The Weidenhammer Packaging Group (WPG), Europe’s market leader in the field of durable, attractively-labeled consumer packaging, plans to invest more than €30 million in the expansion of its European plants and facilities this year. About a third of this amount will be spent on modernizing buildings, while the remaining two-thirds will be used to renew and upgrade machinery and production lines.
Premium packaging solutions for dry and fresh foods are a hallmark of the Weidenhammer Packaging Group. This high quality can only be attained through the use of modern production machinery and assembly lines. With this in mind, Weidenhammer is currently focusing special attention on its production facilities. "We constantly invest in our factories and machinery, for instance, in the expansion of our production facilities and the ongoing improvement of our hygiene standards," says Ralf Weidenhammer, the CEO of the Weidenhammer Packaging Group. "It’s the only way we can maintain our position as the market and technology leader."
In late September staff at company headquarters in Hockenheim celebrated the complete reconstruction of one of WPG’s two composite can production facilities. This now has seven state-of-the-art production lines for manufacturing a total of ten composite can formats as well as four lines for making composite drums. A production line installed at the Lübeck facility will be used to manufacture composite cans with the new peel-off top. This move will further expand the potential for composite cans, and could in the future open the door to the market for perishable foods such as milk powder. A large share of the investment – €10 million – will go to the group’s plastics division, Weidenhammer Plastic Packaging, which plans to further expand production capacity at its Zwenkau site in the coming years. This endeavor is supported by financial aid from the European Fund for Regional Development (EFRD) and the state of Saxony. Production space at the Zwenkau plant was expanded in summer 2010 from 4,000 to a total of 9,000 square meters.
Substantial investments in quality and sustainability
WPG is also making significant investments in its other European locations. Following nine months of construction work, production at the group’s Inofita plant near Athens, Greece was relaunched in early May. The group invested around €6.5 million in the construction and expansion of production facilities at the site. Production space has been tripled to 4,000 square meters. WPG hopes the modernized plant and the expansion of the production lines will drive further growth in southeastern Europe. Construction is also about to begin at the group’s UK facility in Bradford, England. Relocation to the 10,000 square meter composite can production plant is scheduled for mid-2011.
WPG is also expanding its composite can business in Switzerland and Russia. In mid-2009 the group took over composite can operations from Greiner Packaging AG in the Swiss town of Diepoldsau. Following extensive modernization of the lines, production was successfully integrated into the company’s plants in Germany and France. About a year ago, Weidenhammer opened its first Russian composite can production facility in Vladimir near Moscow. This plant is operated as a joint venture with Greiner Packaging Russia.
As part of its investment program, the Weidenhammer Group is continually reducing its environmental impact. For instance, wherever possible, the plans for all new or modernized WPG facilities include the installation of photovoltaic panels. Solar power systems have already been installed on new buildings in Hockenheim and Zwenkau. Greece and England will follow in 2011.