A supplier of packaging machinery for food and beverage, Swedish company Fredriksons Verkstads works with some of the industry’s most important names. It develops production line equipment at its main facility in Vadstena then delivers these solutions to customers throughout the world. By maintaining an ongoing process of improving its own products the company has placed itself on the leading edge and, with a range of new efficiency upgrades soon to be unveiled, this foothold looks set to continue.
The roots of Fredriksons Verkstads stretch back to 1917 when the company began as a small workshop working for other companies, aiding them in their manufacturing process. One of the most common tasks it would undertake was the manufacture of factory line equipment and, as the workshop grew in capacity and capability over decades, it began creating its own range of machines. In the 1950s the company started what would turn out to be a long-term relationship with the Swedish food and beverage industry and, by the 1980s, it was supplying such line equipment throughout the world.
International success saw the company open a second factory five years ago. Sales manager Alejandro Tome talks with Food Chain about this: “Alongside our main factory in Vadstena, we opened a second facility in China in 2006 because many of our clients branched out there and we like to be positioned close to our markets. Our Chinese subsidiary manufactures all of Fredriksons Verkstads’ typical products and supplies them to the local market and enables us to have a closer and more immediate relationship with our clients in the region. At the end of last year we moved premises to improve production capacity. It was not planned to happen until 2013 but we have grown there much faster than expected, so we moved to a 7818 square metre factory that employs 50 people alongside the 250 working here in Sweden.”
The rapid growth of its Chinese division, called Fredriksons Industry (Suzhou) Co, illustrates the success of Fredriksons Verkstads’ conveyor equipment such as the PC23 and UC24 as well as its packaging machines that include package dividers and turners, straw detectors and bent foil treaters.
Such is the reputation of Fredriksons Verkstads that it collaborates with the biggest players in the packaging industry, with its product portfolio having been engineered to meet the stringent demands required by its clientele. “We began collaborating with one major client some years and now provide their production conveyors across the globe,” adds Alejandro.
He goes on to elaborate on why clients like this have come to rely on Fredriksons Verkstads: “From the very beginning we talk to our customers to find out what they want and what they consider important, and with our 20 in-house development engineers we are able develop solutions for their needs. Through this process of close collaboration we help them improve their own central manufacturing efficiency. Also, because our own company has a very integrated structure, the end user benefits from the greater quality achieved through having a single department handling all aspects of research and development (R&D).”
Having a core focus on R&D is important for an industry that changes quickly, both in demands and capacity. One outcome of countries such as China and Russia quickly emerging as dominant global economies is that their population have an increasing demand for packaged food and drink whilst at the same time expecting ever better value for money. Because end user cost and raw materials have limited scope for changing, many companies therefore look to cut costs in their own facilities. This is accompanied by an increasing diversity in foods, often in speciality choices that require smaller runs of packaging. The required machinery therefore needs to be increasingly flexible whilst still capable of handling high output rates and superior quality. “We try to develop up to six products a year to cope with the changes in industry, to provide products with better hygiene and total cost of ownership,” Alejandro explains.
Fredriksons Verkstads continues to meet these types of demands. At this year’s Interpack convention in Dusseldorf, Germany, the company will be exhibiting a number of new technologies developed over the last year. “We will present a new conveyor for secondary packaging that has higher speeds of up to 80 metres per minute,” illustrates Alejandro. “It contains all the typical features of our machines but also there are new developments in the drive units to improve accessibility and make it simpler for carrying out maintenance.”
He goes on to talk about other new machines the company will be presenting at Interpack 2011: “There will be a conveyor unit with a reduced footprint, able to produce sheets of up to six metres but taking up 30 per cent less space. We have also added improved features on our range of products, for example to be able to resist acidic environments down to pH2 so that zinc can be applied on the production lines, close to the filling machines. Also on display will be a high-speed conveyor chain that with reduced noise levels compared to traditional counterparts whilst also having much smoother operation. The chain surface has been improved to take more care of a packet, increasing contact surface to improve stability and prevent them from falling off the line for example.”
Interpack 2011 also gives the company a chance to explore new markets. Having had great success in its homeland and China, the next logical step for Fredriksons Verkstads is to branch out into new geographic regions. Having already tested the waters in Germany and gained good responses, the company is looking to Germany and Eastern Europe as its next potential growth market and, because it likes to be positioned close to its customers, is already looking for partners in the area.
With a long history of success behind it, the years ahead for Fredriksons Verkstads look to continue its steadily successful trend. Agreeing, Alejandro concludes: “Last year was quite a surprise in China. We were able to upgrade our premises in just four years because the market increased so quickly and you have to say that, with China, there is no other way. Similarly, due to good business in Germany, we will continue to push the east European markets over the next five years. With the Xano group supporting us there is no other way but forwards.”
Employees 250 (Sweden)
Products Packaging machinery