Düsseldorf, Germany — At K 2016, Michael Mehnert had just joined the upper management ranks of Bekum Maschinenfabriken GmbH, an extrusion blow molding technology business started by his father, Gottfried Mehnert, in 1959.
He was 34 at the time and faced a lot of questions about what his leadership would mean for the Berlin-based company, focused on packaging for the food and beverage, consumer goods and pharmaceutical markets.
"There was talk about the shift of generations," Michael Mehnert said. "I said change would come in incremental steps. It may be in design. It may be in software. Of course, we did that and more."
Three years later, Bekum launched and sold a sleek, new machine dubbed the Concept 808 just before the company's 60th anniversary booth celebration.
Nobody is comparing the cladding of this eighth-generation blow molder to a school bus like its predecessors. The Concept 808 makes selective use of the company's eye-catching yellow color at the top and base but has wide polycarbonate windows to show off the inner workings.
The modern exterior houses numerous technical improvements to produce containers from 250 milliliters to 3 liters for consumer packaging, such as laundry detergent, personal care products and automotive lubricants.
First, there's an optional magnetic quick mold-change system that makes it possible to swap out molds and adjust the blow pins in 30 minutes, or about 15 minutes per clamp. This is an important feature for processors that often do production changes, said Gary Carr, vice president of sales for Bekum America.
"A mold change for a machine of this size with a standard quick-change system would probably take two to four hours," Carr said. "This is a really significant development."
The Concept 808 also has a new extruder option — HiPEx36D — that provides a homogenous high melt while reducing energy use by 20 percent.
"The key development here allows us to do a more gentle melt of the polymer over a longer time, and by doing that, you use less torque, which uses less power," Carr said. "It's a great innovation. I think the market will be very interested."