JASA is a specialist in manufacturing horizontal and vertical packaging machines at the Assembly Department, former coordinating foreman Wilbert Wittebrood (44) was responsible for all machines. Due to the enormous success of the JASA Sleever, the hustle and bustle increased, and the department was split up. Nowadays, Wilbert is in charge of the horizontal packaging machines.
What kind of work is done at the Assembly Department?
The Assembly Department is in charge of constructing the packaging machines, both the horizontal and vertical machines. "For twelve years, I was responsible for both types of machines, but due to the great success of the JASA Sleever, we outgrew the production capacity. That's the reason we split up the department into horizontal and vertical production lines". The immense growth started after Fruit Logistica 2019. At the expo, JASA introduced the JASA Sleever for apples; this resulted in a huge success, which in turn lead to a massive amount of applications for our horizontal machines. "Currently, 'horizontal' is my responsibility, so I can focus on these machines and put all my knowledge into it.”
In total, the Assembly team consists of twenty people: ten for the vertical machines and ten for the horizontal machines. "We've divided it equally; still, we keep it dynamic. For example, when I have additional workload on the horizontal machines, I get twelve crew assigned to me and vice versa. The crew likes that too; this way, they have extra variety in the workshop". In addition to the JASA crew, we, at times, have the men from SPIE joining us to assist JASA during these busy times. "It's a mixed team, in which the atmosphere is very pleasant. Everyone fits comfortably in place, a significant factor as that is how you keep people happy."
The division of tasks
Not all crew have the same functions and duties. "We employ three electricians who build the electrical panels and connect the machines. Next, we have the mechanics who build the machines and the individual modules. We really consider what each person likes to do and take that into account. Some people like to be involved with the delivery of the machine while others enjoy building up a module." Wilbert is there to support his colleagues. He puts them to work, fixes parts that are delivered incorrectly, and takes care of the time administration. "I also truly enjoy having two trainees, Jimmy and Robin, under my care. I show them a part of a machine, explain what it does, and then let them build it. They love being able to do that on their own. It is fantastic to see them grow!"
Changes over the years
When Wilbert joined JASA in 1998, the company was a different one from what is today. "back in those days, we only had one production hall, nowadays we have two. At that time, we also made all parts ourselves, whereas today, we have exclusive distribution rights for parts. We also started to work more efficiently. We used to build the modules for each machine, now we build ten modules at once. We became much more professional over the years".
Changing customer requirements
Not only have things changed in the department, but the customer's wishes have also changed over the years. "Customers pay more and more attention to safety. Not surprisingly so of course, operators must be able to safely operate the machine. Also, nowadays, packaging machines must be versatile, featuring fast changeover times, able to fastpacking and pack different products; for example, today’s packaging machines must be able to handle potatoes as well as sliced vegetables". The packaging industry listened to these customer wishes, making packaging machines safer and more versatile. "To meet customer requirements, we also made improvements in our department. Our communication is now more explicit, using short communication lines while we record everything digitally ".
Work more efficiently, raise quality to an even higher level, and continue to meet customer requirements. These are the spearheads of the Assembly Department. "when we work efficiently, we can further reduce the number of working hours per machine, which ultimately benefits the customer. With this aim in mind, we continuously look at our processes and how they can be improved. And, of course, it is essential to us that the machines meet the customer's wishes. Should the machine be even more adjustable? We’ll take care of it. Does the customer want improved ease of use? Sure, we’ll handle it."
Focus on the future
Over the years, a lot has changed in the Assembly Department, and there will still be plenty of innovations to come. "We started out packaging apples, and nowadays we also have customers with kiwis, tomatoes, meat and meat substitutes. Every customer and every packaging require something different. That is just how we like it, and what keeps us sharp. For example, recently, we had to find a solution to pack plastic trays with a handle. Bringing nice new challenges with it. There are all sorts of requests coming our way." Now with JASA also having a well-established branch in America, new questions are also coming from the other side of the ocean. The American market demands larger packaging. Not six apples in a package, but eight. "I really like these developments. It is what keeps our work in the Assembly Department varied and challenging".
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