Thursday, 16 January 2014


End of line equipment specialist, Endoline Machinery, has assisted a leading supermarket supplier of fresh produce in meeting a demand increase for prepared fruit bowls with the installation of five stainless steel packing lines – increasing output to 10 tonnes of fruit per day.

This company is one of the UK’s leading fresh produce manufacturers, specialising in the supply of bagged salads, prepared fruit and leafy salad bowls and trays to major retail and food service companies. As the company faced a surge in demand for prepared fruit bowls the need for greater production space grew as their Project Manager explains: “As orders increased so too did the need for greater capacity and we couldn’t fit any more equipment into our existing factories so a purpose built facility was constructed to house the processing and packaging of our fruit and salad lines.”

Automation specialist Endoline was appointed to create five packing lines within the new site consisting of case erectors and case sealers to boost the production lines.   Historically box sealers were used within our factories however within the new purpose built site we were looking to enhance the automation to increase throughput,” explains the project manager.  A key requirement in the design of the machinery was for it to be constructed in stainless steel for a fully wash down specification to meet stringent hygiene regulations.

As all of their equipment range can be built with stainless steel Endoline recommended the installation of their 100 series of Semi Automatic case erectors.  While being the ideal first step to automation this range offers an efficient alternative to manually erecting boxes and is capable of dealing with an array of different case sizes.  Paul Ryder, Endoline’s Regional Account Manager, comments: “This company packs over a dozen different case sizes, including very narrow and low SRP cases, dependent on the customer requirements so it was essential that the equipment we installed was able to deal with the changes with no changeover time. Therefore our machinery was modified to both meet their mechanical/electrical specification and to cope with all of the varying case sizes.”

The ready packed bowls of fruit are hand packed into the erected boxes via a conveyor belt which then feeds the filled boxes into the Endoline semi automatic random case sealer – automatically sealing both the top and bottom of the box simultaneously.  Paul comments: “The sealers we installed automatically adjust its height and width settings to deal with the various box sixes running through.”

Since semi-automating the packing lines this fresh produce manufacturer has dramatically improved their output and production efficiency with the redeployment of manual workers. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Endoline’s same day ROI!

Manufacturers no longer have to wait months for their packing equipment to provide a return on investment – for as little as £35 per day packing halls can begin to automate their production processes and see an instant ROI!

Emerging from the recession manufacturers have warmed to the idea that automation is one of the quickest ways to boost productivity and reduce labour costs.  Nevertheless the demand for economical automated solutions exists and there are still those who prefer to err on the side of caution. 

To meet this need case erecting, loading and sealing equipment specialist Endoline offer affordable automation options including a leasing facility to help packers better manage their cashflow.  No different to leasing a car, the service grants firms quick access to finance, helping manufacturers to easily purchase packing equipment with flexible payments terms to suit individual requirements.

Not only benefitting from an instant ROI, installation of the latest case technology is helping UK manufacturers to automate labour intensive tasks, as well as improving throughput and product quality from day one!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

It's Showtime!

Double dips, credit crunches, the ‘slump’ and the dreaded ‘R’ word – there is no doubt that companies have suffered over the last few years, however many may believe that due to the unsettled climate of the economy trade shows are a thing of the past – WRONG! Trade shows and exhibitions are from becoming extinct and in my opinion are still the best ways to gain recognition within your industry.

Exhibitions are a powerful marketing tool.  Nearly 100,000 businesses market themselves at exhibitions every year in the UK and research shows that, particularly at larger events, over 60 per cent of visitors are from middle management or above, of which 90 per cent of these people are in a position to buy with a third of visitors looking for new suppliers.

With sales and marketing budgets under the magnifying glass and return on investment under intense scrutiny, it has never been more important to spend money wisely and what could be a better advertisement for your company than by exhibiting?  If done correctly exhibiting can be an extremely effective advertisement for your company.  The key is to choose the best exhibition for your company where you know your target audience will be.  Your exhibition stand allows people to see, handle, and experience your product or service first hand and any further information they need can be clarified with you, or your team in face-to-face communication giving you the benefit of a hands-on response with potential customers and therefore sales leads….how many other forms of marketing allows this?

Some people may still argue against this, as these days almost every company worth their salt has a website where customers can gain all the knowledge they need on your products and services - if you are able to purchase something online from the comfort of your own office why spend the time and money attending an exhibitions or trade show to find what you are looking for, especially in these tough times? To some extent this may be true but looking at a website doesn’t compare to attending an event or exhibition where you can see for yourself what is new while creating face-to-face contacts that cannot be done over the phone or by email.  Exhibiting is crucial to attracting new business in your market but also to create new contacts that may come in useful in the future.  If funding is a problem, just concentrate your efforts on attending one or two specific shows a year, rather than a large amount throughout the year, as this will keep your costs down while still keeping your presence known in your industry.

