"Quality, reliability, operating convenience, and a fast reaction time."
TM VELCOM, the Russian meat processing company, uses more than 20 different packaging solutions from MULTIVAC in its operation. We spoke to Tatiana Vasiljeva, Deputy General Director for Supply Chain Management, at the Pawlowskaja Sloboda meat processing factory about the requirements of both the market and the company, when it comes to the packaging solutions used - and how far the MULTIVAC machines meet these demands.
Mrs Vasiljeva, it is no secret that the average income of the population has fallen in recent times, which has led to a reduction in consumption. This has, of course, had an effect on producers. When selecting your packaging technology, did you have to put up with cheaper packaging solutions in order to prevent price rises for your products?
A high-quality pack ensures product safety is maintained from the point of manufacture to the consumer's refrigerator. TM VELCOM guarantees the safety and quality of its products. We have never pursued cost savings at the expense of pack quality. Also we have always rejected compromises on aspects associated with the customer's perception of our products. Quite the contrary: we always follow the latest trends and innovations in packaging technology for all the products that we manufacture. This approach enables us to satisfy the demands of even the most discerning purchasers. We use other options to optimise our cost basis, for example by increasing our management efficiency, which in turn enables costs in the production process to be reduced. In order to do that, we developed a KPI management system in 2008, and since 2010 we have been working with SAP ERP.
Could you please explain the packaging technologies you use in more detail?
Today we are already using many modern packaging solutions. These include vacuum skin packs for ready-to-serve sausage products (MultiFresh™ technology), MULTIVAC FormShrink and modified atmosphere packs, as well as multi-packs for customers in the hotel and catering industries. In the case of all the packs mentioned above, we use multi-layer barrier films. This enables us to achieve an attractive pack, which offers the optimum protection. The visual properties of the films also provide an attractive presentation of our products at the point of sale.
What demands do Russian consumers currently place on packaging for food products?
In the current situation the market demands lower packaging weight and smaller pack formats. We are currently ordering equipment, which produces packs with smaller dimensions, for our Pawlowskaja Sloboda meat processing factory. We also use innovative packaging materials, such as films with built-in UV barrier or materials that enable the pack to be opened easily.
Which packaging machines are used in your packing areas?
At the VELCOM meat processing company we use more than 20 MULTIVAC packaging solutions, because this specialist packaging manufacturer is highly regarded by companies throughout the world.
Excellent reviews are one thing. But how do you verify these in your own business? What are the strengths of this equipment, which persuade you to use machines from MULTIVAC?
We have been working with MULTIVAC now since 2000. The many years of cooperation with the packaging specialist have convinced us that only MULTIVAC machines and the technical support that comes with them can meet our requirements at the highest level. These include quality, reliability, operating convenience, and a fast reaction in times of emergency. To us, quality means the high standard, to which the machines and individual components are manufactured, as well as the reliability and long lifespan of the equipment. Our aim is to reduce unplanned downtime to a minimum, but if it does arise, the problem must be solved as quickly as possible by the supplier's customer service. We also place equal importance on the rapid delivery of wearing and spare parts, which we require in order to carry out machine servicing. We are also very keen on ensuring the operation of the equipment is kept simple. This also means our staff have no problems when learning about the operation and servicing of new machines. With MULTIVAC machines we have become used to the fact that the operators do not require long periods of training in order to be able to operate the equipment.
Another crucial point for us is the machines are only constructed of materials, which are approved for use in contact with food, and also that the machine design complies with all the latest requirements on hygiene design. MULTIVAC machines are exceptionally well designed in this respect; we see this in every new packaging machine placed into operation here in our company.
We have become very used to being able to rely on the experience and expertise of MULTIVAC. When we select packaging solutions, we take into account not only the technical aspects but also the pack quality, such as how easy it is for the consumer to open the pack. The aesthetics of a finished product also depend largely on the quality of the pack. But there is also another reason we mainly use MULTIVAC machines: the uniform concept of the machines makes servicing of all the equipment much easier for us, since many parts and modules are interchangeable. This uniformity enables us to optimise our servicing and repair costs by reducing the range of spare parts we hold. Any required parts, which we do not hold, are guaranteed to be available at MULTIVAC's warehouse, and they can be delivered to us within a very short period of time.
Do you believe that you will have to extend the use of automated solutions in the packing area?
We have long since come to the conclusion that automation must have a high priority for us, since it enables us to standardise our production processes, maintain product quality at a consistently high level from batch to batch, and also of course to minimise our operating costs. Without automation it is impossible to prevent human error. In addition to this, we are currently working with MULTIVAC on a new project to introduce an automated packaging line.
VELCOM is well known for its innovative approach to equipping the company with the latest technology. What was the most recent technology you introduced?
You are right, we are always striving to remain with the times, when it comes to using new technology in our production. VELCOM was, for example, the first meat processor in Russia to introduce the SAP Enterprise Resource Planning system. In July 2018 the factory introduced the “Merkuriy” geoinformation system, which ensures products can be tracked from the supermarket shelf back to a specific meat processing factory. We were the first company to introduce MULTIVAC FormShrink for packing portioned sausage and other processed meats. We should also not fail to mention that Pawlowskaja Sloboda is a market leader in the production of bacon, packed on four different models of MULTIVAC thermoforming packaging machines: R 126, R 535, R 255, and R 175. It is also important to note that we have installed a system for automatically inspecting the seal seams of packs. In addition to visual inspection, we also use a system for automated seal seam inspection. All of this was introduced to ensure a consistently high quality is maintained for all our manufactured products.