28 January 2021
These times are incredibly turbulent but also dynamic. Developments follow each other in rapid succession. That is why I want to pause each quarter, to look back a little, but even more so, to look forward. As the CEO of Audion Packaging Machines, I will highlight internal developments and look at the world around us. How we respond to this changing world and why, I hope to explain clearly. The aim is to communicate with you, our employees, our dealers and our customers and to keep doing so.
In this article I will discuss the following developments at Audion Packaging Machines:
- Developments Audion Packaging Machines in 2020
- Worldwide network of packaging machine dealers
- Innovation dealer network
- Dealer network growth
- Product innovation & product development
- Innovation in packaging machines for e-commerce
- Validated packaging in Pharma and Medical processes
- Food: B2C and industrial packaging
Developments Audion Packaging Machines in 2020
In the early 2020s, before the global pandemic reached Europe and large parts of the rest of the world, the future looked very bright. Our production was at full speed and the order intake had never been so high. But at the end of Q1 it became clear that no one was going to be spared the consequences of the pandemic. In geographical markets that are important to Audion we saw orders quickly falling away. We were faced with sales losses. I have not seen the extent of those sales losses in my time at Audion.
Despite all the developments, we just kept on producing, innovating and especially selling. I am therefore very proud of the way in which our flexible organisation together with our enterprising dealer network, quickly accepted the new reality. We quickly realized the potential of efficient video callings taking the place of personal appointments. Of course everybody longs for the day that we can meet again in real life and shake hands. But in my view digital meetings will not disappear altogether.
The increased efficiency and accumulated stocks gave us a boost in Q3 and Q4. Partly due to Covid-19, there was a large demand for our packaging solutions in markets such as e-commerce and pharma/medical. In food, our third strategic target market, we also saw increased demands for packaging solutions. Restaurants had to close which caused a transition to take-away meals. The growth in pharma/medical and e-commerce was obvious.
Our focus on these three markets, our team, our dealer network, and our stocks made sure that Q4 of 2020 could just about make up for the entire year. We were lucky to have the right people, the right products and active in the right markets. Despite all consequences and the restrictive measures that are still in place, I can see that the positive trend will continue and lead to good results at the end of this year.
Worldwide network of packaging machine dealers
Audion has an excellent network of dealers. They are our representatives in over 60 countries. Often there is one dealer per country, in some large countries the dealer has a distribution network. Those dealer networks are extremely important for our growth and business objectives.
It is our ambition to increase that network. That is why we are in constant talks with potential new dealers. Especially in these times, it is these dedicated and stock-keeping dealers that give Audion a competitive advantage. Logistic chains were vulnerable but dedicated dealers with stock have made the difference in their markets. The Covid-19 effects showed that the basic principle “Stock is king” is the simple truth.
Innovation dealer network
I would like to specifically mention a case of good entrepreneurship in our dealer network. I have been delighted to see the response of our dealers in Australia to developments. As I said, the food sector underwent a transition from “eating out” to “take-away”. Many restaurants had to start packing food to be transported in a hygienic way. But investing in our packaging machines is obviously a bridge too far for this hard-hit sector. This was immediately responded to by applying the global trend – from possession to use. Restaurants could make use of high-end packaging machines without the direct investment. This great commercial success meant that many customers have come to know (and probably like our company) and are probably already fans of our brand.
But there’s more info from Australia. We are of course talking about a huge continent. The dealer mentioned, with a strong focus on the food market and pharma/medical market, but less on the E-commerce market. Appointing a second dealer, with a strong focus on that strategic E-commerce target market, led to a win-win situation. This strong product-market combination focus enables both dealers to provide better service without a negative impact on the commercial objectives. This makes everyone better, Audion, our dealers, but especially the customer.
Dealer network growth
We are now active in 60 countries, so there are still countries left. We will continue to look for dealers in those countries. And in those countries we are active, we will continue, together with our dealer network, to look for parties willing and able to focus on a specific area (in large countries) or on a specific strategic target market.
Product innovation & product development
What to expect from Audion in the near future?
Firstly, by identifying four strategic target markets: food, e-commerce, parts and medical/pharma, we will reduce the number of Audion products. In recent years we developed products whenever there was a demand, even outside these markets. We will no longer develop these products and will phase out existing products that do not fit in one of the target markets. In this way we will soon have a narrower product range with products that fit in with one of the strategic target markets. Some machines, for example the Magneta stainless steel bi-active, have been overdeveloped. It actually exceeds the requirements of the food industry. The machine is so versatile that it has become less functional and too expensive. We are now configuring all machines for specific demands of one of the four markets. The result: we will soon have a better machine that fits in with the market and does what it is supposed to do, for less money.
