March 2, 2020
2019/2020 Annual Report of the OPTIMA Group
All eyes are on Interpack 2020
OPTIMA is presenting a variety of highly flexible packaging technology at the world's leading trade show for the packaging industryOPTIMA packaging group GmbH based in Schwaebisch Hall (Germany) has closed out 2019 with a total turnover of more than 400 million euros. Optima generated more than 85 percent of its sales abroad. 2,450 employees work for Optima around the globe. Since March 2019, the Optima Group has a new subsidiary – Rianta Packaging Systems. The inauguration of the CSPE Center and the logistics center last year set out Optima's strategy for the future. For the internationally positioned company, 2020 is all about Interpack, the world's leading trade show for the packaging industry.
Optima has achieved a turnover of more than 400 million euros in the past year. “Given the difficult economic conditions at present, we are very satisfied with this result,” says Hans Buehler, Managing Director of the Optima Group. Global trade conflicts, the slowdown in worldwide economic growth and companies' cautious investment plans have also had an impact on Optima's income, but only to a limited extent. More importance is attached to the essential new consolidation of the paper hygiene market. Major global players are restructuring and have postponed investments temporarily. “Optima is a broad-based company, so it has been able to successfully offset the lower utilization of capacity in the nonwovens business segment by redistributing capacity within the company," says Hans Buehler. Buehler explains, “rapid market changes like these are to be expected much more frequently, as we can see that end-consumer demand is changing more and more quickly”. After a sustained boom over the past five years, it is normal for sales in individual sectors to fall temporarily. In 2020, Optima Nonwovens will follow a similar pattern. He is anticipating a recovery in the paper hygiene market in 2021.
Numerous construction projects successfully completed
The Optima Group's investment program structured over several years continued in 2019. The new CSPE Center was completed at the end of June – a building covering 4,600 m² and of great importance strategically. It means that complete multi-storey systems consisting of a filling and closing machine and an isolator can be accommodated. Optima Pharma brings these together in Schwaebisch Hall, and makes it possible for clients to inspect the system on site. This saves precious time for commissioning at the customer's site right up to the start of production.
The official inauguration of the 6,000 m² Optima logistics center followed in July. Optima has invested around 20 million euros in the new building, and it was completed in a record time of ten months.
Finally, at the end of September, Hans Buehler and Joachim Dittrich, the Chairman of the Optima Consumer Division, congratulated the Maier Packaging staff on their new building in Bergen at Lake Chiemsee. The new building provides state-of-the-art working conditions, room for growth and great transport connections. Maier Packaging is currently a leader in the field of special solutions for production and packaging plants in the dairy industry.
New subsidiary company is bolstering the family firm
In 2018, there were over 2,400 employees, but by the end of 2019 the special-purpose machine manufacturer was employing 2,450 people. The majority of the company’s staff are employed at its headquarters in Schwaebisch Hall. In 2018, the number of people working there rose to in excess of 1,750, and in Germany, over 2,050 members of staff are contributing to Optima’s success. 23 experts in bag packaging machines joined the Optima Group when the successful Schwaebisch Hall-based company Rianta Packaging Systems, previously known as PS mako, was incorporated in March 2019. The company with Rainer Feuchter as its Managing Director focuses on international markets for bread, food, luxury foods and consumer goods.
Since July 2016, R+E Automation Technology has joined the Optima Group. In July 2019, the company was renamed Optima Automation. “With the change of name, this also formally expresses the progressive incorporation of R+E Automation into the Optima Group,” says Michael Becher, the company's Managing Director, justifying the name change. Optima Automation extends the portfolio of the Optima Group particularly in the area of assembly systems, and gives the group's customers even more flexibility in their custom configuration of filling and packaging systems.
On November 18, 2019, Dr. Christian Heuer was appointed as the Managing Director of Metall+Plastic. The company with over 120 employees headquartered in Radolfzell-Stahringen on Lake Constance is a global leader in the development and manufacture of isolators and decontamination technology. The 53-year-old graduate engineer is taking over from Thomas Bertsche, who will be retiring in May 2020. Heuer brings valuable experience gained in well-known companies in a variety of industries.
New solutions at Interpack 2020
What motivates the industry and what answers do Optima have in store to meet the challenges of the future? The company will be giving its responses to these questions at Interpack 2020. At the packaging industry's leading global trade show, Optima will be presenting itself as a strong, internationally positioned provider of systems and solutions with a variety of synergistic effects.
The pharmaceutical industry feels the need to talk – in a positive sense. This need was demonstrated once again by the Pharma Forum at the most recent event that took place on September 18 and 19 in Schwaebisch Hall. The Pharma Forum can be summarized in a nutshell as 200 participants from 25 nations, nine speakers, a panel discussion, networking and a tour including machine demonstrations and the latest technology.
The traditional family day for employees was held in July, which included machine demonstrations and hands on activities for children and adults alike. The event attracted more visitors than ever before – Optima pulled in 3,600. The fourth Health Days at four Optima sites in September focused on “Health Promotion and Digitalization”.
