On Tuesday 17th of May, the PlastikMedia team of Jess Clarke and myself, Carl Futcher, were delighted to represent the UK plastics press and join ENGEL for the grand opening of its new Packaging Centre in Schwertberg, Austria.
‘High Performance Meets Sustainability’ – the motto of the day
At 5:15 am, we arrived at Birmingham airport to join Engel UK and 25 customers to attend PAC Day 2022. By 6:00 am, we were in the air, meeting with all the heavy hitters from the UK packaging sector.
Meeting the Challenges of Packaging Moulders
At 10:30 am, we arrived at ENGEL Head office after a short bus ride. This plant houses the administration of the business and produces a range of small to medium machines. We promptly sat down in their auditorium with 300 other delegates to start the day’s presentations, which focused on the challenges of packaging manufacturers in tackling rising energy prices, establishing a circular economy and changing consumer needs.
The ENGEL team explained how their impressive range of packaging machinery is helping moulders meet these challenges. The presentations covered all-electric e-cap and e-mac high-performance machines for manufacturing caps and flip-top lids, e-speed machines for thin-walled containers and buckets, and duo-speed dual-platen machines for large containers. It soon became evident that Engel had a specific technology for all the various packaging injection moulding applications.
We then listened to guest speakers from leading packaging companies. These included SIPA, Greiner, and NEXTLOOPP, covering topical subjects such as food-grade recycled PP, preforms in the circular economy and the sustainable criteria of ‘good packaging’. This industry is clearly taking its responsibilities very seriously, and we were very encouraged to see the many innovative solutions being introduced to meet these challenges.
World-leading ENGEL Packaging Centre
Our lunch break included some amazing culinary delights and a browse around the new Packaging Centre. Energy efficiency, the circular economy and digitalisation are the central topics which the new Packaging Centre addresses.
Live machine demonstrations included an e-mac 220 running a four cavity lid mould in 5 seconds and an e-speed 280 WP running a six impression flower pot in an incredible 2.1-second cycle. ENGEL customers can bring their own moulds and materials to the new Packaging Centre for a hands-on performance test, including cycle time and energy efficiency analyses.
The Schwertberg visit was concluded with a guided tour of the pant. It was amazing to think that the entire factory had been underwater following the devastating floods in August 2002.
The Land of the Giants
After we’d satisfied our curiosity and appetites, we hopped back on the buses and headed for St. Valentin, ENGEL’s large machine plant.
The St. Valentin plant is colossal. It produces machines from 350 to 5500 tonnes of clamping force. This plant housed the remaining Packaging day machine exhibits. We saw a 380 e-cap running a 96 cavity cap tool in 2 seconds and a 900 duo-speed, running a 720g, 30-litre bucket in an 18-second cycle. To complete the line-up, we saw an e-speed 420 producing a 4+4 cavity, tub and lid in 4.7 seconds, using injection compression to reduce the required clamp force from 480 to 280 tonnes.
Our tour members saw two 5500-tonne machines in assembly, something very few of us are fortunate enough to experience. A ‘special’ project was also in-build at the plant, but we’re not allowed to talk about that! However, we did see some of the assemblies; believe me, this is special.
The day ended in the display area, where we perused some amazing technology, including vertical and horizontal machines of various sizes and combinations.
As we were leaving, one of the ENGEL team asked if this was the first time I had visited their plant. I said it was as I had been a competitor of ENGEL for the majority of my career. Tongue in cheek, I said they’d missed a trick, as If I had arrived there being a competitor, I might well have packed my bags and found another job!
The event was clearly a massive success for ENGEL. UK MD Nigel Baker commented on the flight home:
“I’m absolutely delighted with the response to our first PAC Day. The numbers were well beyond my expectations. I’m certain a big contribution to this was arranging a private flight, which reduced what could have been three days out of the factory to only one.”
A Healthy Future
We eventually touched back down at Birmingham Airport around ten o’clock. Despite an incredible day, we were all feeling the pace. We both agreed that this was one of the best business trips we’d experienced, and we want to thank Nigel Baker and the entire ENGEL team for hosting and inviting us to this inaugural event.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, ENGEL has very solid foundations. If they represent the state of our industry, then we have a very healthy future.
Read more news from ENGEL here.