The value of a filling machine for Start Ups and Small and Medium Enterprises: here the characteristics
Contents of the article
Manufacturers that choose aseptic carton packaging for their milk and juice products require high-performance machinery and a partner that offers technical support, to fully meet their challenging production needs. Out of all the businesses in the large, complex beverage industry, this is especially true for Start Ups and SMEs (small to medium-size enterprises).
In addition to those already working in the industry looking to grow their business, companies entering today’s packaged milk and juice market need to install production lines that ensure reliability, compact footprint, efficiency, excellent customer service and ease of use, with an eye to keeping the initial investment low.
Aseptic filling machines are without a doubt one of the main pieces of equipment in a packaging plant. Let’s take a look at the most common needs of Start Ups and SMEs, and the main characteristics of machines that match these needs.
What are the main needs of Start Ups and SMEs?
One of the main things that Start Ups look for is an experienced company that can provide aseptic filling machines and also offer a full suite of services to simplify the production ramp up.
Those who need to design a packaging line to start their own business not only seek a complete set of machinery, but also a single partner that can offer support during the project management while also guaranteeing security in the installation and production phases.
Another key factor for all businesses is the reliability of the filling equipment. In the competitive aseptic carton packaging industry, having a low-quality filling machine that doesn’t meet the desired standards is a major problem because it results in lower production yields and greater costs and loss of competitiveness.
Working with a company that is a leading provider of aseptic carton packaging equipment doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the bank. Attentive suppliers understand and meet the needs of Start Ups and SMEs, which often have limited budgets and thus seek packaging lines that, despite moderate investment, ensure optimum performance.
One characteristic that is often overlooked, yet can potentially be a pain point, is the size of the filler. Start Ups who install their first line within a small facility and SMEs that want to set up their own production line need to work with the space they have available. Having to expand their premises to install larger machines has an additional cost, which must be carefully evaluated. One additional parameter that companies must optimize in order to increase their profit margins is the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).
Reducing machine energy consumption in terms of utilities can drastically lower production costs, especially during operation peaks, when the plant is in constant use. Another thing to add to the list of expenses is maintenance. Each time a machine is stopped, and a technician has to take action, the TCO increases and, as a consequence, earnings drop.
Often, to properly organise filling machine interventions and to quickly resolve malfunctions, equipment suppliers turn to remote troubleshooting and assistance services.
For some countries in North Africa and Middle East, due to consumption habits and possible evolution of the business, it is important that the filling platform must be designed to allow the switch – in short time – from the production of white cheese, such as feta cheese, to UHT milk. The needs of these Start Ups and SMEs in some countries are also influenced by the temperature and humidity within their facilities. Excessive heat is an obstacle that liquid packaging line machinery must overcome.
The characteristics of a filler that define its value
Fillers designed to satisfy the aforementioned requirements have a precise set of characteristics that Start Ups and SMEs should consider to ensure a profitable investment.
- Commercial network: the importance of having a single contact person
A supplier that has a large sales network provides multiple substantial benefits to its customers:
• A single contact person for everything related to the packaging line guarantees greater clarity, a deeper and more fruitful relationship with the client and higher speed in each phase
• Full support when planning the system. A single supplier has full control of all the equipment.
• Greater efficiency when managing claims or technical issues. There is no rebound of responsibility. Possible problems are solved directly by the supplier.
- A reliable system based on experience
Relying on a supplier that, over the years, has installed hundreds of packaging lines around the world and that is recognised in the industry as one of the best in class is a good starting point to set up a perfectly functional filling line in the long run.
In developing markets, where the know-how in the aseptic carton packaging industry is still limited, is reassuring to rely on a proven platform.
- Lower prices, for the filler and downstream
Equipping packaging plants with high-quality machines with a moderate cost allow companies to optimise their budget, limiting financial exposure and risk. This factor is particularly felt by Start Ups and Small and Medium Enterprises for which the line investment is a key aspect.
Of course, a lower price tag is a plus only if it doesn’t mean compromising on technology and the features of the filling machine or having a negative impact on downstream.
- Compact filling machines for an efficient use of space
Machines with reduced dimensions can be easily installed in smaller factories, where space is often limited.
Fillers with smaller footprint also can be placed alongside other machinery, meaning no structural changes have to be made to the facility. Moreover, by choosing fillers of reduced dimensions, the manufacturer who wants to install an additional line for a new carton shape for a premium product or a niche one, doesn’t need to radically change the plant’s layout.
- Easy-to-use machines
Fillers which are easier to use speed up the operators’ recruitment and training time; as a consequence, these machines reduce costs.
A useful tool to simplify the management of the machine is the intuitive HMIs since it helps operators to reduce product waste and boost production line efficiency to optimise earnings. This is, for example, enabled by the start & stop mode, which limits waste, and by production data that can be monitored in real-time by operators.
- Low utility bills
Cost savings, thanks to low utilities, help make a filler even more advantageous. This factor is particularly important for those manufacturers that run more than one production shift per day, especially during operational peaks. When a company reduces the TCO, it becomes increasingly competitive.
- Maintenance managed by the machine supplier
Obviously, TCO is lowered even more when an aseptic filling machine doesn’t require frequent and immediate intervention to function properly. But even more importantly, those breakdowns and malfunctioning can be avoided at the root if standard and preventive maintenance is carried out regularly by the equipment supplier.
If Start Ups and SMEs sign contracts with equipment suppliers that include technical support, they also reap the rewards of not having to organise routine maintenance and repairs.
- Remote assistance for a faster issue resolution
Timely, efficient assistance carried out remotely by the filling equipment supplier through a data collection system and advanced tools – such as augmented and virtual reality –, makes it possible for companies to receive constant support without the need to wait for technicians to visit their premises. When errors occur, having a digital system that can analyse the machine's operational data and find a quick solution to the problem is essential.
- Preservation of the final product, despite warm climates
Plants operating in a place where temperatures tend to rise drastically must also choose a technology that can prevent two major problems generated by excessive heat: equipment malfunction and damage to the product being packaged.
In places with hotter climates, fillers and downstream equipment designed to operate at high temperatures are a must, enabling the product to meet safety standards.
IPI's solution for Start Ups and SMEs: the NSA EVO aseptic carton filler
Extensive experience in the aseptic carton packaging industry makes it possible for IPI to satisfy the needs of a wide range of manufacturers, providing aseptic filling machines and downstream equipment for state-of-the-art solutions: hundreds of brands in over 40 countries have chosen IPI milk and beverage packaging solutions.
IPI’s solution for its specific target – small companies – is called NSA EVO. The tagline of the NSA EVO filling machine immediately conveys its main strengths: a reliable, ultra-compact, easy-to-use, low-investment solution. This isn’t just an advertising slogan. Rather, it encapsulates the distinctive features of a machine crafted by IPI from 40 years of ongoing research and development and hundreds of installations around the globe.