INNOVATION, bespoke product design and local UK production have continued to be at the centre of operations for George Utz Ltd during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a critical supplier to household names in the grocery and food markets, the business has remained operational, while following all government safety guidance, throughout the period to support key customers in feeding the nation.
The Utz group, headquartered in Switzerland, has been at the forefront of the returnable transport packaging market since 1947. The group has continued to invest heavily in machinery during the outbreak in the UK, France, Germany and Swtizerland, with much of the firm’s business being unaffected due to its prevalence in the grocery and retail sectors across the world.
“Predominantly, we’re a solutions provider,” Laura Carter, field sales lead at George Utz Ltd, told Packaging Scotland. “We design and manufacture returnable and reusable products – totes, pallets, dollies and special technical products.”
With a catalogue of over 8,000 products and production in different countries on three continents, Utz has been able to adapt to the change in consumer shopping habits. Since the start of the Covid outbreak, the business has taken repeat orders from retailers who have needed an influx of containers to continue trading via e-commerce channels.
Adding to the company’s in-mould label system, which allows for an adhesive label to be applied to a container, enabling it to be washed ‘thousands’ of times without it coming off, the firm has automated some of its processes as part of its continuous improvement programme. “What we can now do is automate when the containers come off the press and go onto the conveyor belt,” Laura explained. “We have a robot arm that will pick the container off the belt and then place it straight onto a pallet.”
The automated nature eliminates the prospect of human error and makes the palletising process smoother. It also provides cost benefits, which can be passed onto customers.
Further to this has been the introduction of the company’s latest injection moulding investment in the UK, which according to Russell Evans, general manager of George Utz Ltd, “increases local manufacturing capacity by up to a further 1.2 million containers a year, allowing the company to grow further and provide even greater supply chain flexibility for our customer base.”
“We like to bring in new projects, but we have our bread and butter and also repeat business customers,” Laura said. “Once they’re a George Utz customer, they don’t tend to leave us.”