IndustrySearch talks with Baron Porter from HBM Packaging Technology about their history as a Packaging Machinery supplier as well their advice to businesses who haven't adapted to new machinery.
Tell us about how HBM started and what you specialise in
HBM started in the early 1980's by Gary Brown who grew up in the plastics industry. He was an expert in processing and packaging and would sell equipment to the plastic manufacturing industry and injection moulding (solutions). That took the company eventually into the liquid beverage industry for filling lines, we develop packaging equipment for beverages (which has been one of our strengths) and the food industry. We have the machine here (on our stand at foodpro) and we decided we will expand into the food industry because it is growing. In the last fifteen years we have expanded into the food industry. We are primarily capital equipment importers, distributors and like to work with European companies, US, Germany, Italy etc. We provide high quality, (at) high prices but we sleep at night.
We have got filling machines from the US, specialised Philips cookers that cook rice, pasta and cook vegetables to prepare meals, probably the best machine for handling these products. We moved on to quality control equipment such as x-ray equipment, vacuum detectors, vision equipment for inspection sealing (this is a fast growing part of the industry). We also have our new machine from Canada, a Pouch machine which is particularly an entry level machine for small companies who are starting and cannot afford continuous motion high speed machines.
What advice would you give to businesses who have not adapted to technology like yours?
I would say to them they need to thoroughly investigate the complete business process, identify weaknesses, investigate solutions for those weaknesses, consult with others, you might have to pay a little bit more but consult with experts, work out the right solutions and then make a right decision on it and never look back.
What challenges are you seeing the food production industry face with new technology?
I think it is two or three things. (Firstly) it's automation. Automation can be very mind unsettling, can be stressful if you are used to doing things by hand and the move from manual operations, semi- automated to automated is a big step.
Robotics are starting to play a big important role in the process and the packaging world and (it's the same when you go back upstream into) the actual handling and packaging of products.
The other is quality assurance equipment, people need to understand the technology that is available and what is available would blow their minds away.
With production lines relying on the constant flow of energy, how are food technology providers being energy conscious?
I guess they have a few questions to ask themselves, everyone needs to have electricity (gas maybe) and the cost of that is growing so how do you reduce that cost? Probably the simplest way to this is to look at the equipment you buy and the electricity and power you need to operate it, you see how you can refine that. You can use a shrink panel to do a secondary check. There are companies out there in the last four to five years that have reduced power consumption for equipment by up to 30%. The big companies that make the drives for the conveyor machines all work and implement higher efficiency models that uses less and less power. So it’s worth investigating.