Krefeld – Percy Dengler took up his position as the new General Manager of Baumer hhs in April 2017. His mission was to lead the company to a successful future and his objective in the medium term is to realise a broad-based transformation plan to change the face of Baumer hhs and dramatically increase sales. We spoke with Mr. Dengler about his vision for Baumer hhs and the plan of action for achieving his goals.
Let’s start by taking stock of the current situation: Where does Baumer hhs stand today in the global market?
Percy Dengler: Baumer hhs has developed very rapidly and dynamically since the company was established in 1986. The former garage startup advanced from the pioneer of non-contact glue application with electropneumatic heads to a leading global supplier of innovative solutions meeting all the requirements of industrial adhesive application, including quality assurance. One critical factor for this success has been our employees’ teamwork and commitment to innovative products and services. And their enthusiasm has rubbed off on our customers and OEM partners. Another factor has been the special technical competence of our field sales staff. Today the Baumer hhs brand is considered the international benchmark for reliability and quality in industrial adhesive application.
In what direction do you want to take the company now?
Percy Dengler: We want to continue strengthening the quality, distinctiveness and name recognition of the Baumer hhs brand in our core markets, which are folding carton, corrugated, end-of-line, print finishing and tobacco. This is an ongoing task and the prerequisite for successful, global growth in future. In short, what we are doing today, we will have to do better tomorrow. Our company will change considerably in the coming years to the benefit of our customers.
So you’re talking about real change management?
Percy Dengler: That’s right. We’re scrutinising processes on all levels and modifying them as necessary. And that includes process management and system support, as well as our corporate culture. Because growth also means change. We’re going as far as defining a new mission statement for the future. In today’s rapidly changing world, employees and customers want to know what their employers or their machine and system suppliers stand for — now more than ever. That’s why we’ve closely analysed a number of questions: What does the Baumer hhs brand name stand for today? How do our customers view us, how do non-customers view us and what do we want their impression of us to be in future? The result is a wider transformation plan that is founded on the latest change management methods, encompasses all areas of our company and is consistently process-oriented. Working in interdisciplinary teams, we have been focusing intensively on target processes and our goals for the future.
And what are they exactly?
Percy Dengler: We have various sub-goals for continuously improving our company on all levels. For example, we will be overhauling our workflows to make them more transparent and efficient, expanding or global network, further enhancing customer satisfaction and in the longer term developing new lines of business. Overall, we want these measures to significantly boost our growth rate once again and enable us to reap above-average gains from our market share.
Those are ambitious goals. Which markets offer Baumer hhs that kind of potential?
Percy Dengler: Our traditional markets, particularly the corrugated industry and industrial packaging, in other words end-of-line processes. In the corrugated market, we still see tremendous growth opportunities for our equipment and services, especially in the Americas and Asia. Thanks to the high-performance and reliability of our solutions, we currently are having very good success in those regions. In Europe, the online market is a source of intense growth and investment right now, and our expertise is enabling us to participate in it to a greater extent than expected.
Since 2015/2016 in the end-of-line packaging market, we have been steadily raising the bar in efficiency and reliability with our tesla electric and aerto pneumatic hot melt application heads. We have achieved very good market acceptance with these products. A continuously rising number of end-of-line solution providers are making the use of our hot melt application equipment mandatory in their specifications for new packing lines. And we’ve been working more closely than ever before with the manufacturers of these machines.
Our new GlueCalc app for smartphones recently became available from the App Store and Google Play. Packaging manufacturers and end-of-line solution providers need to enter only a few parameters in the app to easily calculate order-by-order how much they can reduce glue consumption and CO2 emissions by switching from line to dot application. Many of our customers have been using this method to significantly slash their glue consumption, and to an equal extent their CO2 emissions.
But doesn’t that compromise the durability of the glued joints?
Percy Dengler: Our high-precision tesla electric and aerto pneumatic hot melt application heads make it possible to switch from applying lines of glue to dots on many kinds of packaging — without compromising the durability of the glued joints at all. Our customers confirm they have reduced glue consumption by as much as 50% and more with our hot melt heads. In price-sensitive markets like end-of-line, this is very welcome added value which customers are getting from our products. What is more, our hot melt application heads have a long service life. Take our tesla heads for instance: With their electromagnetic power systems, they function without dynamic seals, which usually are subject to extensive wear and tear. One upshot is that these hot melts head achieve a unique level of reliability.
