Five-star remodelling at Huhtamaki
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Five-star remodelling at Huhtamaki

  • 15 November 2021
  • By: Janneke Vermeulen

At Huhtamaki they know that the future of packaging lies in paper. That's why they're investing heavily in a new factory and why parties who can supply high-quality applications are involved in the renovation. The fact that those parties work together smoothly is extra favourable.  

"A reference for the food industry", is how Edwin Slingerland, director of SR Vloeren (part of the Ruys Group), describes the remodelling at Huhtamaki in Leeuwarden. At the Frisian location of the international packaging company, machines, processes and products are developed for paper packaging. Albert Koekoek, Huhtamaki's construction supervisor, agrees with Slingerland's assessment. He explains the reason for the remodelling: "Huhtamaki is increasingly often approached by large, international names in the food industry with a request to develop a new, paper-based packaging product. These companies have the ambition to become plastic-free as soon as possible. In light of this growing interest, this packaging company is fully committed to paper."  

Pilot plant 

For example, a food giant recently approached us to develop paper lids for cups. The company then decided to set up a pilot plant in Leeuwarden. The Frisian location is currently being expanded: a third of an existing factory hall is being rented, about three thousand square metres. The new space had been used as a warehouse for decades and needed to be completely rebuilt. No less than forty million euros have been set aside for this. A five-star package was envisaged for this, explains Koekoek: "Huhtamaki's major customers always have additional requirements in terms of hygiene, food safety, sustainability, working conditions and fire safety, in addition to the legal standards that apply to the food industry. Huhtamaki therefore wanted the highest quality applications available on the market for the new hall."

From left to right Edwin Slingerland, Albert Koekoek, Niels Burger

More durable than steel

Koekoek was advised internally to contact Niels Burger of Sentho. Sentho had supplied hygienic wall panels for a renovation of the production facility in Franeker. Sentho supplies and assembles walls, ceilings and access protection for large and small parties in the food industry. The company uses steel sandwich panels glued with glass fibre reinforced polyester material. Burger: "Usually, only steel wall panels are used. They may be cheaper to buy, but they are much more sensitive to corrosion and damage, for example from forklift truck collisions, which can lead to unhygienic situations. Glass-fibre reinforced polyester is resistant to water and aggressive cleaning agents and is scratch and impact resistant - so it is more durable than steel. For the finish of the walls - the transition between the panels - we use two-component epoxy. It hardens quickly and is impenetrable; much more hygienic than silicone."

Minimum downtime

The existing floors in the extension did not meet Huhtamaki's requirements and called for a thorough renovation. Sentho and the Ruys Group often work together in the food processing industry. This is why SR Vloeren, an expert in renovation work, was introduced to Koekoek by Burger. Slingerland explains: "Our strength is limiting downtime with our unique products. Time is an important factor for the customer; the longer the downtime lasts, the more money is lost." The entire floor construction in the extension is being tackled by the specialist flooring company. For example, the substrate is properly pre-treated, reinforcement and stainless steel drainage are installed, and a specially modified 'steel fibre concrete' with matching PU cement floor finish is poured. Slingerland continues: "A major advantage of this floor application is the top layer, which can be used again within one day. In addition, the product contains no solvents and no odour, so production can continue as usual."

Oily machine

Koekoek was quickly convinced of the qualities of both companies and the advantages that the work experience would bring: "In other projects, I often have to deal with many different parties who comment on each other's work or indicate that they cannot continue with the work that has been delivered. That costs time and money and causes a lot of irritation. Here, things are just taken care of; a well-oiled machine." That well-oiled cooperation is tangibly expressed in the skirting boards. The prefabricated stainless steel/concrete skirting boards, reinforced with glass fibre for extra strength, are installed by Sentho. SR Vloeren then creates a hygienic skirting board connection in the recess developed for this purpose. "Thanks to a patented system developed by us, the concrete fully adheres to the stainless steel. So there is no chance of gaps or hollow spaces in case of collisions," says Burger.

Meanwhile, the end of the renovation is in sight: before the end of the year, the first paper lids have to roll off the conveyor belt. Koekoek: "Once the machines, process and product have been optimised, production will be transferred to another plant. Here, a new, sustainable packaging will be developed. This new factory will last for years to come!

Photos: ©Anne van der Woude

Source: Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2021