The whole package
An expert and an innovator in its field, Serac Group is providing tomorrow’s packaging equipment solutions today
In a world full of increasingly complex challenges, Serac Group is a company with solutions. Founded in 1969 by Mr. JJ Graffin, Serac specializes in the design and manufacture of packaging equipment and machinery, and the company’s efficient, cost-effective, and reliable solutions have become sought-after the world over.
Operating across Europe, Asia, North and South America, Serac’s strategy is to bring the company as close to its customers as possible. Actively engaged in a variety of sectors, including food and beverage, agro-chemicals, paints, personal care and auto products, the company prides itself on building strong client relationships and delivering expertly informed bespoke solutions.
“I think what really sets Serac apart is that we are a boutique-style partner that can use our product portfolio to provide customers with tailored solutions. People really appreciate that,” CEO Dino Chece says. “Sometimes we need to change the layout of a machine to make it fit into a plant or adapt the components to support the best integration, but even if we have to provide customers with a product from a competitor, we make it work.
“As you can imagine, we are very close to our customers and we speak their language, manufacturing locally in each area. However, this is no good if you can’t back it up with quality. Serac has been in the net weight filling technology business since it was founded, so our knowledge of filling multiple materials with a very high level of accuracy is second to none.”
Headquartered in France, Serac boasts four production facilities in the country, including two dedicated to filling/capping equipment, a supply plant making proprietary equipment for machinery, and a site focusing on systems for cups. Outside Europe, Serac also manufactures in Malaysia, North America, and Brazil.
“When it comes to production, we use common technology, such as Lean Six Sigma and ISO across the network to help increase efficiency,” Dino reveals. “We do not buy sheet metal and make products – instead, we just assemble in our plants because we don’t see the cutting of metal as adding value for our customers; we are more focused on the solution and the technology of the machine. Barring some exceptions, we localize the supply chain for the component piece in question and then it is shipped to the manufacturing plants for final assembly.”
Half a century of success at Serac has been founded on the core pillars of creativity, reliability, commitment, and the ability to be multi-local. The latter of these principles refers to the firm’s international footprint and its ability to offer services across borders. Catering to local cultures and customs, Serac’s established teams boost customer relations and speed of service, as well as improving the company’s understanding of the various markets, legislative frameworks and industry trends that make it a pro-active and internationally relevant player.
“Localized manufacturing plants allow for local production, engineering, and sales teams. This means that the company is ideally positioned to serve the widely varying needs of different regions,” Dino explains. “A North American customer doesn’t necessarily have the same sort of behavior or expectations as a customer in China. For example, in Asia and Europe, small packaged goods perform very well because people want to carry goods around with them. Conversely, America lags a bit behind in that regard and prefers larger packaged goods, such as one-liter bottles instead of five 200ml alternatives.”
The vastly differing requirements of its global customer base means that Serac relies on the capabilities of a large Research & Development team to keep abreast of the latest trends and find corresponding solutions. Though the company acknowledges that it cannot develop specialized solutions for every single one of its customers, Serac’s experience and history means that the firm will always be able to find common denominators with existing products and then adapt solutions accordingly.
Serac’s illustrious project history includes contracts with major corporations like Unilever, Danone, PepsiCo, Purina, and Colgate-Palmolive. Working collaboratively with its clients, the company continues to manufacture and deliver solutions for all manner of complex customer questions. For example, with many businesses’ environmental credentials coming under increased scrutiny in 2021, Serac has turned its attention to developing a better way to clean machinery that also reduces chemical usage and water consumption.
“At present, we are developing more technology based on electron beams,” Dino reports. “We call it our blue-stream approach and it involves decontaminating containers with electron beams, which means they do not need water and chemicals to decontaminate them. We are actually very excited about this. It’s a real market need, named BluStream® of course.
“The push towards greener ways of operating began a few years ago, thus we created a number of sustainable solutions over the last decade,” he continues. “About six or seven years ago, the environmental impact of PET materials came under the spotlight and we had customers saying, ‘We love your filling equipment, but we would like to make the bottle in the factory, so we require a solution where we blow and fill the bottle in one block.’ At the time, we did not have a blower, so we talked to the customer and developed a low speed blowing line that could adapt to the market need. Not only did customers appreciate the tailored service, but the solution has now become a sustainable industry standard.”
Sustainability is nothing new to Serac as it has, for decades, been part of the company’s commitment to its corporate social responsibility (CSR). An incorporated part of the firm’s business strategy, Serac’s CSR initiatives are designed to better anticipate the evolutions in society and ensure long-lasting activity by adapting to client needs and committing to a global sustainable developmental approach.
As part of its responsibility to the environment and its stakeholders, Serac regularly consults its business partners and employees to ensure that their expectations are considered and that the firm is working on the right sustainable development challenges for the industry.
“The permanent dialogue and exchanges we have with our people ensure we set the right objectives and give ourselves the proper means to attain them,” Dino declares. “The strong involvement of our employees is crucial if we want to attain these objectives. It is thanks to them, the first ambassadors of the company, and their motivation to work on these sustainable development challenges, that we can offer cleaner products and services to our partners.”
For over 50 years, Serac has been able to deliver products better adapted to its clients’ changing needs due to the company’s ever-improving performance, along with its search for innovation and financial independence. To achieve its ambition of offering clients a complete and personalized service all around the world, while avoiding risk at the same time, Serac updates its ethical code periodically, with its most recent revision arriving in 2015. Additionally, each year, Serac takes part in CSR evaluations organized by third parties. The firm’s participation in these assessments reaffirms its dedication to change and helps to inform its action plans.
Understandably, much of the company’s thinking over the last year has been dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic. With widespread cancellation of trade fairs and travel restrictions making it impossible to meet customers in person, Serac recently decided to take its latest product range online. From 25th February, the company presented a 360° immersive experience on the web, inviting end users to discover its low environmental impact packaging solutions in a 100 per cent virtual 3D showroom.
Serac’s ongoing innovation quest means that in 2021, the company hopes to release more new and exciting technologies for the packaging market aimed towards contemporary industry needs for environmentally friendly and sustainability conscious solutions. With these new products on the horizon, and the challenges of 2020 firmly behind Serac, Dino is confident that the firm will remain on a clear upward trajectory over the next 12 months.
“Our strategy going forward will see us add more new products specifically into the machinery range, as well as updating our decontamination offering,” Dino notes. “On top of that, in line with market demand, we will be looking at the application of Industry 4.0, for which we are developing exciting HMI’s for our machines that target the new generation customer and user. The future will see more and more people getting accustomed to electronic, intuitive tools; at Serac we need to adapt to that behavior as well.”
Elsewhere, Serac will be enhancing its operational strategies and streamlining its processes in line with ISO, to maximize the company’s profitability. Dino hopes that the result will be an organization positioned even closer to its customers and even better prepared for significant expansion expected to take place in the future.
“Right now, we are investing in human resources and targeting certain markets that perhaps, in the past, did not receive the attention they deserved – for example, Central America, Africa, the Middle East, and of course, China,” Dino asserts. “It will make for a Serac that is even more localized, with a host of new and exciting products in the pipeline.
“Over the course of Serac’s history, we have acquired a reputation on the filling side, but our goal for the next three to five years will be to transform the business into more of a partner solution provider for the customer,” he adds. “The client, and their needs, will always be at the center of what we do, and so will sustainable, environmentally-positive technologies. As we enhance that image over time, we will definitely start to see some strong partnerships occurring in areas downstream of the equipment.”