“Our suppliers are crucial in our production processes and we put all our efforts in selecting them,” says Harry van der Eerden, manager PC Conveyors at system integrator Marel. “In these times purchases based on price alone aren't acceptable anymore. We want to share and develop identical views about strategy and cooperation with our suppliers.”
Marel is a producer of high-quality systems and equipment for the food processing industry with a focus on the poultry, fish and meat sectors. Its wide product range includes solutions for supply, primary processing, cooling, portioning, deboning and cutting up at high speed, (fixed weight) batching, further processing, weighing/labelling/packing, production control software and a variety of service contracts. Mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and food technology all come together in this company. Van der Eerden: “Being a system integrator, we relieve our customers of any unnecessary worry, from the slaughter process to the finished product. Keeping a strong focus on innovative technologies and service, we offer solutions for each capacity and step in the process. Our maintenance programs enable our customers to maximize their throughput while lowering the cost of each product.”
Serving customers on all continents, Marel is a major player in the food processing industry. “The heart of our success is our extensive knowledge of food processing and the world of proteins. At Marel, it's all about technology and innovation; all our solutions respect people, animals and planet. Animal welfare and sustainability are key in this regard.” Marel employs 4,600 people worldwide, has establishments on six continents and includes an international network of approximately 100 agents and distributors.
“Over the course of its rich history of acquisitions and strong autonomous growth, Marel has acquired an impressive knowledge library. This enables us to offer a solution for almost every problem or issue in our business. In January 2016, we merged our individual brands into one strong brand with a clear vision and clearly defined values. This makes Marel a stronger partner for customers all over the world,” Van der Eerden emphasizes.
This merging operation also comprises the centralization of the conveyor belts and the logistics systems within Marel. “We intend to organize processes and production to accommodate this centralization, from engineering, manufacturing and service up to sales.” When selecting suppliers Van der Eerden gathers information, acting as a scout, on the character of each supplier, both strategically and operationally. “We perform a quick scan of the company. How does the company operate? What is the vision for today and for the future? How does management view the market? What are the driving forces in the organization? Those are the kind of questions we ask.” This provided the basis for the cooperation with Habasit. “A synergy has grown between the two companies because Habasit, just like Marel, wants to grow in the world of food and protein. The company has independently and strategically looked at the market. Habasit does what it's supposed to do and that's important to us. Furthermore, Habasit has, in turn, selected Marel as a partner to intensively cooperate with.”
Marel and Habasit have the same fighting spirit, underlines Van der Eerden, “We want to conquer the market and invest heavily in it. Habasit wants to do the same. The company is fully committed to its customers and wants to develop solutions according to market demand. For example, maintaining or extending the shelf life of the product is one of our priorities. Habasit has adopted that vision and applied it to the hygienic properties of its conveyor belts.” Van der Eerden observes a clear commitment within Habasit. “When answering our questions, Habasit employees throughout the organization immediately know what we mean. We carry out research together and share knowledge with each other. We wish to pursue a dialogue at management level, which is why we sit around the table with each other once a year and share our visions.”
Van der Eerden is convinced that, in the coming years, health and sustainability will increasingly be emphasized. “For the benefit of both humans, for example by minimizing CO2 emissions, and animals, particularly regarding welfare, we will take care respecting cultural and religious considerations. We are aware that we are working with animals – and, together with our suppliers, – we want to contribute to food security for the growing world population. This creates a family relationship with our customers and, consequently, long term relationships.” What appeals to Van der Eerden is that Habasit is a family company. “Everything goes to show that people at Habasit are all on the same page, work with the same emotion and passion and are focused on a healthy future. That is exactly the same at Marel. We have a real connection on a personal and business level and we get along really well.”
Cooperation and networking are high on the agenda of Marel. “We closely work together with various academic institutions, such as universities in Canada and Brazil. We organize readings and workshops to raise awareness about food processing. We already notice that industrial processes are improving and animals are becoming increasingly healthy. This is a great progression, leading to a serious improvement of animal welfare.” Marel is seeking to increasingly highlight the topic of food processing. “We have several DemoCenters to organize theme events concerning fresh products. Together with several companies of different disciplines, we present new technological system solutions. Sharing knowledge will benefit us all.” (JB)