Issue Iss2 2011
The right lines
Modelled on specially developed production machinery, Van Uitert has been meeting the challenges of production efficiency for nearly 50 years
Whilst production is often focused on volumes and end products, less attention is perhaps paid to the specialist machinery that facilitates this. Since 1967, Dutch-based Van Uitert B.V. has been producing tailor-made machines for all aspects of production such as internal conveyance. Initially the business was founded in 1963 to create structural metal products and greenhouses for export to the US. However, following the dramatic decrease of the exchange rate of the dollar Van Uitert decided to change its core business to focus on conveyor systems and special machines.
The scope of these specialist solutions covers many applications including increasing production line efficiency, new turnkey production lines, expansion or relocation of an existing line, and the development of special machines – either separately or as part of a complete line. These machines are utilised in a diverse range of industries, but Van Uitert is particularly strong in the beverage, food, and packaging industries. The company is also increasingly supplying the chemical, pharmaceutical and other related industries. Van Uitert has several large national and international brands in its portfolio such as Nestlé, Unilever and Heineken. The company is committed to building lasting relationships with its customers, and as a result has worked with some clients for 20 to 30 years.
As a leading turnkey supplier, Van Uitert offers a total concept from consultancy and design to installation and integration with other equipment: “Because every assignment is unique we offer tailored solutions, completely adapted to the customer’s needs. We are known for our personal project approach. This means that we create a team of specialists for each project that work closely with the customer to offer the most effective solution. For the client this means that the entire project is co-ordinated by one experienced and reliable partner,” explains Yvonne Van Hemert, marketing director of Van Uitert.
Van Uitert’s history of research and development (R&D) goes right back to 1967 when the company produced its first machine, a pressing pod, which immediately became a national and international success with two sold to the Netherlands and a further seven to the US. “R&D has a high priority at Van Uitert,” confirms Yvonne. “In Uitertorder to continually optimise our products and offer the best solutions, we have our own R&D department. This facility constantly strives for technical progress by developing innovative new products and services, as well as improving our existing offering. We also operate four test circuits to test these developments, which has resulted in several patents. Recently we developed several special machines as part of a complete line. Designed for a brewery, these machines place a draughtkeg handle, either grip or topchime, on a draughtkeg, and we worked closely with the clients marketing and R&D departments in developing these.”
Other examples of typical projects include the development of a new wraparound packaging line for a dairy products supplier undergoing expansion with a new production hall. Over the past few years demand for wraparound techniques has increased as distribution in crates is reduced, and as such this particular client has expanded its production in boxes. “At Van Uitert, each project begins by assimilating the specific wishes and requirements of the customer. Among other things, in this particular instance this meant that the new expansion has to connect into the existing change-over installation we had integrated several years previously,” elaborates Yvonne.
She continues: “In order to realise this, we had to disconnect the supply to the crate packers so that a new connection with the wraparound packers could be created. Given that the new hall is relatively small, we had to look at the most efficient use of space as well as accessibility for the operators. As well as the supply and removal of the pallets, we took care of empty pallet preparation, where various pallet types are sent to be checked for damage robotically. This system uses a wireless transfer car that is controlled and positioned via WiFi.”
Modification of existing lines and general upgrades are a growing business area for Van Uitert, as the business sees a shift in the type of client requests. In particular, customers are more than ever looking at how they can produce at the lowest possible cost. The company has also seen a rise in the number of requests for removals as the industry undergoes various takeovers. Van Uitert’s presence in these different markets is key to its strategy for business stability.
Certainly it is clear that bottling and packaging industries are continuously facing changes from the introduction of new products and packaging materials to environmental challenges. As such, Van Uitert’s long experience and technical knowledge appears ever more important in creating production solutions that help contribute to customer success. “We are committed to continuing to improve the business through updating our own production facilities and R&D capabilities to enable us to offer the best solutions to clients. We are also working on a new corporate visual identity, beginning with a new website, which we hope will be operational in the next month. This will provide us with a strong foundation for future growth in sales, both in Europe and the rest of the world. It is vital that we look to grow sustainably in order for us to maintain the same high quality throughout,” concludes Yvonne.