‘We get it!’ I hear you cry! So your stand is booked, but how do you make sure that yours stands out from the masses and, more importantly, from that of your competitors?  There are so many options you can choose for your exhibition stand from simple pop-ups or banners to a custom-built double-decker stand across two aisles. Work with a reputable exhibition design and build company, listen to their support and advice, sit down with them and discuss your budget, if they have the right knowledge and experience they will know how to advise you on building brand awareness and getting the most out of your attendance. An eye catching stand is possible whatever your budget!

So, you’ve spent time and money on your stand – your team has spent a considerable amount of time in the last few months on the pre-planning and the build up while your sales team has cleared the decks for the few days and is out in force, primed and ready to greet existing customers while looking for prospective business. So how do you maximize your presence and make the most of your investment? Firstly you have to decide what’s important to you over the course of the exhibition, are you:
-          Looking to obtain new sales leads
-          Establishing your name in the industry
-          Launching a new product or service
-          Looking for new distributor partners

Once your objectives are agreed brief the team who will be present on your stand – and at the same time ensure that they have the correct attire to create a smart first impression while on the stand! Also the degree of preparation will be the difference between getting the most from the exhibition and being a lost opportunity. Consider the following activities:

-          Mail complimentary visitor tickets to your customers and invite them to the show
-          Nominate 20 of your most important customers to be VIP’s
-          Remember to include advertising within your pre-planning and don’t forget your stand number!
-          Issue a press release on what you will be exhibiting and importantly what’s new, then distribute to the press ahead of their show previews (a good couple of months before the show is the rule of thumb - not the week before!)
-          Plan a press launch on your stand targeting press that write for the publications you know your customers read

Crucial to maximizing your presence at a show is the exhibition organiser’s website.  The Show’s comprehensive website enables both visitors and exhibitors alike to pre-plan their visit, identify the stands and show attractions they want to view on the day.  So it is critical that you keep your web listing up to date, upload press releases and assign yourself to the relevant product categories.  Place the show’s logo on the front page of your company website with a link to the show’s website.  It has been documented by Reed Exhibitions that exhibitors who made maximum use of the web facilities received around twice the number of hits to those who did not.  Equally important Reed research shows that 90% of visitors to their exhibitions will register online, further underlining the importance of utilizing this valuable tool.

When on the stand remember to greet your visitors – there is nothing worse than approaching a stand full of people talking on their mobiles or amongst themselves, eating, or with their back to you!  Keep one diary filled with visitor appointments but make sure that you always have enough cover for the stand to greet people walking by…and keep smiling!

Written by Alan Yates, MD & Chairman of Endoline Machinery and President of the PPMA

See Endoline Machinery at ImPacked at Hayssen Sandiacre, Nottingham 7th-11th October 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Jason Grey, a young man who has the optimism, initiative and self belief

In the field of business, as in the community at large, it is not uncommon to hear heated discussions taking place about the availability of suitably qualified and reliable labour. No matter how large or small a business, recruiting and retaining good people remains a challenge and the discourse surrounding this issue – whether in the business or political environment, is very often negative and depressing in content. How nice then to share a more positive experience.
Biggleswade based Endoline Machinery Ltd designs and manufactures high quality packaging machinery for industry. Although a privately owned SME, Endoline is the supplier of choice to some of the worlds best known companies – Pepsico, Amazon, Kraft and Tesco to name but a few.

 Thanks to astute management, excellent products and most importantly, an efficient and dedicated workforce, Endoline has bucked the economic trend since 2008 and performed very strongly throughout the recession. Such has been its success that it is currently embarked on a very exciting program of expansion and investment which has required the recruitment of new staff in several areas of the business. When local resident Jason Grey literally knocked on the door, announced that he was seeking employment and asked politely whether there were any vacancies, his determined approach so impressed the management team that he was invited to apply for the role of store attendant – a role that was vacant at the time.

Accepting the invitation, Jason was subsequently the successful candidate for the position and has now been with the company for 3 months, during which time he has taken on his new role with interest and enthusiasm, slotting seamlessly into the Endoline team where he has made a very positive impression. The “can do, will do” approach that led him to Endoline in the first instance is continuing to serve both Endoline and Jason well, as he recently embarked on an internal training programme that will enable him to build a number of sub assemblies ready for integration into machines as they are assembled in the factory.

