Wisconsin students visit Germany's 'Packaging Valley'

4 Min Read
Wisconsin students visit Germany's 'Packaging Valley'

At the Interpack 2011, Packaging Valley caught the attention of Prof. Robert Meisner from Stout University in Menomonie, WI.  The unique concentration of packaging machine builders around the towns of Schwaebisch Hall and Crailsheim impressed him.  In cooperation with Packaging Valley Germany e.V., an excursion with 9 students from the sector of packaging technology was organized. For three days, th297646-Stout.jpg


e group of aspiring university graduates had the opportunity to see the operations of the region's leading companies. 

Skilled workers and engineers are the backbone of the Germany's economy. The companies of Packaging Valley serve a nearly 80 percent  international clientele. This background explains why aspiring experts from Germany and abroad are particularly welcome. Company tours in Sulzbach-Laufen, Crailsheim and Schwaebisch Hall revealed the machine builders' technical diversity and innovative power. 

The tour took off at the Haus der Wirtschaft (House of the Economy) in Schwaebisch Hall, where Kurt Engel, Chairman of Packaging Valley, and Andreas Prauß, spokesman of the Recruiting Workshop and manager of ITQ's branch in Schwaebisch Hall, welcomed the guests. The intro provided information on the development of the former military site Camp Dolan and its conversion into an ambitious industrial zone, the Solpark. ITQ has demonstrated its particularly innovative force on the IT and mechatronics sector with focus on packaging machinery building.

Bernd Hansen, Chairman of Packaging Valley and managing director of Kocher-Plastik Maschinenbau, presented his company, the Hansen Group. He told the story of how the single-man company of his father, Gerhard Hansen, became a well-sized consortium with a workforce of presently 1,400 employees. In a tour through the design department and assembly halls, business manager Martin Schneider impressed the guests by the company's sophisticated technology and extraordinary production depth. The company's main focus is on the so-called blow-fill-seal procedure primarily applied for filling pharmaceutical products.

In Crailsheim, managing director Reinald Weiss opened the gates for the guests to his fast growing company. Outsiders rarely get an opportunity to inspect such assembly halls, as customers often do not want anyone to see their custom-built machinery before taking up operation. Bleichert, subsidiary of R.Weiss, with head office in Osterburken, was another company introduced to the students. The company increasingly becomes a supplier to the packaging machine sector. 

Cody Uhrhammer, sales manager von Optima in Green Bay, USA welcomed the students at Optima in Schwaebisch Hall and guided them through the company. A graduate from Stout University himself, he was particularly able to attune to his visitors' needs and provided answers to many questions. Optima Pharma and Optima Consumer at Solpark confirmed why they belong to the industry's world market leaders: Up to the last square meter, the space in the company's assembly halls was occupied with filling and packaging machines under construction. The vision depicted on the large sign at the construction site, titled Optima 2022, shows were the company wants to be in 10 years. A visit at the plant located in the industrial zone west of Schwaebisch Hall included demonstrations of further machine types from the nonwovens sector for packaging diapers, sanitary pads, toilet paper and other paper hygiene products. A closing Q & A session with Optima experts after the tour made clear that the impressive precision and top performance of the German machines in particular had caused quite some furor. 

Visits to the old town center of Schwaebisch Hall, the Open Air Museum in Wackershofen and the Johanniter Church made obvious that culture, people and landscape form an integral link within Packaging Valley. The visit ended with impressions of the folklore festival during the Pentecost weekend and a promise by Professor Robert Meisner and the students to soon meet again at the stand of Packaging Valley at Pack Expo in Chicago in October 2012. The subsequent touristic program included a trip to Rothenburg/Tauber and to Heidelberg, where the visitors also went to see the German Packaging Museum. 

University of Wisconsin - Stout was founded in 1891 in Menomonie, Wisconsin.  For more information about 'Packaging Valley,' visit  wwww.packaging-valley.com

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