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'This business values people highly'

18 July 2011

Peter Wylie, MD of Automated Packaging Systems, talks to FP Express about how well the company is doing and about the FAS SPrint Revolution

Can you define what Automated Packaging Systems does?
Automated Packaging Systems manufactures and supports packaging and bagging systems for awide range of applications including food; systems with the flexibility to handle varying product sizes and production runs efficiently and with minimal wasted labour and packaging material. We design and build our packaging systems, extrude, print and convert film to the required specification. We also provide technical support and service for all aspects of our packaging system. At Interpack in Germany we launched our wash-down system specially designed for food producers, FAS SPrint Revolution.

When, why and by whom was it established in the UK?
Automated Packaging set up a European facility in 1984, to support and grow an existing customer base in France, Germany and the UK that until 1984 had been serviced from the US. Today the company has its European Headquarters in Malvern,Worcestershire with a large manufacturing capability. It still remains in family ownership and 2012 will be the company's 50-year anniversary since its humble beginnings in the US in 1962. Many of those responsible for establishing the European operation are still in post today - this is a business which values people highly. By retaining the best people within our business, we're able to offer better service, support and reliability to our customers.

How did the recession affect Autobag – if at all?
We felt the initial dip as customers tightened their belts. It was noticeable customers ran stocks of bags to lower levels than usual while they watched to see what would happen to their markets. Many customers suffered during the recession, as much through uncertainty as a genuine long-term decline in market size and share. Autobag, AirPouch and SidePouch brands are uniquely able to thrive in a recession; they enable businesses to quickly increase output with relatively low levels of investment, no new labour and little training. These characteristics make them ideal for entrepreneurial businesses looking to take market share in the aftermath of a recession, stepping up production to meet growing demand. Success supporting entrepreneurial ventures such as these, as well as our determination to provide value and service to more established customers, has enabled us to grow our own business in the past 12 months.

Are you finding the recovery is having a positive effect on your business?
Our uniqueability to meet the needs of young, rapidly-growing businesses certainly means we're looking ahead with confidence. We're positive for another reason too; our investment in new product development and materials development will see us launch two new bagging systems this year, both into areas which we've been servicing in a limited way until now. We've just completed the launch of a sterilisable packaging system designed for single use medical applications requiring in-pack sterilisation, and we're now launching a similarly-specialist system - FAS SPrint Revolution - offering food producers and packers total flexibility, quick set-up, minimal wastage and daily wash-down.

How much business does Automated Packaging Systems do with the food industry?
Relatively little in Europe until now, although we have a proven track record with the US food industry. Our AB 180 is relied on by an increasing number of food processors, mainly for multi-packing and over-bagging. FAS SPrint Revolution has full wash-down capability. We're confident it will be well received as it enables food processors, seasonal producers and those with a diverse product range to improve efficiency, cut labour costs and increase brand value.

How important will the food sector be to you in 2011 and beyond?
Very important - the sector offers us significant growth potential. We've invested heavily to ensure the FAS SPrint Revolution can deliver customers the efficiency savings necessary for us to achieve our objectives.

What can you tell us about your new FAS SPrint Revolution?
FAS SPrint is a highly flexible bagging system for wash-down environments, designed to increase capacity and packaging efficiency for food producers. The system operates up to 6x faster than hand packaging but retains all the flexibility ofa manual operation - it can be brought into action within minutes and bag changes can be done just as quickly. Operation is easy, minimal training is required and there is a range of bag features on offer including perforations, zip fasteners, custom sizes and branding. The system is on show in our demonstration facility at Malvern and we'd encourage anyone reviewing their packaging operation to bring some of their products along to trial it.

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