In what have traditionally been seen as mature packaging machinery markets, there is a UK company that has taken a fresh perspective on customers' needs.
In doing so, Packaging Automation Ltd (PA) is beginning to fulfill its potential with a bold strategy that has re-written the rule book on filling and sealing systems.
PA, whose equipment is distributed in Australia by MPI, has completed the first phase of a five-year business strategy with the launch of the Fastfill100 high-speed filling, pot sealing and overcapping machine at the UK's PPMA Show. The Fastfill100 is the third machine in the new generation Fastfill range.
Now, with continuous development at the core of its philosophy, PA is pushing forward again with the appointment of Phil Markham as technical manager for the volumetric division to further develop the company's range of filling and sealing equipment.
Phil commented that he has two main objectives, with the first being to look at ways of enhancing the existing equipment where possible. It is clearly well designed and operates effectively and now he wants to get a feel for customers' long-term experiences to see if there is anything else, he can do to review machine performance and advance its functionality. He will also be looking at new equipment development to expand the range.
Phil will start from a strong platform, as PA's general manager commented that the volumetric filling side of the business is growing apace both in the UK and overseas, alongside their traditional tray sealing equipment.
PA has been ramping up its position in Europe with increasing market penetration by exploiting the potential of its revolutionary Fastfill range of equipment. The 43-year-old company has radically expanded from its traditional UK base, as PA continues its onward march towards meeting market needs.
The Fastfill100 is the third machine in the new generation rotary Fastfill range and follows the earlier launches of the Fastfill40 and Fastfill60 machines, which are proving extremely popular. The range embraces filling rates from 2,400pph to 56,000pph with the Fastfill100.
PA said that the extensive market research it carried out before the Fastfill range development began, enabled it to identify deficiencies between user expectations and the functions of machinery currently available. That preparation also allowed it to see shortfalls in the service levels customers typically receive.
PA's general manager commented that PA wants to revolutionise the industry by offering a customer-driven approach that addresses the failings of machinery currently available, challenges traditional designs and offers service levels users have a right to expect. Entering the rotary volumetric filling market was a bold move but a positive statement of its intent that PA will not be hidebound by what has become accepted practices and principles.
PA's volumetric equipment technical sales engineer expanded further that PA has studied those areas of the food market that have a great speed of product and packaging development, this showed that pot filling is a dynamic and growing segment. That is why they structured PA to be flexible with a guaranteed rapid response, which is facilitated by the majority of its production being undertaken in-house, from the small component to metal fabrication.
PA's strategy to radically overhaul the filling machinery market is also reflected in the new customer-driven enhancements to its successful Starwheel rotary filling, sealing and overlidding machine.
The Starwheel can be supplied in either a single or a double starwheel format and can achieve a speed of up to 100 rigid walled and non de-nestable containers per minute. It is based on the same principles as the Fastfill range and is popular amongst dairy companies, as well as producers of soups, mineral waters, fruit juices and sauces, as well as chocolate, vodka shots, sandwich fillings, clotted cream and baby foods. It has additionally been successful with non-food products, such as cosmetics, household cleaning products and jewellery polish.
PA comments that there is nothing that is off-the-shelf about the Starwheel as they can design it in many different formats, each chosen to suit its customers' individual requirements. PA can supply it with fillers and a number of closure options, including film feed, pre-cut diaphragms, as well as clip-on overlids for a broad range of pot sizes.
As market leaders in the design and manufacture of tray sealing and filling equipment, PA believes there is great emphasis on its ability to respond in effective, collaborative way with customers, which is why it often acts as a packaging consultant to customers, especially, where there are packaging material problems that need advice and assistance on a customer's site.
At the heart of this service is a specialist packaging advisory team that can provide help with the selection of containers and materials. PA has its own qualified packaging technologists, whose role is also to network with all key packaging suppliers, to keep abreast of developments. Those suppliers frequently use the PA in-house and on-site trials service to test newly developed materials, to ensure they are compatible with other existing packaging materials.
It is PA's overall perspective of the market and its deliberate positioning at the heart of the industry and its developments that makes it confident that its volumetric filling and lidding division will continue to prosper. At the same time, its leadership in tray sealing technology provides an edge alongside its volumetric systems to enable filling and lidding of all types of commercially available containers.