The Rockwell Automation blog recently had the chance to catch up with Bob Lemmen of Lantech, the godfathers of the stretch-wrapping industry, to find out more about how a global OEM collaborates to compete on the world stage.
RA BLOG [RAB]: Hi Bob – tell us a little about yourself – how long have you been with Lantech and what brought you to the company?
Bob Lemmen [BL]: Hello! I've been with Lantech for over ten years, initially as a Sales Support Manager but more recently in my new role as Marketing Manager. Due to the growth of Lantech and our ambition we decided to set up a full marketing role with the goal to focus on the future growth.
RAB: Can you tell us a little about Lantech, the machines that you develop and the markets for them?
[BL]: Lantech specialises in the development, assembly and marketing of modern packaging machines. With over 40 years of experience we are very close to the market and able to react quickly to the trends and technology in packaging. Our passion is focused on optimising packaging processes in the ‘end of line' part of the process. Over the years we've been able to introduce major innovations that help simplify the packaging of our customers' final product to deliver a maximum return on investment.
Lantech effectively started the stretch wrapping industry back in 1972 and over the years we've made more than 65,000 machines for sale worldwide. Over the years we've been an early adopter of Lean Manufacturing technology, which has proven itself in many applications and has become a way of life in Lantech, resulting in high quality, highly efficient products.
RAB: As an OEM, your products and innovation are driven by the end users of the machinery. Apart from the lean and efficiency, what are the needs of your customers today?
[BL]: Lantech serves both small and medium-sized enterprises in a wide range of industry sectors including healthcare, chemicals and food & drink. We always look at the complete picture and want to know what our customers hope to achieve.
They all have their own individual requirements in terms of machine functionality. Our focus is not only on selling machines, we want to help our customers and create solutions tailored to tackle their issues. We're also very interested in developing machines that ensure ease of operation and maintenance while driving down the total cost of ownership and operation. Both of these points are of course key priorities for customers as well.
In order to enter new global markets and increase its market share, Lantech works closely with sales managers all over the world to offer continuous training and support. In addition to this highly personalised service, another reason behind our global growth is our wide network of more than 200 partners. Our relationship with Rockwell Automation is important here too – both from the perspective of increasing our global reach through the partner programme, and because by using Rockwell Automation components as a standard we are able to deliver two further key aspects of our customers' requirements concerning ease of integration and availability of data. Our leading L series stretch wrappers, for example, use CompactLogix programmable automation controllers (PACs) and Allen-Bradley PowerFlex drives to control the film delivery system and payout. The machines also feature Allen-Bradley PanelView™ Plus human machine interfaces (HMIs) to access the Machine Generated Performance Data™.
RAB: Once you've sold a machine does your relationship with the end user end there?
[BL]: No – in fact it's the start of our relationship with our customers. We have an extended global service network. From the Lantech service we are able to offer installation of new machines, service support, spare parts and repairs. Lantech works with service partners worldwide who are trained at Lantech with the goal to provide local service on a high level.
RAB: What do you see as the most interesting emerging technology or trends within manufacturing and how do you see it changing in the future?
[BL]: We're seeing a trend in various issues including raised capacities, uptime, environmental issues, shelf ready packaging and damage reduction. Product packaging is changing rapidly in its shape and design. It's more and more critical to develop and design machines that can handle these changes to guarantee flexibility for the customer. The fast changing market is pushing us to stay alert and close to the market in order to act accordingly.
RAB: Thanks for joining us, Bob – we've got more information about Rockwell Automation and Lantech, and of course the Lantech web site.
[BL]: Thanks for inviting me to speak and anyone interested should also feel free to get in touch.