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Reliability is everything for meat supplier Luiten Food from Stompwijk. Together with ESPERA it came to a genius innovation in the field of packaging. The core: winning on speed, shelf life, quality and appearance.
Visitors who enter Luiten Food's enormous premises feel that it has only just been set up; it looks brand new. The middle part was completed in 2016 (and is apparently being polished and rubbed so well that it continues to look new) while the left building (which is attached to it) was officially put into use only three months ago. It is clear: Luiten Food is in a phase of stormy growth.
Luiten is an importer and exporter of quality meat and nowadays also fish. Beef and lamb from 'down under', Spanish pig and French poultry are supplied to the wholesale, processing industry, retail and - yes, it is true - cruise ships. And last but not least: game! Because game, that's the family business, now run by the third generation: Lennert Luiten, who grew up with it. What is the core value of the company?
Photo: Koen Brands (left) and Piet van Rijn
Luiten Food is all about reliability. Lennert Luiten says: "Our distinctiveness is everything in our control, from import to consumer packaging. In addition, we are able to participate at the highest level in certification, labelling, packaging and IT matters such as EDI and F-trace. The rule is: a deal is a deal in all areas". Another important success factor according to Luiten is the flexible and flat organization. "In contrast to large, bulky companies, we can introduce products much faster."
Piet van Rijn junior works at Luiten since 2013. After having worked at Interchicken for a number of years, he was asked to set up the retail department within Luiten, a department that produces for supermarkets at home and abroad. How do you set up the retail floor to serve these supermarkets so effectively? Well, one of the first things he did was see if he could add ESPERA equipment to the machinery. Piet: "At Interchicken there were four ESPERA machines and I could read and write with them. Much more user-friendly than other brands."
Piet got the green light for it at Luiten Food. The enthusiasm for the new line was so great that two months later another line was bought. Van Rijn: "We didn't expect that the demand for two-star poultry would grow so fast. But ESPERA's machines are plug-and-play. Once it's set up properly, it can handle anything." Koen Brands, Van Rijns technical contact at ESPERA, explains how this works. "We always give extra care to new customers. Four people can come to our location in Eindhoven for training to learn how to operate the machine. And that also applies to technicians who do the maintenance". Koen laughs: "But that's not necessary here, because Piet does all that himself. And if he can't figure it out, he just calls our help-desk."
With the rapidly growing demand from retail, Luiten Food needed a line that could label pre-packed meat easier and faster. Traditionally, cardboard sleeves were applied over a skin pack with a top seal. One or more labels with up-to-date information (origin, weight, also incorporated in the barcode) were then applied separately. This took a lot of manpower and it was not fast enough. Moreover, supermarkets are actively looking for packaging with less material.
It was Piet van Rijn himself (the 'Gyro Gearloose of Luiten'), who envisioned a line where a skin pack (without topseal!) would be weighed on the conveyor belt and would automatically receive a wrapping label with the actual information on it. Can that be done?', he asked Brands. Well, ESPERA was happy to take on that challenge, and it resulted in the very first line in the Netherlands that was able to do so. To achieve that, ESPERA integrated a NOBAC 500 (from the British company Ravenwood) behind an ESPERA ES7011 at Luiten Food. As a result, approximately 60 packages per minute are now provided with a label containing up-to-date information.
There was pressure, Piet remembers. "I didn't sleep because of it. But for the start-up phase, ESPERA released a mechanic from ESPERA-Netherlands, with support from Germany, especially for us, for a week and a half. He really had the intention, 'I'm not leaving until it runs'. That's why we had it done in no time." He speaks of a 'very worthwhile investment'. "We win on speed, durability, quality and appearance."
Images: © Roel Dijkstra
Source: © Vakblad Voedingsindustrie 2020