Bringing Stretch Hood Technology to the Next Level
Denmark based Lachenmeier is a successful manufacturer of cutting-edge packaging machinery and film technology for end-of-line pallet wrapping. Since its foundation back in 1969, the company has concentrated on the manufacturing of film wrapping machinery for securing of pallet loads. Elisabeth Skoda spoke to Alice Holm Kristensen, the company’s marketing manager, to find out more about how Lachenmeier wants to contribute to making stretch hood technology the go-to solution for a wide range of industries.
Lachenmeier was founded in 1969 by Kurt Lachenmeier, who had a new idea for film packaging, for which he experimented playing with lego cubes, wrapping them in film and putting them into his wife’s oven to see what would happen to the film. This eventually led to the construction of the first shrink oven at Lachenmeier.
In 1971 the company started building shrink tunnels, which at the time consumed a lot of energy. The energy crisis in the late 1970s brought with it the need for a more energy friendly solution. As a result, the shrink wrap machine Combi Flex, where hood application and shrinking take place in one space-saving unit, was introduced to the world market by Lachenmeier in 1982. The first fully automated pallet stretch hood machine was launched in 1988.
In 2001, Kurt Lachenmeier handed the company over to his son Per Lachenmeier, who in 2007 sold it to the American company ITW. In 2014, ITW divested part of its packaging portfolio, and Lachenmeier is now part of US-based Signode Industrial Group, a group of companies with expertise in protective packaging, stretch solutions and strapping systems.
Stretch Hood innovations
The focus for Lachenmeier now lies predominantly on stretch hood technology, as Ms. Holm Kristensen explains, with 99 per cent of machines sold globally. She observes a clear tendency towards stretch hood technology replacing stretch and shrink wrappers, and Lachenmeier aims to be at the forefront of this development.
“We have a long tradition of being innovative, and it is our main goal to remain a market leader in end of line packaging – both in terms of numbers and in innovation. We just recently launched our Multi Flex XL machine for very large loads. It is designed to wrap loads from 500 x 500 mm up to a 3200 length x 1700 width mm, with a maximum height of 3000 mm. The machine is specially equipped to wrap large loads like insulation batches, gypsum boards and corrugated boxes. It can wrap up to 200 loads an hour depending on product height and size,” Ms. Holm Kristensen points out.
Lachenmeier’s Power Flex T1 and Multi FleX1 complete the stretch hood portfolio. The Multi FleX1 is capable of wrapping at a very high speed of up to 250+ loads per hour and offers the possibility to run various load sizes with just one film size. The machine can be fitted with several film rolls to provide the ability to wrap multiple loads sizes with greater variations in size on the fly. The Multi FleX1 like the Power Flex T1 and Multi Flex XL are fitted with a patented technology of lowering the top of the machine down to floor level for easy service and maintenance.
“This improves safety for employees and also makes the footprint of the machine smaller, meaning it can fit well into production sites with low ceilings,” Ms. Holm Kristensen adds.
“Our latest machine was launched in December, and there are more innovations in the pipeline for the future. Around 10 per cent of our employees are involved in the development of films and machines, which puts us in an ideal position to maintain our leading position.”
Film and machines under one roof
Lachenmeier also got involved in the film business in 2009, offering solutions for machine and film fitting perfectly together, putting the company in an ideal position to provide optimum solutions.
“Over the years, problems caused by films sometimes were a challenge, and we decided that the best way to deal with this would be to do it ourselves. Lachenmeier’s intensive knowledge of wrapping films combined with high quality packaging machines provides customers with the best possible wrapping solution. Machine and film kept together as one – leaving no room for mistakes,” as Ms. Holm Kristensen explains.
Showcasing expertise at Anuga
One of Lachenmeier’s key goals for the future is to try and convert traditional stretch wrap industry segments into stretch hood segments, and one of the key segments here is food, which at the moment still uses predominantly stretch wrapping, opening up new markets. Lachenmeier will be exhibiting its product range at Anuga FoodTec in Cologne from March 24th to March 27th, 2015.
At Anuga, the company will focus on showcasing solutions as an alternative to stretch wrapping. “With stretch wrapping, the investment price is quite low, and before, we were not able to compete on price, but thanks to combining machine and film knowledge, we can offer competitive solutions. One way of doing this is by reducing the overall film costs without compromising on the required load stability and another way is to remove excess primary and secondary packaging material and save money on the total packaging costs.
One of the key advantages of stretch hood in comparison to stretch wrap is that it provides improved stability, you can reduce the packaging costs compared to other wrapping technologies, it provides a waterproof load, it offers higher capacities, and it also offers a range of different wrapping patterns, like adding a sleeve in the middle of the load, or a reinforcement at the bottom. We will showcase the variety of wrapping patterns, and make customers see that stretch wrap is not the only possible solution. The food industry often is not fully aware about the possibilities stretch hood can offer, and we are keen to show this at Anuga,” Ms. Holm Kristensen says.
Lachenmeier is a global company, selling machines all over the world, either directly or through subdivisions, agents or dealers. One key market is Germany.
“We also expanded into eastern Europe, to Russia, Asia, Australia, and North/South America. We are present in almost all industry segments all over the world, including appliances, food, cement, powder, fertilizer, insulation material, paper, corrugated products etc. This gives us a broad base. If one sector is down for a while, we can switch to another sector. Our agents allow us to give local service to our customers in countries as diverse as China or Mexico.
As a market leader, one of Lachenmeier’s biggest USPs is its technological leadership, and its unique combination of film and machines working together to create the best packaging solution.
“We don’t just sell machines, but focus on the actual solution, which is based on our consultative approach evaluating customers’ existing packaging lines, generating ideas and helping customers in formulating their needs and requirements. This includes surveys and long range studies, load stability testing and in-depth analysis of the packaging process. We offer free packaging audits to customers, where we visit them for free, make an assessment of existing packaging process and costs, and give advice and recommendations on how they could improve and save money with our solutions. We take care of the entire process, offering a complete package,” Ms. Holm Kristensen concludes.