Rheinische Pilz-Zentrale GmbH has recently started using Reisopack 2905, the latest strapping system from Steenks. After a good decade, the mushroom cultivation and trading company decided to replace its predecessor model, the Reisopack 2901, for several reasons. In an interview, Rainer Hoegen (r), Head of Warehouse, Packaging, and Order Picking at the company, takes stock of the new installation.
In addition, to wear and tear after years of intensive use, multiple strapping as such no longer functioned in line with the times, Hoegen says in retrospect. "There were several times in the past when we had extended downtimes, which is why we were on the lookout for a new system. The basic approach of the latest Reisopack, i.e., the unique and advanced complete strapping, made us decide to go for this line."
The quantity of edge protectors to be fed is twice as large in the new system as in the old one. Hoegen: "In the old system, the edge protection was also brought forward via articulated arms, which was extremely unstable and vulnerable. This also meant that we ultimately had to bring the edge protection to the pallets manually. The new process, on the other hand, works as a multi-rail system anchored in the floor, which is much more stable and robust in practice."
Equipped for the future
At RPZ, the process is only used for strapping pallets filled with cardboard boxes. This corresponds to a total of about 40 percent of the total goods handled, Hoegen calculates. "Compared to IFCO/EPS returnable crates, which are most commonly used for cultivated mushrooms, cardboard boxes are extremely wobbly. The advantage of the new Reisopack system is that the guide arm uses a photocell to see exactly where the corners are and compresses the pallet accordingly in advance. In this respect, the new system is much more intelligent and sophisticated."
Currently, about 35 to 40 pallets a day are encompassed by the new system. The rest runs through a second, older machine. "For us, this is absolutely sufficient, as the highest proportion is still packed in returnable crates. I am convinced, also in view of the capacity and advanced technology, that we are equipped for the future with this system."
According to Hoegen, this also depends on the development of the market and the specified packaging requirements. "Of course, we cannot currently estimate what the demand for cardboard will be in the future. The market is already tending in the direction of paperboard, but the decisive factor is what the logistical handling looks like. The limiting factor is that cardboard absorbs moisture, which is a difficult issue, especially with mushrooms. We are the last to know about this and simply have to wait and see how the requirements and specifications for food retail packaging develop."
Use of AI and robotics
Meanwhile, he said, RPN preparation and packaging has been largely automated. "The use of AI and robotics has developed rapidly in a very short time, and there's a lot more to come. We in packaging are, of course, directly linked to breeding and harvesting, so we are also dependent on developments in these areas. In breeding and harvesting, there will be quite a bit of movement in the coming months, not least because the personnel problem in this area is much greater," concludes Hoegen.
For more information:
Leitung Lager, Verpackung, Kommissionierung
RPZ Rheinische Pilz - Zentrale GmbH