2018, for the automated slicing and packing of products such as cheese, ham, and other sliced products aroused a high level of interest within the market. This complete line solution combined a high-output S 800 slicer with a R 245 thermoforming packaging machine, a horizontal loader, and a compact L 330 conveyor belt labeller. The coordinated line components can be controlled very easily and with great process reliability via the packaging machine's open IPC control and user-friendly HMI 2.0. This is a major success factor as regards higher efficiency and process reliability, and it offers real added value for MULTIVAC customers. Compared to conventional slicing solutions on the market, the line is also characterised by its outstanding slicing and packaging quality and by its significantly reduced footprint.
As a high-output model, the S 800 offers a slicing speed of up to 850 cuts per minute. The machine's portioning system, which is servo-driven and can also be raised and lowered, is able to perform virtually any portioning task - from precise placement of slices in shingled portions or stacks, through to shingling of wafer-thin cut product, and right up to folding of individual slices. It enables stacks up to a height of 80 mm to be produced, as well as high shingled portions and large bulk packs of product. The product infeed is performed in a highly controlled and compression-free process, using servo-driven product infeed units, and the hygiene design of the overall system is completed by the absence of any pneumatic connections for the grippers.
But it is not only the detailed technical solutions, which make the S 800 one of the most attractive slicers on the market, but rather the overall concept of simple operation, great flexibility, rapid set-up times, and outstanding slicing results for all applications. MULTIVAC customers also benefit from the packaging specialist's comprehensive expertise in automation equipment and packaging lines. MULTIVAC's wide product range offers integrated solutions from one source - from slicers to packaging machines and right through to end-of-line equipment. This ensures the optimum interaction of all the processes is achieved very consistently, which in turn guarantees a high level of overall line efficiency.
When it comes to loading portions of sliced products into the pack cavities, MULTIVAC offers a wide range of innovative loading systems and highly flexible robotic loading solutions. Depending on the requirements of the particular customer project, MULTIVAC can also provide a wide range of end-of-line equipment, such as labelling, marking, and inspection systems, as well as a diverse range of automation solutions for box packing and palletisation. As a supplier of complete lines, MULTIVAC develops and installs the full packaging solution and even undertakes at customer's request a wide range of servicing work after installation.
MULTIVAC not only offers an extensive range of its own system components, but is also an experienced engineering partner, which integrates the modules of other manufacturers into its complete lines. These could, for example, be various types of buffer and distribution systems, or modular components for overlapping the portions or interleaving individual slices. MULTIVAC is also able to design specially customized solutions with a particularly small footprint, if for example there is restricted space in the production environment. The range of services offered by MULTIVAC also includes comprehensive aftersales servicing of the packaging solution throughout its entire life cycle.
“The benefits of our slicer line are highly convincing. Immediately after the last trade fair we registered a very high number of enquiries for slicing trials, from which several orders have already resulted,” says Tom Stachel in summary. At IFFA 2019 MULTIVAC will be presenting further innovations in the slicer and slicing line sectors. “We want to position ourselves very clearly in the market with our highly developed expertise in slicing and packaging lines, and therefore underline that in future we will continue to produce outstanding solutions for this sector. As with other areas of MULTIVAC, we are stepping up to assume market leadership.” It is the declared aim of MULTIVAC to increase still further the degree of slicer integration into automated packaging lines, and thereby create even more added value for MULTIVAC customers.