What are you currently concerned about in your intralogistics?
Mr Herder: Bähren Pharma-Packaging is a third-generation supplier of special products for the pharmaceutical industry. We produce secondary packaging materials, e.g. adhesive labels and package inserts for prescription drugs. Research-based international pharmaceutical companies are one of our main customers, for whom we are also a development partner. This currently means high speed, especially in the development cycles for new products, which are becoming shorter and shorter. So shorter delivery times and just-in-time delivery of smaller batches also apply to us. Although digital processes are playing an increasingly important role in internal processes, as a family business we rely on sustainable, clever, "analogue" process improvements, which are particularly important for the highest quality standards required.
Can you give us an example of this?
Mr Herder: One example is the changeover from large cardboard containers to sustainable, collapsible sleeve packs. On the one hand, these are used for transporting the light cardboard trays to production, which are set up externally in advance. On the other hand, another more stable version with a lid and hinges is used as an internal transport box for collecting pre-produced products coming from different machines.
Previously, large cardboard pallet containers were used for both, but they could not be stacked properly and quickly became dirty and broken. The significant purchase costs (of approx. 10 EUR), combined with the short service life and the disposal costs, represented a large cost factor, in addition to the high risk of contamination of the products and the lack of sustainability.
What is special in your production, or what has to be taken into account in the internal processes?
Mr Herder: When producing package inserts and adhesive labels for medicines, Bähren Pharma-Packaging has to pay particular attention to the following: the pharmaceutical companies receive their package inserts in small folds so that they fit directly into the folding boxes. For this purpose, they are packed in cardboard trays, small cartons.
These cardboard trays are set up beforehand so that the employees at the folding machines do not have to spend time on them first. For reasons of space, this is not done directly next to the machines, but manually in directly adjacent integrative workshops of the Protestant Foundation Hephata. Approximately 250 Tripboxes from Smart-Flow are used for the delivery of the large folding templates and the return delivery of the trays. The blanks are securely stowed with intermediate layer pads for return transport to production.
The large load carriers from Smart-Flow used for this purpose can be folded and set up again quickly and easily and guarantee space-saving delivery, easy filling and safe transport. For internal production, the somewhat more stable second variant, the Smart Sleeve Pack with lid and hinges, is used for the semi-finished goods, which are then taken to the next processing step. These two large load carriers from Smart-Flow convinced us with their numerous advantages: they are stably stackable, lightweight and allow clean handling of the cardboard trays. Especially with products for the pharmaceutical industry, cleanliness and integrity of the packaging play a major role and in our internal processes they score points with their easy handling, the avoidance of waste and the permanent cost-efficient operation.
Why did you decide on the Smart-Flow solution in particular?
Mr Herder: In our search for a clever solution, we tested three different large plastic load carriers. The Smart Sleeve Pack from Smart-Flow was significantly lighter than the other two and convinced us all along the line due to its special stability and easy handling. In general, we also find it pleasant to work with service providers of our size and family businesses on an equal footing and have had good experiences with regard to fast response times and practicable solutions. For example, we now also use plastic pallets from Smart-Flow for the delivery of our goods to customers.
To what extent do sustainability aspects play a role in your internal process optimisations?
Mr Herder: Sustainability is without question very important and includes a wide variety of components for us. On the one hand, there is a financial advantage: by avoiding waste and using reusable systems, we can save a lot of money.
And as a family business, the environment is very important to us and so, for example, we have switched completely to green electricity. We also pay attention to the constant minimisation of raw materials as well as energy optimisation, for example, through air-heat pumps (e.g. the waste heat from the UV system is used). And so we also see these environmental aspects as a signal internally and to our customers that Bähren Pharma-Packaging and our shareholders Walter and Ursula Bähren feel responsible for our location.