Loma Systems biggest challenge is competition in China and across Asia where manufacturers are developing low cost machines at a higher output rate than before.
Speaking to FoodProductionDaily at Interpack 2014, James Chrismas, group marketing manager, Loma Systems, said its key clients always remain loyal to the brand but manufacturers who only buy one or two pieces of equipment and don’t have a lot of money will buy these machines that won’t last the test of time.
The firm’s customers include Unilever, McCain Foods, ConAgra Foods, Kraft and Nestlé.
“There’s a lot of competition out there particularly in Asia. China is developing more lower cost machines a lot quicker,” said Chrismas.
“We see the emergence of the Chinese metal detectors, checkweighers and x-ray machines as a low cost threat but the headache is more for our customers because if they buy that technology and can’t get the service back up and the spare parts, their lines will be down for weeks and many of them cannot afford to do that.
“The low cost machines are getting better but our key account clients will always buy from Loma.
“People who only buy one or two pieces of equipment don’t have a lot of money and they will buy a machine that won’t last the test of time, it will break down after six months and they won’t be able to keep that line running, the critical control point is that you have to keep it running on a line, if it’s not running the line will be down for days or weeks.”
Loma, which is owned by US company ITW, acquired Lock Inspection in the UK in 2012. Loma’s focus is on the food industry while Lock manufacturers inspection kits in the pharmaceutical sector.
X5 SpaceSaver system
Some of the machinery on display at the tradeshow in Dusseldorf, Germany, from May 8-14, included Loma’s IQ3+ ST SureTune Metal Detector the X5 SpaceSaver systems and Lock’s Insight Pharmaceutical Metal Detector.
Speaking about the acquisition, Chrismas said the company was trying to learn from previous mistakes it made when it took over Cintex in 2003, which manufactures end-of-line food inspection systems.
“Generally 10% of the workforce will go when you acquire a company because people don’t like change. The best thing about Lock is that we learnt our lessons from before. Prior to that, we acquired Cintex, which was a similar size to our firm and we decided to put the two together but we lost a lot of the good staff,” he said.
“With Lock, we slowly implemented changes across the group and we have given them more resources and security and ideas of templates of what we’re done previously but we haven’t been regimental in implementing those changes because we want to reach the end goal together.
“A lot of the Lock guys have enjoyed working with us and we have gone from a family firm to a corporate business.
“We signed the deal with Lock in October 2012 so it’s been 18 months since we merged the two companies. At Loma we sell metal detection, checkweighing and x-ray inspection systems. Lock had a good reputation in the pharmaceutical industry for metal detection so it was a nice fit.
“We have implemented product line simplification (PLS) testing to find the best products for our customers and we’ve come out with a good product range that everyone is happy with. For example, our IQ3 metal detector wasn’t as good as the Lock Insight Pharmaceutical metal detector so we have now put a lot more resources into that one.
“We still have two metal detector conveyors but what’s the point in having two conflicting metal detectors. We’re trying to come out with the best technology to find the smallest contaminants and one which is the most robust. We’re trying to implement the ‘design to survive’ methology at Loma into Lock. It’s all about tough, robust equipment that will last 10-15 years.”