Palletizing trends 2019: Flexibility is the magic word
A few decades ago, potatoes were the most important industry for Verbruggen Palletizing Solutions (in both the Netherlands and USA), but it has become a smaller but still important market that is constantly changing. So, what are the trends? An interview with Freerk Jan de Haan, account manager at Verbruggen.
Flexibility as a requirement in the palletizer industry
During the interview, the word “flexibility” is used regularly. It is a word that fits extremely well with seed export. And if there is a good example of an export country, then it is our own. “We go where the demand is,” De Haan says demonstrating our flexibility.
Processing Seed Potatoes is becoming increasingly complex
Verbruggen’s account manager sees the market changing. In recent years, Flexibility for Verbruggen has become increasingly essential in terms of changing product sizes, pallet sizes, and the other important needs of our customers. And therefore also the functionality of palletizers. De Haan, who is also a small-scale seed potato grower, indicates that the trend provides a different approach requiring flexibility. “It makes things difficult for us as Verbruggen: in what size do the importers want the seed? In a package of 10, 25 or 50 kilos? This also applies to pallet sizes. A palletizer for seed potatoes must be able to handle three sizes: the Euro pallet, the EP10 and the EP16 increasing machine complexity. ”
Seed potatoes are exported from the Netherlands in various ways. Depending on the destination, this is done by truck, container transport and by shipping. These different means of transport require a different approach in the field of pallets. “And sometimes the ship is unloaded, after which it continues on a train. Then there are again countries that want Euro pallets, because that is a deposit. So we have to be flexible in that. The advantage for us is that Belgium, France, Scotland work with the same pallet sizes, “De Haan knows. “In Germany, for example, you never come across the EP16, they export much less. If you have a domestic market, you work with bulk, big bags or they come with a truck. On the other hand, Verbruggen palletizers are designed for export allowing for maximum flexibility which we strive for. It makes it a fun challenge. Ultimately, we want to help customers in all countries find the best solution for their situation. ”
Trend in the Netherlands: combining workload
Another trend is ongoing in the Netherlands. Where farmers started to automate in the field of packaging, this changed over the years. “We mainly see that there are more larger machines in the field. A slightly larger farmer buys a large packaging machine, which is actually too large for himself. That farmer takes the packaging work for the “smaller farmers” around him. So, you have to hope that there is enough work for that machine, which is used for 4 or 5 months a year. Seed potatoes farmers ensure that the bulk is ready, and if it needs to be packed, they go to the neighbor. In this way they all make the neighbor’s machine profitable. You see that it is starting to combine in this area.”
What does this combined workload mean for Verbruggen? “We used to sell more small machines, now we see an increasing demand for larger machines. Instead of 10 small ones, we now sell four large machines. Ten or fifteen years ago everyone went to the neighbor who had a small machine. Now you see the shift towards larger higher capacity palletizers. “This trend has been going on for a few years, and we expect this change in scale to only increase in the future.”
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Please visit www.verbruggen.nl/en
Note: Article written by Alexander Drost / NDC