Innovation in packaging machines for e-commerce
This market is of course developing extremely fast. To keep up with fast innovations we will develop our series Speedpack Hybrid. This series actually consists of three machines. Each machine can be expanded with multiple options, to offer solutions for almost any packaging issue in e-commerce. The three machines:
- Speedpack table top 300, suitable for bag widths up to 300 mm. A multi-purpose machine especially for e-fulfillment environments where smaller products are packed.
- The Speedpack Hybrid 400 front labeller. It uses tubular film and can produce any desired bag length. The flexible length, the automatic labelling and the next-bag-out principle will save 25 to 30% on film material, a great reduction of costs and waste. In addition, the automatic label system will let e-fulfilment organisations save on labour costs. Simply because fewer operations are required and more packages can be processed in less time.
- Finally, in the Speedpack Hybrid series, we produce the 550. This is specifically for larger packages, such as clothing. The maximum width is 550 mm and the length of course again flexible.
Another novelty that we must not forget is our own film. We developed co-extruded film specifically for e-commerce. This film consists of 2 layers, black on the inside and white on the outside. This makes it impossible to see what is inside the packaging, which reduces the risk of theft and enhances privacy. More importantly, we can now offer a full package of machine and film. Because this film was developed specifically for Audion machines, we can offer the right quality and reduce failures and downtime for our users. Our film is available in all widths from 50 to 550 mm.
We still see e-commerce as a relatively young market. The fact that Audion is a leading player in this market together with the innovators, makes me proud. We offer a solution to almost any demand and continue to innovate automation and robotisation in order to stay ahead in the future.
Validated packaging in Pharma and Medical processes
Our packaging solutions for this strategic target market are very substantial. By nature, this is a challenging market, and rightly so. Packaging is essential in terms of cleanliness. Packaging must be free of contamination and of course packaging or opening a package must comply with the set standards. This requires a different level of validation. Our new line, the Powersealer Plus, is fully validated. Sealing temperature, sealing pressure and sealing time are all stored settings. Also the data of the user, who was the operator, the time and many other parameters are added to the dataset. In the pharma/medical industry where traceability is a key requirement, the Powersealer Plus is the ideal packaging solution. But as developments continued, we designed a new operating system for our touch screens: Audion Techware. We have implemented this functionality extensively in order to offer customers uniform ease of use. Each machine in the Audion range with a touch screen now works the same. Not only can operators work faster but they can also operate more machines at the same time. The advantage: lower error margins and increased efficiency. Is this all for now? Not quite yet, at the moment we are fully engaged in remote operation of our machines. So, expect more innovations in the near future.
Food: B2C and industrial packaging
Last year the new Audion Tray sealers were introduced. This range consists of three models. The two smallest models are the MSS and the MTS, which are mainly used for B2C purposes, including ready-made meals or take-away. Restaurants investing in this machine will directly benefit from increased hygiene and better packaging. For more retail food applications, increased shelf life is also important. For this purpose, the machine can be equipped with a propellant option (MAP: Modified Atmosphere Packaging). The oxygen in the package will be replaced by a gas and increase the shelf life. This new line of tray sealers is on the market (MTS) or will be introduced soon (MSS: March 2021).
There is more good news. For industrial applications in the food sector, such as suppliers for the catering industry and bulk packaging, we have developed the AMAPS. The size of this packaging machine is larger and fully adapted to gastro norm sizes. This means that the dimensions fully comply with the standardised norms for transport and storage. A feature of this machine is the vacuum process. All our competitors, as far as I know, work with vacuum pumps, our machine does not. It blows propellant according to the venturi principle between the film and the tray. This offers many advantages. The machine is faster, quieter and propellants increase the products shelf life. In addition, the technology is simpler, which requires less maintenance and leads to a longer operational life.
We rounded off the year 2020 on a positive note, despite the developments and difficult measures that forced us to remain competitive. I face the future with much energy and confidence, and I hope that this quarterly report, although perhaps a little extensive, will pass this feeling on to all my colleagues, dealers and our customers. And, as I said at the beginning, I am looking forward to hearing your feedback and discussing opportunities to contribute even better to the continued growth of the great brand of Audion Packaging Machines.
- Table top sealers
- Medical / pharma / high tech packaging
- Vacuum packaging
- Automatic packaging
- Shrink packaging
- Rotary / Band sealers
- Tray sealers
- Packaging material – Consumables
- Packaging machine E-commerce
- Handsealer and more about sealing a bag
- How to pack medical instruments
- Packaging output optimization and savings in E-Fulfillment
Audion Elektro UK
Unit 4, Centurion Way Business Park,
T: (0)1332 404330
Company No 03856331
Trade reg. Hilversum: 32057820
Audion Elektro GmbH