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Ishida: Innovation is key

06 August 2010

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW Mike Heffernan, director of sales – core products, talks about the company's position post-recession, and says innovation is what keeps Ishida Europe ahead of its competition

Heffernan, who recently sat down with FP Express, was asked what about Ishida Europe's process sets it apart from its competitors: ''If I had to sum it up in one word it would be ‘innovation’. Our NPD record is second to none. We're constantly pushing the boundaries in terms of machine performance and the type of products our equipment can handle.

''More recently, our focus has widened to include the design and installation of complete and fully automated lines. And of course, whatever the installation our close working partnerships with customers means we are there to support them from the very start of the project until when (or if!) the machine is finally decommissioned.''

With respect to how the recession affected Ishida, Heffernan said: ''Because we predominantly supply the food industry, we've been better able to ride out the recession than many other companies. Nevertheless, we did see a slight slowdown in sales with some major projects temporarily postponed.''

And as for the upturn: ''Ishida solutions are very much focused on improving efficiencies, maximising throughput and reducing waste and giveaway. These are vital benefits for all business whatever the economic climate but undoubtedly the tough recent times have further increased the focus on these areas. As companies start to invest again, they are therefore very interested in how we can help them become even more streamlined and efficient.''

Heffernan says Ishida Europe's business is probably about 98% with the food industry but within that the variety of sectors the company serves is 'huge':

''As well as traditional food markets such as snacks, confectionery, dried foods and frozen foods, Ishida has developed a reputation for extending weighing technology into new areas which were originally thought too challenging – everything from fresh meat, fish, poultry and salads to dried fruits and multi-ingredient ready meals.''

Then there's ‘lean manufacturing’: ''Ishida technology is focused on the elimination of waste and improvements to speeds and efficiencies and these areas are just as important to us in the manufacture of our equipment,'' says Heffernan. ''Indeed, while ‘lean manufacturing’ is a relatively new term in the European market, it is something that Ishida has always embraced through the establishment of good working partnerships with our suppliers to optimise supply in terms of cost, quality and just in time delivery.''

Sustainability is always important to Ishida too, says Heffernan. ''Sustainability has always been central to Ishida new product development. Our machines help reduce waste and over the years, advances in technology have continued to make them even more efficient, for example in terms of reduced electricity and compressed air consumption. Equally we work with our suppliers to make our own manufacturing operations as efficient and environmentally-friendly as possible.''

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