"There are many facets of ownership that should be considered as significant factors when looking at a packaging machine investment," says Mark Stepney. As the managing director of Schubert UK, one of packaging giant Gerhard Schubert's major European subsidiaries, Stepney knows more than most about this issue. "This is where the true benefits of a Schubert solution excels for its customers. High-quality design and manufacturing, and capitalising on decades of experience and innovation, enables low risk, high performance and greater efficiencies."
Founded in 1966 as Gerhard Schubert, the firm began life assembling the SKA for its customers, one of the world's first box erecting and gluing machines capable of working with hot-melt adhesives. The company would eventually expand to employ over 1,100 people and establish its UK subsidiary. "The Schubert Group comprises German and international subsidiaries from the fields of IT, engineering, precision parts and packaging services," explains Stepney. "Thanks to an atmosphere of mutual trust and a high degree of individual responsibility, the company has succeeded in developing its very own culture of innovation."
Each one of the group's innovations since the late 1960s has, according to Stepney, helped the wider packaging manufacturing market to evolve. "At regular intervals, the company has unveiled major leaps forward in innovation that offer customer benefits in new dimensions, thereby conquering new market segments with new technologies," he says.
However, it has been the Transmodul - the world's first transport robot - that has truly revolutionised the firm's approach to packaging machine design. "It's opened up access to markets that were otherwise thought of as inaccessible," says Stepney. "Our transport robot allows the programmable movement of products and packaging through our machines, and really comes into its own when an unstable product is being handled." This capacity is complemented by the robot's ability to run in either an indexing or continuous motion on demand.
"Every single one of Schubert's innovations brings a significant advantage to the market," Stepney affirms, not least Schubert's Flowmodul component. The firm's latest innovation, the Flowmodul, allows the seamless packaging of products including confectionery, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals in "flowpacks within our TLM machines and via a single HMI interface".
Under these conditions, the number of possible product permutations within a flow-wrap bag is nigh-on limitless. "The flexibility that the new Flowmodul delivers is greater than anything found on the market today," says Stepney.
Schubert hasn't been idle when it comes to boosting efficiency in packaging processes, either. "Our 3D vision system also gives much more control over product detection and quality monitoring," says Stepney. "Increased usable yield and process security are now available to Schubert customers. Furthermore, our TLM systems without an electrical cabinet will be of benefit to all sectors, as the technology will enable the assembly of more compact machines that are easier to maintain thanks to their simplified control system. These key aspects will ensure that long-term operating costs will be lower."
Stepney is confident that Schubert will continue upholding this tradition of cutting-edge product innovation in many years to come. "With unwavering resolve and a firm eye on the road ahead, we focus on the current and future requirements of the customers," he says. "Schubert is boldly charting its entirely independent course in terms of technology with its commitment to modular and intelligent TLM packaging lines. At its core, our company's objective is to provide customers with future-proof solutions that are easy to use, flexible, perform extraordinarily well and exhibit excellent functional stability."