Endoline owner and Managing Director Alan Yates commented, “Endoline is a competitive UK manufacturer. We have achieved that enviable position through a longstanding policy of recruiting excellent people who are trained and enabled to maximise their potential within a strong team environment. Within this, the crucial “X” factor has always been our willingness to build on potential rather than always looking for the finished article – Jason Grey is a good example of this approach in practise”
This story is first and foremost a tribute to the resourcefulness and mindset of Jason Grey, a young man who had the optimism, initiative and self belief to go directly to his prospective employers and offer his services for hire. This approach will not work for every individual or every company, but it is a timely reminder to the community at large, and the business community in particular that there is a wealth of determined and talented people who are available and willing to offer their services for hire – the real challenge is learning how to find them.

Thursday, 9 May 2013


Headlining Endolines stand at Total 2013 is the latest case erector - designed specifically to handle SRPs, the 248, fully automatic case erector is a high speed, servo driven machine incorporating a gluing system to seal the bottom of each case as it is formed. The use of glue is essential with SRPs as tape interferes with the functionality of the cases at the retailer, but it also supports the higher running speeds made possible by the use of servos while significantly reducing the cost of consumables by eliminating the need for tape

Cleverly designed, the 248 incorporates Endolines signature dual opposing vacuum case opener and a top hopper which results in an extremely compact footprint enabling the 248 to be installed as an upgrade in space constrained packing halls as well as in state of the art new production sites.

Other items from the Endoline range will be on show, including a case packing module and a fully automatic random case sealer.

“A well know multinational food producer recently informed Endoline that it will be looking for an incremental increase in productivity in the order of 25% for its next generation production facilities” remarks Simon Taylor, Endolines Sales & Marketing Director “the innovative use of technology and close cooperation with customers, suppliers and board manufacturers has helped us to dramatically raise the bar in terms of achievable production speeds for packaging machines. Endoline is well placed to meet this challenge with its new generation machinery – we are very excited to be demonstrating these machines at Total this year”

As the recession lingers on, the demands on business are unrelenting. On the one hand, the need to improve efficiency and reduce costs, on the other the need to innovate in order to differentiate from the competition.

As a supplier of secondary packaging solutions to the food industry, Endoline is able to contribute on both counts with its high quality secondary packaging solutions. Innovation in this sector is driven significantly by the retailers, whose productivity is determined largely by the efficiency of its supply chain.  The prevailing trend by retailers to make widespread use of shelf ready packaging is easy to understand in terms of operational efficiency, and Endoline has worked with both food producers and board manufacturers to engineer innovative new products designed to work efficiently at high levels of productivity with SRPs.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Leaning towards a smarter way of working!

Lean Manufacturing – we’ve all coined the phrase and thrown it out there around the board room table while dissecting our businesses and looking to strengthen the bottom line – but do we really understand and adopt the principles behind the phrase?  The definition of lean manufacturing can be long and drawn out but, in a nutshell; it is the elimination of supply chain waste.  As this waste is removed quality improves while production time and costs are reduced.
In the manufacturing industry we hear it a lot – particularly from our customers who want the best machines on the market, those which won’t guzzle energy while working at a rate which mirrors the speed of sound! But as manufacturers, particularly those within the food industry, strive to improve competitiveness the elimination of waste throughout the supply chain and production cycle has become paramount. In particular the energy saving factor - and ultimately cost saving while producing higher product volumes - is factored into about 50% of machinery sales at my company Endoline. 
Although the manufacturing operations for food producers are responsible for a relatively small proportion of the energy used across the supply chain, it is an area where they can most easily make a significant impact through improved performance. Manufacturers need to look at new machines which automatically 'shut down' during product changeovers and waiting periods to save energy. Technical advancements, such as servo-drive systems, can further reduce energy consumption and help manufacturers make significant savings as these machines have the ability to not only reach higher speeds – so delivering the required output sooner – but they accelerate and decelerate during ‘downtime’ periods to keep electricity to a minimum.   We are all of aware of the dramatic uptake in automation over the last few years and while it is helping UK businesses become energy efficient, it can also help to reduce the volume of goods that are imported into the UK to meet consumer demand and through local manufacture British businesses can reduce their carbon footprint. 

But what about the rest of us? We all know that lean manufacturing and energy efficiency is high on our customer’s priority list but how can we introduce some of those principles to our own companies to strip out the waste in our supply chain – while retaining the value and, the best bit, make our bottom line look healthier!

My own team have embarked on their own ‘lean’ journey and the first stop was quality. However any change to this and you could risk both your product and your reputation. If you are supplied with poor quality material from your supplier base, things can take longer to make and ultimately impact on customer delivery dates which can cost your company more in significant overtime to meet these dates. Coming out of a recession, one of the fundamental changes is that every customer wants their machine faster. Previous lead times would be between 12-16 weeks but they are now routinely expecting eight weeks and if anything goes wrong, the only way to keep delivery dates is to put more people on the project. The key principles of the ‘lean’ journey have been applied to our business and the key learning has been to give ourselves more capacity – and don’t use overtime as your get out of jail free card! 

