Monday, 24 July 2017

 

On the occasion of interpack, packaging and processing solutions provider tna celebrated its 35th anniversary. Below is an exclusive interview with the company’s co-founder Alf Taylor, about tna’s evolution and changes in the industry that occurred during the last 35 years.

By Dan Orehov

How has the industry changed in the past 35 years since tna has entered the market?

Alf Taylor: One of the main things that has changed over the last 35 years is the sheer proliferation of products that are now available on the market. Back when we started tna, there were only a couple of big players in the snack industry and the choice of snacks was a lot more limited. Nowadays, there is so much creativity in the market. You still have the big players, but there are also a lot of smaller companies out there and they’re bringing some really good innovations on the market that are changing the way people think about snacking.

This also means that new products are developed, manufactured and introduced to the retail market much more quickly than ever before. Everything has become a lot faster, including the equipment used to package them. 35 years ago, bagging speeds were stalled at around 60 bags per minute and now we’re looking at machines that are capable of well over 200 bags per minute. It’s quite an achievement and we’re immensely proud that we were part of this change.

Another significant change we witnessed over the years is a move towards line integration. Before we started offering fully integrated systems, it was very common that each piece of line equipment was manufactured and installed by a different company. Back then, everyone focused only on the performance of their own equipment, no one really considered the whole line.

If you were to pinpoint one particular highlight for tna in each decade, what would you choose?

One of our highlights right at the start has got to be when we received our first big order. A local Australian snack manufacturer was so impressed with our prototype that they placed an order for another 34 machines. That was definitely a turning point for us.

After a successful launch in Australia, the next decade was all about global expansion for us with the opening of offices in Europe (Birmingham) in 1991 and the US (Dallas) in 1995. These were major milestones and the start of a process that is still ongoing to this date. We now have 30 offices around world and more to come.

Winning a patent infringement suit against one of our main competitors in the early 2000s was definitely another key moment in tna’s history. It was an extremely stressful time for us and almost cost us our dream. Winning the case in the end was such a relief and meant we were able to continue on our journey to innovate to where we now have over 880 innovative global patents.

2010 onwards will be all about further product expansion into processing.

Please name three challenges your customers are currently facing and the advantages you are providing your clients with.

The snack market is growing at an incredible pace at the moment and manufacturers need equipment that can get their products onto the shelves as quickly as possible. In particular, the desire for small bags of healthier snacks will increase the need for faster production lines as manufacturers need to package the same amount of product in more bags to retain their production volumes.

Healthy snacking and consumer demand for greater transparency will also drive equipment innovation in the processing category as more manufacturers will be looking for equipment that can produce healthier, more natural snacks, while allowing them to maximize the use of raw materials.  

You can read more in our print magazine Potato Processing International (May/June 2017)!

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