Profile: Thomas Karell, 54, has been the managing director of KHS Corpoplast GmbH since the fall of 2011. Before joining KHS Corpoplast GmbH, he acted in a managing capacity for various leading industrial companies for many years. He has been working in mechanical engineering for the beverage industry for 20 years. In this interview he talks about the goals of the expansion at the KHS Corpoplast GmbH and KHS Plasmax GmbH site, the added value for customers, and the future of the PET market.
Background: KHS Group's new assembly shop at the plant in Hamburg is now completed. An additional capacity of 2,500 square meters is now available to the KHS Corpoplast GmbH and KHS Plasmax GmbH companies based there. The manufacturer of filling and packaging systems has thus responded to the growing number of orders and is optimizing its production processes and delivery times by expanding its facilities.
Mr. Karell, after the groundbreaking in October 2015, the new assembly shop is now ready for operation. Tell us about everything that has happened there.
Within the course of our growth strategy, we have expanded for the second time in Hamburg since 2012. Commissioning and acceptance testing for stretch blow molders, blow molder/filler blocks, and PET coating machines made by the KHS Group are contained in the new hall. The expansion has increased the floor space by 2,500 square meters to 18,200 square meters — the total area at the plant is now 54,000 square meters. We have invested a total of about three and a half million euros in this expansion.
What has the expansion improved specifically?
Our production capacity has increased by 25%. We are now able to complete up to 20 machines at once and achieve better market coverage through the increased order volume. Based on one consistent overall concept, we have simultaneously optimized the procurement, logistics, and assembly processes and now have shorter lead times. More extensive capacity is available to KHS Corpoplast GmbH and KHS Plasmax GmbH to develop and test innovations for PET packaging. This enables us to boost our growth even further.
What added value will be apparent to customers?
Because we are now able to manufacture and test more machines simultaneously, we can respond even better to user requests. Faster and more comprehensive format tests are just one example. For users, this results in time savings on site, as the systems are brought up to full capacity more quickly thanks to preceding extensive testing.
Considerable investments have been made in Hamburg in recent years. What is your assessment of the development of the Hamburg site?
We have recorded growth of about 60% for KHS Corpoplast GmbH during the last five years. In the first step of the current expansion we have again hired 15 new employees. If business develops as positively as predicted, we intend to look for more professionals in the areas of design, development, process engineering, and product sales. We are thus working very successfully and efficiently.
So PET is and will remain a successful business model? What are the demands of the market currently and what are your personal growth goals?
The market for PET bottles continues to grow. According to the market research institute Euromonitor, worldwide growth of 4.4% annually throughout the entire PET beverage industry is expected until 2019. The lighter, the better is the important thing here. This is why we offer many systems and solutions that pertain to the subject of lightweighting. At the same time, however, users also focus on sustainability. Lower use of energy and resources are the main demands. Since both very lightweight and recyclable bottles for sensitive beverages are possible with our efficient systems, our goal is to grow faster than the market level.