As machinery has becoming more and more expensive to manufacture you have to get this area of your business right to achieve the desired margin.  One key learning was to improve and streamline our partnerships within our supply chain from deliveries to the quality of materials being supplied, many now do line side replenishment, which takes half the time and prevents both over ordering and under supply. This did require a complete change of mindset, from both suppliers and also the team, to put in place standards and expectations that needed to be met but we are now reaping the benefits.

Finally empower the different departments within your business to identify different areas of waste and consider how these could be eliminated.  Lean is a state of mind and it affects every aspect of our business and every department. Some people think lean manufacturing just affects the shop floor but that’s ignorance. Its principles can be applied to any process in any area of the business.


Alan Yates, CEO and MD of Endoline Machinery

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Packaging Machinery Trends of the Future – As Told by One Who Looks at the Market, not a Technical Genius!

When asked to write about the future trends within the packaging machinery industry I began to think about the idea people, particularly those not from a technical background, must have of us machinery engineers – working away in our factories until we come up with the a genius invention which will set the industry alight! That is not to say that some of the most brilliant engineering concepts have not come from a moment of pure genius however this is very rare and manufacturing history tells us that many failed projects were developed without due care of what is now screamingly obvious – market research!  

Realistically we have to go through the torturous process of analysing the key market drivers augmented by extensive customer consultation and understand, even predict the trends in our industry.  

So what are the primary drivers in the Packaging machinery market?  I could go and ramble on over this topic but - to keep within the boundaries of this article – I will focus on five key areas; the often unstable economic climate, the regulatory and political environment, the availability of suitably skilled staff, globalisation invoking international competition and the relentless growth of the environmental lobby and associated issues relating to waste, CO2 emissions and energy consumption. I wouldn’t be unreasonable in saying that each of these drivers are linked. The pressure, for example, to increase efficiency and reduce waste has led to a renaissance in Lean Engineering* techniques whilst shortages of skilled staff have been addressed in part through the adoption of robotics.  Automation and robotics have, in turn, also reduced waste and the arguments for going to automated systems are identical to those supporting the principles of lean engineering!  These cyclic arguments have led to a number of somewhat predictable trends in machinery design.    

There aren’t many companies, my own included, who didn’t feel the effects of the recession.  The companies who weathered the economic storm the best however either had an innovative product to sell or began rubbing shoulders with companies on international shores - namely the so-called, BRIC nations China, India, Russia and Brazil – economies with low overheads. When the West was suffering with GDP figures as bad as minus 4%, China was still enjoying growth of over plus 6%.  It was not enough, however, to simply sell the basic machinery products in these regions.  Domestically produced goods in China are now more than 'fit-for-purpose' at the bottom end of the market and the Asian market is now seeking high-end technologically advanced products. Despite the availability of relatively low cost labour, even the Asian economies are actually adopting automation and robotic technology faster than the UK.  They recognise that our use of this technology effectively nullifies their competitive advantage by removing the 'human touch’ – ensuring a trend towards high end, automated products designed to compete with or even meet the needs of overseas markets.

The food market emerged relatively unscathed - there is a very clear trend towards machinery that is designed to meet both the stringent 'Cleaning in Place' (CIP) requirements of this industry and the sometimes less rational consumer-driven demands placed upon the cosmetics of the final product. Here again we are seeing a rise in demand for automation and robotics from China – where the food industry is worth over half a billion dollars a year. Consumers are also demanding products in more environmentally friendly packaging made from biodegradable materials whilst the growth in single consumers has increased the demand for re-closable containers.  All of these factors are placing demands upon machinery designers. 

Switching to automation as an argument for environmental savings is also strong. Consistent product quality leads to less waste with almost zero QA rejection whilst twenty four hour 'lights-out' operation at lower temperatures, impossible working conditions for human operators, and massively increased throughput leads to significant energy savings.  Additionally, the reduced product handling has almost removed the introduction of pathogens onto organic materials and has significantly increased product shelf-life.  Reflected within machinery designs is also the need to meet regulatory standards - with a significant emphasis upon Health and Safety and the need for appropriate accreditation to international machinery production standards. 

So to sum up the emphasis needs to be on highly differentiated, technologically advanced machines able to compete effectively in a global market.  Automation and Robotics addresses the primary market drivers on a number of levels including quality, consistency, throughput, environmental issues, labour relations, productivity and regulatory compliance.  There is greater use of Servo systems and re-usable components whilst the almost obsessive pre-occupation with Health & Safety has driven us to produce machines offering almost zero risk to operators.