We have been steadily expanding our portfolio for the hot melt market. Our Xfeed central adhesive supply system for example, which we introduced at FachPack 2018, is generating a great deal of interest among packaging manufacturers, end-of-line solution providers and glue manufacturers alike. The automated Xfeed efficiently supplies adhesive granules on-demand to up to 20 hot melt units from a central storage location. The advantages are obvious: Machine operators no longer have to handle or transport bags of adhesive granules, or stock them in the area around their machines. The hot melt units remain closed at all times during production to rule out the risk of occupational accidents, such as burns. In addition, a central supply of adhesive guarantees that the work environment stays clean. Spillage of granules in production has been eliminated, and the adhesive can no longer be contaminated on the way from material storage to the hot melt systems. Xfeed can enables conveying distances of up to 200 metres. That is unique in the market and supports a wider range of application. With solutions like Xfeed, we are advancing farther into the realm of more project-oriented business, since we are optimising entire processes for our customers.
What about the folding carton market, which has been Baumer hhs’s domain from the very beginning?
Percy Dengler: It continues to be an important revenue driver for our company. We estimate our share of the global folding carton industry to be a good 80%; we still have room for growth in the Americas and Asia. We have to keep in mind that the folding carton market is also growing, albeit at a much more moderate rate than corrugated and end-of-line. We have succeeded time and again in enticing customers away from our competitors. For example, more and more of the large corporate packaging groups are completely switching their adhesive application systems to our solutions. With our products, they get the best results, flexibly meet virtually all demands and have one customer representative worldwide dedicated to any issues they have with glue application or the associated quality assurance. In the folding carton market in particular, we are also an extremely important partner for the various OEMs. We collaborate with them very closely to anticipate the industry’s newest requirements and offer the right solutions.
So where will the journey lead?
Percy Dengler: From a technical standpoint, our focus is on shorter setup times, user friendliness and using process and machine data to optimise production processes. We may even succeed in increasing the production speeds of our folder-gluers. Even back in 1998, our glue application and quality assurance systems were designed for productions speeds of up to 650 m/min. That was a remarkable level of productivity at the time! Today we’re at around 700 m/min. Of course zero-defect production has been increasingly important in recent years, and we’ve been effectively supporting the trend with our end-to-end quality monitoring.
As in all segments of the packaging market, we see three main trends in the folding carton industry: Sustainability, e-commerce and Industry 4.0. The packaging industry is working fast to improve the carbon footprint of its products. Key concepts here include minimizing waste and resource consumption, as well as energy efficiency. The online market is a powerful growth driver, particularly in the corrugated industry. It will generate demand for higher quality and more personalised packaging. With the Flexicoat PSA, we offer a flexible solution in this segment for applying pressure-sensitive adhesive with a silicone cover strip, which enables online sellers to quickly and easily seal their corrugated shipping boxes. According to our information, we are the global market leader here as well.
And how does Baumer hhs see Industry 4.0?
Percy Dengler: Industry 4.0 ultimately means full automation or industrialisation of packaging production with networked systems that communicate with one another. Our customers in the folding carton industry, in particular, will face major challenges from brand name manufacturers in this regard. More than anything else, quality assurance will continue to gain importance for packaging manufacturers. They will be increasingly collecting production data from their machines and processes — not only to continuously optimise their production flows, but also and above all to document the quality they achieve for their customers. Naturally we have all three of these megatrends on our radar in research and development.
What do you mean specifically?
Percy Dengler: The latest generation of our controllers, for instance, is fully Industry 4.0-compatible. Xtend3 provides analyses and statistical data on the gluing process. This information can be used to evaluate overall system efficiency or analyse errors. The controllers are extremely communicative, so they fulfil one of the basic requirements of Industry 4.0, in addition to being very easy to operate via an intuitive multi-touch display. Another example is our innovative DPP-8 double-piston pump, which shows machine operators its status on an integrated display and automatically records and evaluates all critical performance data and sends it to the controllers.
Over many years, Baumer hhs has often done pioneering work in these various fields and will continue to do so. Our customers trust us to supply good products, backed by good services, which make it easier for them to earn money with their production systems. Ultimately, they don’t really buy equipment from us, they buy the glued products. With our systems, tailored to their needs, we give them the capability to manufacture their products in the best-possible way. To keep doing so in future, we need to improve continuously. And this brings us back to our broad-based transformation plan. We have set off down this road and are making progress all the time. We’re one of those companies that continuously reinvents itself. Our new alignment makes our company better prepared to meet the future. For our customers, that means even greater investment protection.
What role is your parent company, Baumer Group, playing in all this?
Percy Dengler: Since acquiring Baumer hhs in 2001, it has been supporting its wholly owned subsidiary on all levels. We will be integrating our business with the Baumer Group more closely and, for example, exploiting and expanding the shared strengths of our global sales and service networks. This will bring us even closer to our customers all over the world. Our claim – Let’s stick together – is a perfect match. The play on words reflects both the high quality of glue application with our systems, and the close collaboration on all levels of our organisation and with our customers worldwide.