STANDARDISATION TO WRAP UP THE STORY NICELY

Posted by Bob Lemmen

Modular construction puts Lantech at the forefront of its sector

Lantech is growing, year on year. At its new location in Malden the packaging machine manufacturer is ready for the future. And, right here inside its new premises, it is evident where standardised production will take it. Efficient and modular construction: Lantech has long been aware of the value of this.

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The new building is spacious, with easy access from nearby roads. Here, in Malden, Gelderland, Lantech can keep moving forward. However, its growth may not continue as rapidly as over the last year… Whereas Lantech had around a hundred staff at the start of 2017, it already has 45 more than that now. Marketing manager Bob Lemmen is still rather impressed by that. “More and more Orders are coming in. There has always been growth, but never as rapid as last year. That was truly exceptional.”

But what can you expect when you’re a packaging machine manufacturer that has built up such a good name for itself? Reliable, high-quality products: they know what’s important here in Malden. For companies worldwide, including multinationals in the food sector and logistics, price is not their main concern. They attach much greater importance to continual production, which must never grind to a halt. “So, that’s how we help our customers,” explains Bob. “Take our case erector for example, which is where it all began for us. We supply these with a 99.5% up-time guarantee and we prove that in practice. Potential customers know that and they can see how our machines work at our existing customers. This transparency typifies us. We are down-to-earth, no-nonsense people. And we are committed to durable products that are simply good-quality.”

The epitome of Lean

But there’s more to it than just a good reputation. At the new location, it is evident how smoothly everything is running. The logistics and assembly rooms are the epitome of Lean, which, as a philosophy, focuses on greater efficiency with as few people and resources as possible. And that’s something Lantech excels at, Bob explains. “We are open to ideas that are contributed by our own staff. We don’t hold meetings. Instead we gather together briefly each morning around whiteboards and we give each action point a name. This enables us to tackle issues head-on.”

And this approach means new ideas come up automatically. So, between the high scaffolding, there are low racks which pickers drive along on carts designed by Lantech. These racks hold all the parts needed for a product or project, so the pickers ensure that their colleagues in the work cells always have the right parts. And once a machine is ready, it goes through another door to the logistics area, ready to be shipped. Everything works really well together, Bob says. “When we moved, we thought very carefully about this set-up. Lean keeps us engaged.”

Furthermore, as dedicated as every employee is, the company’s suppliers are equally engaged. Peter Kooken, product manager for cable technology at itsme, still remembers the Lean sessions he attended at Lantech. “They gave us a good insight into Lantech’s way of working. Just-in-time deliveries are hugely important here and we are happy to help with that, using a 2BIN system among other things. I’ve been visiting Lantech for years, and throughout that time I’ve watched it grow into the business it is today. That makes me proud. For itsme, Lantech is a real selling point.”

300 options, plug-and-play

With Lean playing such a big role here, standardisation couldn’t be left out of the production process. Consequently, Lantech got in early with configure-to-order so that it could continue to meet global demand for packaging machines. “We have a stable supply, and we can offer 90% to 95% of that modularly,” says Bob. “That gives us around 300 options that we can currently supply as plug-and-play and that number is still growing.”

However, according to Bob, the latter doesn’t just happen easily. “We hold multiple internal audits of specific machine groups each year, where we review what we’ve sold in the previous year and what is in the pipeline but not yet on the shelf. If we can see a trend, only then will we add a product to our modular range as a permanent feature. So, we look at the longer term, not just at one machine.”

Building on our own story

It is this standardisation that is giving Lantech a very clear market position. “We know what we’re good at,” says Bob. “So, we profile ourselves very specifically as a machine supplier. The same goes for our case packers for example, with which we limit ourselves to rigid products. We don’t allow ourselves to get side-tracked as that would mean deviating from our story, and we want to avoid that.”

Clear choices. Control over own processes. These aspects are hugely important for Lantech too, emphasises Bob. “We only accept a project if we know our customer’s cases or we have them in-house. We also prefer to sit down with both the customer and the case supplier so that we know our machines can fulfil all the requirements. If you can manage the process, you can work on trust. And ultimately, that is what good customer relationships are built on.”

Leading the field in end-of-line

At Lantech, they see themselves as the Mercedes of end-of-line packaging machines. And that isn’t something marketing manager Bob Lemmen says lightly. “We can prove it, with machines that contribute reliably to continuous production.” That’s how they came to have such a close working relationship with multinationals, especially in the food sector and logistics, for whom Lantech is on the list of preferred suppliers. And that’s the reason for the continued growth, which didn’t even diminish during the recession. Lantech has two production locations: in Malden the company makes packaging machines, while in Louisville in the United States it manufactures pallet-wrapping machines. Lantech also has sales offices spread across several continents.

This article was originally published on issuu.com. You can find the original article here.

This post was published on August 21, 2018 and updated on August 21, 2018.

Topics: Lantech