Germany

Nathalie Bonk- Kleinschmidt, WEBOMATIC:

Packaging

„The zeitgeist of ‘higher, faster, better’ will approach the food business rather sooner than later”

Posted on May 03 ,11:07

Nathalie Bonk- Kleinschmidt, WEBOMATIC:

  After 60 years of  existance, Webomatic Maschinenfabrik GmbH, a fmily owned business is taking a new approach on the market with flexible solutions desingned to respond to a ‘higher, faster, better’ need manifested by the customers. The company has gone through a rebranding operation but its focus on maintaining flexibility in vacuum packaging offered to small, medium and industrial sized entities is still there. Nathalie Bonk- Kleinschmidt, Marketing Manager,  show the path that Webomatic  is following in this new packaging era and underlines the novelties that are to be highlighted at IFFA this year, in an interview for EuroMeatNews. 

After 60 years of existence, WEBOMATIC decided to change its image by adopting a new "Look and Feel" logo. What does it stand for this change in the company’s policy?

Our goal with this new look and feel is to communicate better what we are standing for. So the deep roots are nothing new since we demonstrate our values and our understanding of how we operate for over 60 years: it is about high-quality vacuum packaging machines, designed, manufactured and made in Germany, that fit exactly what each customer needs. So we see our work more in finding what our customers need and how vacuum packaging can solve their questions and problems.  It is now about communicating and showing our passion for engineering, problem-solving and process orientation. Basically, we communicate clearly what we do, and that is building trust since 1958.

In the last few years, Germany has been the perfect hub for startups in the food industry. Because WEBOMATIC has a history with small and medium enterprises how can you improve their performance in this field?

So far, we focus on being flexible in our vacuum packaging solutions that we offer, and it applies to small to medium and industrial sized entities. With our four pillars of pouch, thermoforming, tray and shrink packaging we support any business size in the food industry. Admittedly, our open adult-to-adult communication and our founder’s and leader’s spirit that is open for new projects and that really looks for solving our customer’s packaging problem, is basically what motivated us. Also, it is highly appreciated by our customer base. They know that they can believe in consultancy of what worked in the past, and what could help with their packaging needs in future. So mainly new-comers in the food-business share this high impact we can support them with.

Expanding your business operations in four European countries is a significant step for your company. What are the similarities and differences that can describe these markets?

All four countries – Germany, Romania, Poland and Austria – share European roots with similar food culture – e.g. that we smoke some of our meat products; our preference of eating traditional food, while on the same time being used to international novelties and mixed cultures. Sure – there are differences like, whether consumers prefer buying sliced or whole pieces of meat in supermarkets, or what type of packaging convoys the freshest impression. Hence, we make use of our expertise and engineering to find solutions for our customers even with “unusual” ideas and support them with tailored vacuum packaging, no matter in which country they produce or sell to.

Another similarity is that those markets share many supermarket chains, that operate from their headquarters in, e.g. France, Germany or England. Being on the market since 1958, we have an idea of what those markets look for while at the same time having our subsidiaries with genuine and local knowledge of what consumer wants locally. Because in the end, the consumer decides what type of product they prefer and regional differences need to be supported.

At IFFA 2019, WEBOMATIC is to present the smallest thermoforming machine ML-C 2600, for growing craft businesses and supermarkets. What is the first impression of entrepreneurs regarding this machine and how large it will be the market for this type of equipment in the next years? What are the other novelties that can interest the visitors?

As a well-established thermoforming model, the ML-C 2600, is highly flexible and modular. While it can easily be prepared for future needs now, it provides a stable and durable basis. As an entrepreneur, one usually has to focus on the "here and now" to grow one’s base while checking opportunities for future growth.

As for highlights on IFFA, we developed this model further to fit precisely the questions of inter-connected digitalisation concepts, low downtime for changing different formats with a quick-changing device for sealing plates and have the machine that easy to handle.

With different format sets, a variety of products with various packagings can be created, and the quick-changing device makes it even quicker and simpler to change in between variants, so that entrepreneurs can easily and without substantial financial investments probe&test their markets before investing in larger capacities or packaging machines.

We believe that the zeitgeist of "higher, faster, better" will approach the food business rather sooner than later. Hence the task is to meet this challenge with flexible solutions – and that is precisely the market for the ML-C 2600 in the thermoforming range or the TL 250 in case of tray sealers.

The new subsidiary in Austria allows the clients to produce sample packaging on various machines. How important is this in your strategy for building trust in the new brand?

Since we are working for 17 years with our own subsidiary in Romania, and in wonderful hands administered by our GM Mr Aurel Fenesan, we were encouraged once again in how important it is for the customer to see the machine working and functioning. Having the opportunity of seeing ones’ product in a possible future package before deciding for a solution, resulted very helpful. So it was only natural to adapt it right from the start in Austria, and our Austrian GM, Mr Helmut Kottinger, highly appreciates and stresses precisely the intention behind it: showing our passion for engineering, problem-solving and process orientation.

Also by history, our founders were owners of small grocery stores and started working valuing hands-on-mentality that is lived by our current CEO and my father, Ralf Bonk. And that is what we do still today, and that is the reason why it aligns with our strategy. What other way is there to show the durability and reliability of our machines, if not right in front of our customers’ eyes? For sure we have the option to show our machines directly in the production of some of our customers’ premises, yet and understandable, not all of them are keen on having direct competitors enter their production hall. So the best compromise is to have customers in our application centres – both in Romania and in Austria.

In the last couple of years, WEBOMATIC has invested constantly in engineering. What are the results achieved by now?

For sure, reliable and durable machines – no matter if for craft, trade or industrial sized entities. Those apply to worldwide trends while being adaptable to both growing and downsizing needs of our customers.

We are focused on vacuum packaging equipment and here lie the fruits of our constant development– and what makes us a trustworthy partner for our customers.

IFFA 2019 has multiple hot topics for the meat producers and processors: food traceability, food safety, sustainability etc. How does WEBOMATIC respond, through its products and technical solutions, to these challenges?

All three examples: traceability, safety and sustainability go along with our idea of process-orientation: the sky is the limited for adaptations and variations as well as how needy the market is for those data. Hence, we provide our customers with our basic programmes and depending on their individual requirements, we can serve them with further tailored adaptations to have them – not only understand, e.g. their OEE (overall equipment efficiency) in lines or in stand-alone devices, have their production data synchronised in their specific EMS or ERP system, but also provide an individual solution, so that whoever needs to know that information can even have access on a mobile device.

We see our main competency to support our customer in their individual requirements and develop together with his input, what is required to achieve exactly these crucial topics: traceability, safety and sustainability.

Further aids will be mentioned in both our speech at IFFA Forum 6.5.2019 at 3.40 pm about "Digital Production Optimisation" for all entities and during the IFFA discovery tours concerning "Food Trends".

 At the end of our interview can you tell us some words about the WEBOMATIC legacy and how it is going to be continued under the new image?

We will continue to focus on what we do best and take our root-work to future challenges and support creating a sustainable and vision-oriented world with our customers. There are so many things to care for and to solve, only slightly mentioning pollution and food waste.

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