Follow the packaging, know every detail
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Follow the packaging, know every detail

  • 07 October 2019
  • Door: Esther van der Lelie

At Kolkman Verpakkingen Hedel you always know where a package is located, what it is made of and where it is delivered. This is an automated process that enables the company to meet the quality and sustainability requirements. Tailor-made solutions that are constantly evolving.

Kolkman specialises in making mushroom, vegetable and meat packaging. The company was founded in the eighties by Jan's father Kolkman, now three brothers are in charge. "Our roots are in North Holland", says Jan Kolkman. "We lived opposite of our company that made thermoform products at the time. As sons, you quickly join the company. In 2007 we took over the business." 


Mr. Kolkman saw the market in mushrooms emerge and, together with a large grower and Albert Heijn, started the production of the well-known blue mushroom trays. He produced these with machines that he had made himself. With success. Growth brought the company to Hedel in 1991. The growth continues by broadening the range with vegetable and meat packaging, flexibility by adapting the machines to customer demand, and innovation. A path that is made clear by FOBIS, the automation programme for food companies of RBK in Deventer.

Jan Kolkman (left) en Jan Wilbrink (right)

'It had to be done differently'

Jan Kolkman focuses on purchasing, sales and automation. He is familiar with the rules regarding the purchase of raw materials, processing, tracing, recycling and delivery, and is constantly working on innovation. According to Jan, he had the information in order without FOBIS, until two years ago when an auditor picked up a roll of plastic from the warehouse and asked for which parties it had been used. "We had the answer, but only after a time-consuming, manual search job. This had to be done differently. At that moment we decided to start automating. Through AFAS we came into contact with Jan Wilbrink, customer manager RBK. The click was immediately there and we went to work together to achieve the best possible results for Kolkman in the FOBIS system."

"Kolkman has to meet the requirements of its quality certificate and the packaging covenant", explains Jan Wilbrink. "That means being able to demonstrate at any time what happens to his products. In addition, it is also important to respond to the customer's wishes. For example, the supermarket wants to know what raw materials and packaging film have been used in a particular box, on which pallet the box is placed and when it is delivered. All this is easily recorded with FOBIS."


After three months of implementation and testing, Kolkman started with the system. Jan Kolkman had good faith in it and included the employees in the new way of work. A challenge, because they are doers and can encounter hick-ups in practice. "For example, we guide the order pickers through the warehouse via Wi-Fi signals. Using tablets on the forklift truck, FOBIS informs the order pickers which products need to be picked and from where for loading or production".

With FOBIS, RBK achieves greater efficiency and cost savings for every company, such as the SSCC labels at Kolkman. "We used to stick labels on the boxes with a manual check on delivery and receipt," explains Jan Kolkman. "Now we scan the labels and automatically match the order and delivery. This development was the result of a lot of 'sparring' together. A comprehensive check has now been built in."


Jan Kolkman gradually learns to know and apply the system well. Jan Wilbrink nods in confirmation: "You start to see the advantages, such as the fact that you can keep stocks low through good insight into shelf life and availability." Kolkman can now also automatically demonstrate that he meets the requirement that 70% of the products must be recyclable. "For us, this is not an issue but a given. All plastic is easily recyclable." The automation process goes further, the next steps are formulated: production planning, track & trace visualization, and quality rounds digitization. 


Jan Kolkman returns to the focus on recycling. "It's not really about the plastic itself, but about the consumer. We make beautiful plastic packaging with a purpose. Most people don't know this goal. We can offer mushrooms without packaging, but then the shelf life decreases and we will have to throw away food. So there is a challenge for the industry to provide consumers with even better information. Just as we do with our employees when there are changes in our company." Jan Wilbrink links up with the news that RBK wants to set up a users' association for food companies. To share information, discuss experiences together and work on improvements. "Every detail counts!"

Photos: © Studio 38c

Source: © Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2019