More than 160 apprentices and students are working at Optima
In 2019, Optima employed over 160 apprentices and students. The Training Night exemplifies many of the measures in place taken to attract and promote young talent. Optima hosted over 500 visitors at the fifth edition of the successful event in September 2019. The tried-and-tested combination of active and informative areas was positively received once again in the past year. The new trainees and students went on a trip to Stuttgart in September and got to know each other better while they were there.
As part of international “Makeathons”, talented youngsters from all around the world regularly compete against one another and develop solutions for technical issues. The neologism created out of “to make” and “marathon” describes a software and hardware development competition held within a certain period of time. Even students who do not work for Optima get the chance to gain fascinating practical insights. Students at Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences developed an automated planting system in collaboration with experts from Optima. This system was on show at the Federal Horticultural Show in Heilbronn until early October.
For the third time, Optima organized the “DO IT” event for young people. From August 7 to 9, Optima employees and members of the Robotics Erlangen e.V. Association at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg enthralled 15 young people aged from 14 to 16 with their passion for technology. This is intended as a complement to the technical education available within schools and to promote young people's interest in technical careers. Optima with several new offerings provided the young people with programming, physics and mechanical engineering expertise. In line with this, in 2019 Optima set up a new Robotics AG at the Helmut-Rau School in Mainhardt.
Counselling services for company staff to be extended
Since 2018, the corporate employee assistance program has been offering support to Optima employees with difficult personal circumstances. For instance, these may range from relationship problems and childcare issues to caring for relatives and financial difficulties. Optima has a social worker on hand as a contact. As there has been a very good uptake of the offer by employees, the pilot project in Schwaebisch Hall will be extended to other sites in Mornshausen and Radolfzell. The range of counselling options will also be expanded and made more flexible. Furthermore, in future the advisory service will be supporting employees in looking for daycare places for children under three years of age, so that employees can achieve an even better work-life balance.
The corporate health management scheme includes numerous other preventative measures and events such as an after-work cooking program organized in conjunction with the AOK. Here, Optima employees learn how to prepare quick, healthy meals under the watchful eye of a nutritionist.
In addition, Optima employees can benefit from a wide range of options for a good work-life balance. The offerings include, for instance, child care during school vacations and corporate health management with a digital focus. Just recently, the company has also adopted a group works agreement for mobile working. Mobile working is the modern answer to digitalization in a flexible working world with an up-to-date conception of ways of reconciling work with family life.
Social engagement in the region and beyond it
In 2019, once Optima again took part in the “Christmas in a shoe box” project. Employees put together Christmas packages and the company paid for them to be transported. “Kinderhospiz” (Children's Hospice) Schwaebisch Hall, Doctors Without Borders, the German National Bone Marrow Donor Registry, the “Verein Herzenswuensche” association and a host of other charities and associations received donations from the company. Optima supports students with “Deutschlandstipendien” (German bursaries).
For Optima, 2019 also brought new awards and partnerships. Optima was awarded by Alliance Industry 4.0 for pioneering human resources management in the age of digitalization. With the support of the network “Heilbronn-Franken: Connected (hfcon)” Optima promotes the digital transfer of knowledge in the region and pushes ahead more intensively with digitalization in packaging machine construction. OPTIMA received a special award in the regional “familyNET 4.0” competition. With this award, the Ministry of Economic Affairs of Baden-Wuerttemberg and other cooperative partners honored companies that develop and implement offerings and measures which help reconcile work and family life in the digital workplace.
In the new CSPE Center, turnkey systems for pharmaceutical products can be assembled and approved as a complete system comprising filling systems, loading units and isolators. These and other elements of the CSPE approach reduce the time to the start of production by up to six months. Source: Optima
In July 2019, Optima officially inaugurated the new logistics center with its new infrastructure and cutting edge IT technology. The building creates the right conditions for efficient project workflows. Source: Optima
Maier Packaging also had something to celebrate. The new premises were officially opened in September by Alban Hutter (Managing Director, Maier Packaging), Hans Buehler (Managing Director, Optima Group) and Joachim Dittrich (Chairman, Optima Consumer Division). Source: Optima
At Interpack 2020, Optima is presenting the OPTIMA Total Care life cycle management program, which is complemented by numerous Smart Services. The digital portfolio includes, for example, assistance with the changeover of formats using augmented reality glasses. Source: Optima
The Pharma Forum 2019 attracted 200 visitors from 25 countries to Schwaebisch Hall. It was already the seventh time that the event had been held. Source: Optima
As well as the multifaceted technical presentations, there was particular enthusiasm among visitors to the Pharma Forum for the machine demonstrations. Source: Optima
The issue of sustainability became increasingly important in 2019. The in-depth exchange between visitors and experts at the Optima booth at FachPack in September was proof of this. At Interpack too, the issue will play a significant role. Source: Optima
With programs for young people like "DO-IT!" (picture), Robotik AGs and participation in Makeathons, Optima is specifically promoting the technical interest of young people and complementing what schools are providing. Source: Optima