With Shikoku and Elopak, we invest in the future

Anders Segerström, CEO of Falköpings Mejeri ekonomisk förening spoke to Elotalk about recent investments in Shikoku Flex machines, and the launch of new cartons for its premium products.

“We have seen the evolution in the Shikoku machines from Elopak, which keep delivering more and more outstanding efficiency and reliability,” explains Anders. “From the day we installed our first Shikoku Flex machine, we have been driven to change all our machines to Elopak. In the near future, we will have 12 Shikoku Flex lines.” The installation of the new machine was a significant investment for Falköpings Mejeri. It involved rebuilding parts of its factory in Falköping to enable space for two new lines of the Rectangular Shikoku Flex machines. With the second machine for the new line due for installation in October, Falköpings Mejeri will expand its number of the Rectangular Shikoku Flex machines to four, enabling more product innovation and flexibility.

“The investment has allowed us to enter the ESL segment and launch new products including lactose-free and sour milk, and to extend our ranges with the larger 1.5 Pure-Pak® cartons,” said Anders. “We can now run both ESL and fresh milk products, with a cap applicator, and still have improved run ability and better hygiene.”

Anders explains, “With Elopak and Shikoku, we have more flexibility to offer the customer what they want, be it branded or private label products.” Newly launched in May 2020 is a range of new lactose-free milk drink in 1.5 liter Pure-Pak® cartons under the brands Falköpings Dairy and Grådö Dairy. The six new varieties are the first lactose-free products in the larger cartons to be filled in the Rectangular Shikoku Flex machine lines. “We now have the ability to both increase efficiency and diversify our product ranges,” adds Anders. Recent new launches have also included fermented milk and ESL products in the larger 1.5 liter Pure-Pak® cartons.

“We fill huge volumes on the four rectangular Flex machines. So, it is very important that we can rely on the machine’s efficiency and reliability,” adds Anders. “Not having too many breakdowns is crucial, and it is our experience that compared with other machines, the new Shikoku Flex machines bring a huge improvement.”

Anders lists the three top benefits of the Flex machines: run ability, hygiene and user interface. “The digital user interface displays allow you to be in control; to be on top of it,” explains Anders. “Before you needed to be a technician to operate the machine, now you can adjust it digitally from the panel – so we can fill more products, without the need for tools and technical adjustments. Now, the autonomy of the machine allows for repeatability and precision.” The number of operators needed to run the machine is a key criterion in Falköping’s investment decisions. “It is a fact that now one operator can run three machines at the same time,” continues Anders. The new Flex machines have a very hygienic design, with clear separate sections and hygiene zones. “Comparing the Shikoku Flex to older versions, we can clearly see that it performs much better: we have increased safety levels and lower bacteria levels.”

This is the latest project in the partnership between Elopak and Falköpings Mejeri, which has been established for nearly two decades. Today the Elopak Technical Services supports the installation and management of the Shikoku Flex machines with a team of local technical service engineers. “We have very good cooperation with Elopak’s technical organization, who do a great job with the new machine set up. It is much more interesting for all of us to work on the latest technology.” With this ‘latest technology,’ Falköpings Mejeri continues to innovate into the future. “In this partnership, together we approached the retailers in Sweden with the concept of cartons made from 100% wood, and renewable materials” explains Jörgen Björnson Elopak Sweden.”Now, as we are planning the installation of an additional Shikoku Flex machine, Falköpings Mejeri can bring its future plans to reality and provide the Swedish market with more convenient, functional and sustainable packaging.” As Anders concludes: “With these latest Shikoku Flex machines, together with our established Elopak lines, we are investing in flexibility and high efficiency, but we are also investing in the future.”